It's common to receive a meeting invitation when your Google Calendar already has an accepted event at the same time slot. Google Calendar does nothing to the conflict so you have to explicitly decline the new invitation, creating unnecessary burden. It's also not uncommon to see double booking on your calendar at busy days.

The invitation clash is most likely because your calendar is not visible to the event organizer, who is outside your organization. Otherwise they can find a time to prevent it.

Invitation clash
Invitation clash

This article is NOT about Google Calendar's Out of Office or Working Hours features since it aggressively and unfavorably blocks all invitations at a particular time.

The rest of article explains using Foresight, a workflow automation tool, to auto decline conflicting invitations in Google Calendar.

Video Demo

The video demo is an oversimplified case. Your primary calendar is the only source for managing meetings, no 2nd calendar or group calendars or shared calendars.

When someone sends an invitation to your primary calendar, it triggers the automation rule. The rule then checks if the invitation conflicts with your other events on your primary calendar and decline the invitation if a conflict occurs. The event is immediately shown as Not going with an optional message to the sender.

Instructions

Follow the step-by-step instructions below to set up an automation for your calendar.

  1. Sign into Foresight.
  2. Go to Rules.
  3. Click the new rule button button to create a new rule.
  4. In Select a trigger page, choose New calendar event.
    New calendar event trigger in Foresight
  5. In Edit trigger page,
    1. Click REQUEST ACCOUNT ACCESS to authorize Foresight to view your Google calendars. Once you granted the permission, it displays as Access granted.
    2. In Calendars field, click and select Primary Calendar. This means Foresight watches for new invitations on your primary calendars.
    3. Leave Also include events I was not invited and Also include events I created unchecked.
  6. Click Next.
  7. In Select an action page, choose Check event conflict.
    Check event conflict action in Foresight
  8. In edit Check event conflict action page,
    1. Click REQUEST ACCOUNT ACCESS to authorize Foresight to view and edit events on your Google calendars. Once you granted the permission, it displays as Access granted.
    2. In Calendar field, click and select Calendar Id variable from the drop down menu. The variable is displayed as {{ calendarId_xxxxxx }}.
    3. In Event field, click and select Calendar Event Id variable from the drop down menu. The variable is displayed as {{ calendarEventId_xxxxxx }}.
    4. In Conflict calendars field, click and select calendars that would collide with the new invitation. In our simplified but typical case, only Primary calendar is selected.
      Check event conflict action configuration in Foresight
    5. Click ADD NEXT ACTION button.
  9. In Select an action page, choose If action.
    If action in Foresight
  10. In edit If action page,
    1. Click and rename Branch 1 to Event conflicts.
    2. Set the condition of Branch Event conflicts to Has event conflict is true.
    3. Click and rename Fallback branch to Event does not conflicts.
    4. Click ADD NEXT ACTION button in Branch Event conflicts.
      If action configuration
  11. In Select an action page again, choose Respond to event.
    Respond to event action in Foresight
  12. In edit Respond to event action,
    1. If you see Access granted, move to next step. Otherwise click REQUEST ACCOUNT ACCESS to authorize Foresight to view and edit events on your Google calendars. Once you granted the permission, it displays as Access granted.
    2. In Calendar field, click and select Calendar Id variable from the drop down menu. The variable is displayed as {{ calendarId_xxxxxx }}.
    3. In Event field, click and select Calendar Event Id variable from the drop down menu. The variable is displayed as {{ calendarEventId_xxxxxx }}.
    4. In Going field, choose No.
    5. (Optional) In Add a note field, write something polite to the event organizer that you have conflicting schedules.
      Respond to event action configuration
  13. Click REVIEW.
  14. In Review page, give the automation rule a name and click CREATE.
  15. Your workflow looks like this
    Auto Decline Conflicting Events Rule in Foresight

Now ask someone else to send you a meeting invitation. If the time slot of new invitation overlaps with a previously scheduled meeting, the new invitation will be automatically rejected. Otherwise, no response is replied to the sender.

Notes

  • An all-day invitation is by default in free visibility (not blocking your time slots), so unless the organizer explicitly changes it to busy visibility, the invitation does not conflict with any events in the day(s).
  • The workflow does NOT support recurring events because the Check event conflict action does not support it. A rule will stop at the Check event conflict action with a failed state.
  • Checking event conflict is done by free / busy visibility. It does not matter whether you have accepted the existing meeting before a new invitation comes in. To make an exception of allowing invitation coexistence, change your existing meeting to free visibility.

Feel free to leave your ideas or questions below or contact us for issues. You may also like Auto Accept Invites in Google Calendar.

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