Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Self-Serve Appointment Scheduling - 10 Minutes To Google Calendar Bliss

You're a guitar teacher. Scheduling is agony. You would like nothing more than to have your students schedule their own lessons with you, only without you needing to be involved. Sounds like a pipe dream, doesn't it?

Oh contrare, mon frere! All you need is Google Calendar and about 10 minutes, and you'll be on your way to Google Calendar bliss! It's easy to set up, idiot-proof to use, and syncs instantly with your mobile device. For the purposes of this how-to, I'm going to assume you already have a gmail and google calendar account.

Step 1 - The Dragon's Layer:
The primary layer in google calendar is a special one. It's the layer used when other people try to "Find A Time" that works for you. So, either use the primary layer of your existing Google Calendar account, or create a completely new gmail/google calendar account, and configure your Android-based mobile device to sync with both. I mention Android specifically because of how perfectly it handles syncing with multiple accounts.

Step 2 - Free/Busy Being Famous:
Optional - if you want to put your availability on your website, go into calendar settings, and make that "layer" be publicly visible, only showing the free/busy info. Be careful how you use this, since anyone can see when you consider yourself busy vs free, possibly opening yourself up to burglary or social engineering plots. That said, no one would know what busy actually meant, which is why I feel safe using this.

Step 3 - Sonny And Share:
If you decide to try to get the word out and make that primary calendar public, here's where you'll find the embed tags that you can then post on your website, or link people directly to.

Step 4 - Self Discovery:
Any of your students can find out your availability for themselves!

Step 5 - In Your Own Time:
Now, if your student wants to schedule a time with you, they can see your availability, send you an invite using just about any calendaring system.

Step 6 - I Can't Find A Time To Tell You:
You could stop there, but for added functionality, you might want to take things one step further. Google Calendar has a "Find A Time" feature. To use this, add people to your primary calendar (again, it must be your primary!).

Step 7 - I Saw A Time That Opened Up My Mind:
Now, when they create an invite, they can use the "Find A Time" feature and be sure to never double-book you!

Step 8 - Accept Me:
Not until you accept an invite, will it appear in your public calendar. Once you do, everyone will know you're not available.

I hope you enjoy your new-found scheduling freedom!

1 comment:

  1. This is cool E. I can see using this system in the near future. You know I use everything Google and my schedule is a nightmare, so I'm a perfect candidate. Thx