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How to find mutual meeting times with Doodle

Organizing a meeting time with friends or colleagues can be an annoying task. Find out how Doodle streamlines the process.

Screenshot by Sharon Vaknin/CNET

Organizing a meeting time with friends or colleagues can be tedious.

With so many schedules to accommodate and little insight into when, exactly, the participants are available, finding the golden time slot often involves a long, seemingly endless e-mail thread.

That's where Doodle comes in. The free service eases your scheduling stress by allowing you to create a poll of several proposed dates and times. Then, each participant indicates availability and a mutual time is found. Simple, right?

Although the service isn't new, I continue to introduce it to colleagues and marvel at the way their attitude changes about scheduling events. Personally, Doodle has helped me coordinate times for casual events (like going to the movies) and meetings outside of work.

Creating an event poll is quite simple, but here are some tips to help you out.

  • To get started, head to and click "Schedule an event." You'll be asked to give the event a time, location, and description. Enter your name, e-mail address (I recommend doing this), and click Next.

  • Now click on possible meetings dates and click Next. On the following page you'll be asked to propose some times for each date. The times should reflect a duration like "1 to 2 p.m."

  • If the times are the same for every date, click "Copy and paste first row" (at the bottom). You may also remove any dates by click the trash can icon to the left of a row. When you're done, click Next.

  • In the final setup step, click Settings to reveal a few options like hiding the participants' information, and limiting participants to choosing only one option. The last check box, "Limit the number of participants per option" is useful when scheduling several sessions for one event.

  • Now you're ready to distribute the poll to participants. Click Finish, copy the participation link, and send it out to the invitees. Keep the "Administration link" safe--you'll use it to make any changes to the poll, or close it once you've found the right time slot.

If you provided your e-mail address in the first step, you'll receive notifications whenever participants leave a comment or submit their availability. As participants check their preferred times, those slots will be highlighted in green, helping you sort through the submissions.

Once all availabilities are submitted, Doodle will show you which time is best for everyone by bolding the most agreeable date and time.

Now you can focus on more important things, like planning the actual event. You're welcome.