Calendly is an online appointment scheduling tool that allows you, your team, or your entire organisation to flexibly schedule meetings.
As a user you can define available time slots and allow others to schedule meetings according to these time slots. Calendly taps into your usual online calendar tool (e.g. Google Calendar, Office 365 / Outlook, or iCloud). Instead of the usual back and forth though that commonly happens when trying to agree on an exact time and date for an appointment Calendly provides a convenient self-service web interface through which people can make an appointment.
Calendly offers a plethora of integrations, such as with CRM systems, video conferencing tools, and payment processors. This allows you to have virtual meetings rooms created for you automatically, as well as to be paid in advance for services, like for instance mentoring or consulting sessions.
It’s vital, however, to not fall for the trap described by Basecamp‘s David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried in their seminal book REWORK: When opening up your calendar to others (for example via a shared work calendar) you essentially authorise others to define and determine your schedule. If not exercised sparingly and according to clear guidelines this can easily lead to you not being in control over your own time and schedule anymore.
In order to prevent that from happening it’s important to specifically carve out only those time slots from your day during which you’re comfortable with having meetings and – if necessary – to clearly communicate the rationale for doing so.
This risk is by no means specific to scheduling tools such as Calendly. In fact, where standard calendar tools don’t let you easily block out parts of your day Calendly actually enables you to just that.