Time Hack: Cloak Your Availability with a Shadow Calendar

Sometimes you want to appear busy to colleagues who have access to your calendar but still allow guests to schedule meetings on your calendar despite having blocked the time as busy. The x.ai system will respect your busy blocks, so how can you schedule over them?

Create a Shadow Calendar

This hack was inspired by one of our customers, who is an executive assistant and wanted to set aside time for his CEO to schedule 1:1 meetings with employees without allowing other types of meetings to be scheduled during that time. By blocking off certain time ranges, such as Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am to 11 am, his colleagues who can view his calendar would see him as busy and x.ai would also respect the blocks of time. So how does one schedule within that block? We came up with a shadow calendar!

A “Shadow Calendar” is a second calendar that we created that will be used to determine availability while adding meetings to the CEO’s calendar, too. By creating a Team Meeting Template that schedules meetings according to the shadow calendar’s availability and adds them to the CEO’s calendar as optional, x.ai is able to double-book the CEO without triple-booking him!

Setting It Up

First, you will want to create a second team member, as this requires a second account. The second team member will be connected to the shadow calendar and will be the organizer of events. Create a Team Calendar Page with only the shadow calendar’s account attached to it. From there, simply make the CEO an optional attendee:

Note that because the Shadow calendar is the host of the meeting, invitations will be sent using that account’s location settings. However, a feature unique to Team Meeting Templates is the ability to add a custom location. By using a Team Meeting Template we can fill in the CEO’s static link so that they may not be the organizer of the meeting, but it will use their personal meeting link!

Now whenever one of the employees schedules their 1:1 meeting with the CEO, the shadow calendar will send out the invitation with the CEO’s meeting link on it. This will block the shadow calendar’s availability for next time, as that calendar will be busy, but because the CEO is optional on the invitation he will still receive the invitation on top of his blocked time!

Internal users viewing his calendar will see that his time is unavailable but they will still be able to schedule 1:1s through the shadow account’s Calendar Page. The shadow calendar prevents double-booking of 1:1s by default!

Special thanks to Kyle for this hack!


Articles in the Time Hacker Series

  1. NEW: Prioritize your people: Get the availability for the most important guests first
  2. NEW: iPhone text replacement: Quick access to your Calendar Pages (on Android, too!)
  3. NEW: Get some FaceTime: Hack your Meeting Template to offer FaceTime URLs
  4. NEW: Cloak your availability: Block out time but still allow certain meetings
  5. NEW: Share a colleague’s availability: Schedule on behalf of your colleagues
  6. NEW: Make guests feel important: Add hidden restrictions to meetings
  7. NEW: Crowd control for calendars: Limit attendees for your group meetings
  8. Look busier than you are: Mask your true availability
  9. Stash a Slash: Surreptitiously include instructions to our AI to save you a step
  10. Automate your responses: Create email workflows to manage meetings for you
  11. Customize your overlap: Use Meeting Templates to optimize time zone overlaps
  12. Separate work and play: Route events to different calendars, personal or professional
  13. Make time for yourself: Instantly block out focus time with an email
  14. Add Amy to your emails with zero clicks: Loop in our AI with a simple email hack
  15. Leave yourself a graceful exit plan: Allow meetings to run long… or cut them short
  16. Gotta keep ’em separated: Double-book your time with multiple guests

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