Meetings are the worst, right? The back-and-forth scheduling, prep time beforehand and following up afterward are almost more trouble than they’re worth. At least they used to be. Luckily, some amazingly simple and free tools will transform the way you think about meetings and give you hours of your life back every week.
For Scheduling: Assistant.to
Assistant.to is an awesome email plugin that connects to your calendar to find open windows in your schedule. Individual links to pre-selected time slots can be inserted directly into your email. Once the recipient chooses a time slot, both parties are instantly sent meeting requests. The only drawback is that currently Assistant.to can only schedule meetings between two parties, but that’s hardly a reason not to install it.
Pre-Meeting Cyber Sleuth: Charlie App
Charlie is awesome. Before installing it, my assistant or I would spent time before every meeting Googling the other attendees. Even when I was meeting with people I knew, I would spend a few minutes combing Newsle or social pages to see if they (or their companies) had been featured in any news stories recently. Charlie does all of this and more, preparing a very comprehensive tip sheet for everyone in your calendar and emailing it to you automatically about 90 minutes before each meeting. This genius app gives you the confidence to go into every appointment feeling up to date and prepared. Charlie even looks through social likes to tell you what interests you have in common with the people you’re meeting. There’s also a great dashboard that saves all of your briefings so you can reference them at a glance in the future.
Painless Tracker for Notes and Follow-Ups: Less Meeting
Less Meeting is fantastic. It’s an all-in-one tool to help you manage everything from agendas to follow ups. The free mobile app syncs with your calendars and automatically creates a hub for each meeting. You can effortlessly take notes, record audio and schedule to-dos for each attendee. After the meeting, you can send all of those things to other people in the meeting with the tap of a button. It’s also a great way to make notes and reminders for yourself — think of it as an Evernote just for your meetings. If you have more robust needs, like project management or ongoing to-do tracking, you can upgrade to a desktop version that has team sharing and other cool features.
The trifecta of Assistant.to, Charlie and Less Meeting has made me think of meetings in a completely different light. Used together, these tools give me lots of time back in my day to actually implement all of the great follow-ups and ideas that come out of these same meetings.
A version of this post appeared on the WeWork blog here.
Brittany Hodak is the co-founder of ZinePak, a custom publication company that creates fan packages for entertainers, brands, and athletes. She holds an M.S. in Marketing from CUNY Baruch’s Zicklin School of Business and a B.A in Public Relations from the University of Central Arkansas. In 2010, she was named to Billboard’s 30 Under 30 List. More recently, she and her co-founder Kim Kaupe were named to Advertising Age’s 2013 40 Under 40 List.