If you’re like most, you try to use email as a productivity tool. You know the drill. You’ve got something important to communicate, so you whip off a quick email and shoot it out to your list. This is an excellent approach for sending out announcements, or for basic communication between two people, but when group collaboration enters the mix, email becomes more of a hindrance than a blessing.

Consider the meeting invitation. You take the task of coordinating a meeting between 8 people. You send out a well-intentioned email asking everyone when they are available to meet. You might even offer them a few options (Monday the 8th at 9am, or 11am, or 4pm; Tuesday at noon; or, Friday at 1pm or 5pm). You send the email. That was the easy part. Now, the real work begins. Some folks write back and let you know which of the times you suggested works for them. Some write back and tell you several times work for with them. A few write back to say none of those times work for them and suggest others. And, some folks don’t respond at all. Now, you’re left to create a distribute a new email suggesting alternative meeting dates and times—the beginning what will likely be a drawn out process, riddled with manual tasks that waste a lot of time and energy.

When the agreed upon meeting date and time arrives, not all of those invited make the meeting. Later you receive email messages from these folks asking where everyone was at 1pm PST. Ooops! Time zones. You didn’t realize some folks might be in different time zones… And so, another game of email tag begins. This time you again use email to reschedule a meeting so those who did not receive the correct meeting times (localized for their area) can get the information they need.

If any of this sounds familiar, you’ll no doubt be excited to know there are free online tools designed to help you quickly and easily coordinate meetings (dates, times, people and time zones). One of our favorites is Meeting Wizard. It’s so easy to use and save so much time, you’ll never use email to schedule meetings again.