Center For Practice Management, Microsoft Office, Productivity, Tip of the Month

Don’t Doodle

Actually doodling, or scribbling, is good for your mental health. However, using the free Doodle poll tool may have the opposite effect on recipients. What is a Doodle poll? Doodle is a web-based service that helps you find a mutual time for a meeting with multiple participants. So, what is wrong with the free Doodle poll tool?

Doodle has a free version and a paid version. The free version is so rife with ads that it is almost impossible for recipients of the poll to use. There are ads all over the page and many beckon the user to click on them, making it difficult to discern whether you are clicking on the poll options or an ad. The experience on a smartphone is even worse. Why does Doodle do this? Well, there is always a price to free. Doodle has 144 listed third-party advertisers and a complex cookie opt-out screen when you begin. However, 97 of those partners have “always active” cookies to “deliver and present advertising and content”. To remove the ads, you need to pay for Doodle Pro, which is $6.95 per user per month. Doodle Pro has group polls, booking pages, 1:1 meeting scheduling, custom branding and more. If you don’t often need to negotiate availability with multiple parties or have an appointment tool you already use like Bookings, Calendly, Accuity, or a feature in your practice management platform, what are your options?

What Problem Does Schedule Polling Solve?

Getting multiple people to agree on meeting times using email can be difficult. It may result in a lot of additional emails for the group, may be difficult to get and tally responses, and if none of the times suggested are mutually agreeable you will need to start over. Tools like Doodle (paid), FreeBusy, Calendly and others make it easier to send and track availability and find a mutually agreeable time to meet. However, if you do not want to sign up for a new service check out the scheduling poll in MS Outlook or create a poll to link to via email using a service like Google Forms or Microsoft Forms.

Outlook Scheduling Poll

FindTime was an add-in for Microsoft Outlook (Windows, Web, and Mac) available for certain subscriptions that was sunset by Microsoft in December 2023. It has been replaced with the Scheduling poll, which is now a native part of Outlook for 365 on Windows (“new” Outlook), Outlook for Mac and Outlook on the web. It is expected to roll out to “classic” Outlook in June 2024. Scheduling poll is built in and can be invoked when you are replying to a group of people, composing a new email, or setting up a new meeting in the Outlook calendar. Here are instructions with screenshots. If you have not switched to the new Outlook and your classic Outlook does not have the Scheduling Poll, Microsoft 365 subscribers can use Outlook on the web to access this feature. Here is the support page from Microsoft that provides instructions on how to use this feature.

Team Scheduling with Calendly

Calendly is a booking tool, that lets you share a link with someone, and they can reserve a time to meet with you and eliminate the back-and-forth negotiation for availability. The basic product is free with limitations, those with more sophisticated needs start with Standard at $10 a seat. Calendly has team scheduling in the free and paid versions. The feature works much like Doodle and Outlook scheduling polls in that you invite multiple people to choose dates/times that would work for a meeting and after everyone responds the votes are tallied and a meeting invitation is sent out.

If you are a Calendly subscriber (free or paid) and you want to create a meeting poll log into your account online and in the upper left, click the “Create” button and choose “New Meeting Poll”. Select the duration and pick some slots. Since Calendly can see your Outlook or Google calendar you do not need to double check your own calendar. Unlike Outlook scheduling poll, Calendly’s Team scheduling gives you a link that you email to the attendees, rather than sending an email from the system. The recipient enters their name and email address when they click on the link.


FreeBusy is like Calendly and other booking tools and offers meeting polls in the free tier. To sign up you will need to integrate your calendar with FreeBusy, and then use the FreeBusy add-in for Outlook or add the Chrome extension for Gmail. The experience of choosing suggested meeting times and sending invitations through the add-ins for Outlook or Gmail are remarkably similar to the Scheduling poll experience now native to Outlook.


Schedule polling apps like Doodle are better than email for finding mutually agreeable availability among multiple people. Schedule polling tools offer several advantages over email, such as reducing the number of messages, avoiding conflicts and confusion, saving time and effort, and enhancing user experience and satisfaction. Schedule polling apps are also easy to use, flexible, and compatible with various platforms and devices. Therefore, schedule polling apps are a more efficient and effective way of coordinating schedules and planning events with multiple people than email. Just be sure to use some restraint and don’t offer too many options, no matter what tool you use.