My favorite Gmail plugin is Boomerang for Gmail. Boomerang Calendar is my second favorite and I use it almost every day. It makes scheduling easier, right inside Gmail. Here are some highlights:

See your schedule while you read your email and add events to your calendar without leaving Gmail.

Boomerang Calendar identifies event information as you read your email. It automatically highlights dates and times in the message with information about whether or not you can attend. If the event text is green, you're all clear. Yellow, you have an adjvent event. Red means you have a conflict. No need to switch over to your calendar to check.

The best part? Your friends and colleagues can write messages using whatever language they like. Boomerang Calendar understands what you mean, whether you type “Monday at 2pm” or “4/14 at noon”. It even understands time zones, so if you're in Paris, “PDT” will mean the right thing.

Boomerang Calendar provides another significant enhancement over adding events the old fashioned way. If you add an event, you can check a box to automatically send reminder emails the morning of the meeting, or a couple of hours beforehand. You can also bring the original email back to the top of your Inbox when it's time to head out. You'll be more organized, and everyone will be more likely to make it to the meeting.

I use this feature all the time . Think about when you sign up for a webinar and get the confirmation email with all the details. Now I can put this on my calendar with one click. Cool!

Emails that schedule and confirm meetings in one step.

You know how it goes: you try to set up a meeting, then 6 emails of scheduling back-and-forth later, someone ends up at the wrong coffee shop. Boomerang Calendar includes an interactive interface that simplifies the entire scheduling process (proposal and confirmation) to a single email.

To confirm the meeting, your recipient clicks one of the proposed times and the appointment is added to everyone's calendar – no additional action by you required! The visual availability features work regardless of whether the recipient opens your email on a phone, in Outlook, or anywhere else – they do not need to be using Gmail or Boomerang Calendar.

This feature rocks! It saves so much time emailing back and forth to find a good time for a meeting or call.

Cross-timezone scheduling.

If your business is anything like mine, you're scheduling meetings with people in other time zones all the time. If you're scheduling a meeting with someone on a different coast (or continent), you can now see both timezones next to each other while suggesting times to meet. You'll know immediately what the best time is for a call between London and San Francisco, or Bangalore and Miami.

Plan group events.

Boomerang Calendar includes the best system for coordinating a group event anywhere. Just choose times from your calendar view, and Boomerang Calendar will email all participants asking which of those times works for each of them, with a form they can fill out directly from inside their email.

As participants respond, everyone's emails themselves will update to reflect availability. It's never been easier – and participants do not need Boomerang calendar or Gmail, just an email address.

If you're a Gmail user – and I suggest you want to be – I hope you give this plugin a try. You can find it at http://boomerangcalendar.com/ .

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