How to consolidate calendar events among multiple people

Get rid of overlapping events.

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Kristin Balliet asks about a problem with overlapping, identical events:

We’ve just synced calendars at work so there are three calendars that we each view. However, we have many overlapping events. If there a way to sync these so that if we’re all invited to a meeting, it only shows up once?

Yes, although you may have to change the way you think about personal and shared calendars. Many people run into this problem in work groups, families, and social and sports organizations. The trick is to figure out where a master event should live.

You might think it makes sense to have every event in which you’re a participant appear on a calendar that’s entirely under your control, whether it’s personal or professional. But I’d suggest in most cases, it more sensible to figure out the intersection of the set of people with whom you’re making shared appointments, whether for meetings, doctors’ visits, or soccer fields.

mac911 calendar shared invite

Use invitations to have events you want on a shared calendar include the right people.

One person needs to create the shared calendar, which could be named quite obviously—like, “Shared Acme Corp Meetings.” Everyone in the group is invited to that calendar. Any event that requires two or more people in the group to coordinate gets placed on that calendar, and never on your own. (If you want additional reminders, you can set to-do items or alarms personally on a calendar or phone to ensure you arrive on time or remember to keep the appointment.)

It does require a new way of thinking. Instead of using email to coordinate a time, and each person enters it on their own calendar, you use the calendar to create a shared event. For extra clarity, invite people to the event rather than, say, put the names of attendees in the title or notes. Apple Calendar (and other calendar software) can send invitations. (You can also invite people who aren’t sharing the calendar, and all popular calendar systems will show that event to them if they accept.)

I also use non-Apple software to manage events, including Google Calendar, which can be linked into Calendar and other client software, and Doodle, a freemium service for coordinating a time and day for a meeting, podcast recording, or other task, and which can export an iCal-compatible event file that can be placed on the shared calendar.

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