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creating a schedule in a planner

How To Create A Weekly Schedule Template

As a manager, your day is filled with countless repetitive tasks: checking and logging inventory, ordering supplies, tallying receipts, creating weekly schedules, calculating hours worked, writing job descriptions. The list literally goes on and on.

But did you ever stop to think about the process of doing all these activities? You certainly don’t start ordering supplies by recreating the order form every time. Chances are, you use some kind of document — saved on your computer or in a binder — to keep track of all this information. Chances are, you use a template.

Nowhere is this idea of a template more important than in the creation of your employee work schedule. Unfortunately, many managers neglect the use of a weekly schedule template. This makes their work life infinitely more difficult.

The experts at Sling are here to show you how a weekly schedule template can give you more time to deal with the pressing issues that you face on a daily basis. Along the way, we’ll address such questions as:

  • Why should I use a weekly schedule template?
  • What should I include on my weekly schedule template?
  • How can I create my own weekly schedule template?

We’ll also show you how you can use your computer or mobile device to harness the power and versatility of Sling to streamline your scheduling activity even further. Before we do that, let’s answer the most basic question of all regarding the weekly schedule template: Why use one?

Why Use A Weekly Schedule Template?

Person on plane using a weekly schedule template

The weekly schedule template cuts down on the time you, the busy manager, spend getting things ready BEFORE you begin scheduling. You don’t have to remake the form you’re going to use because the template is already there and waiting.

All you have to do is open the blank form on your computer or retrieve an already-printed copy from your files. Then just fill in the information and you’re good to go.

Keep Your Weekly Schedule Simple

Desk with notes about creating a weekly schedule template

One of the best things you can do to make your life — and the lives of your employees — easier is to keep your schedules simple. It’s not necessary to spend valuable time plugging in every single piece of information that’s pertinent to the job. And your employees don’t need to spend time trying to take in and decipher all that data.

A person should be able to look at the schedule and figure out within a few seconds what day she’s working, what hours she’ll be there, and the job she’ll be doing. If that’s not possible, your schedule may be too complicated.

Not sure if you’ve got too much information on the page? Practice on yourself. Look away from the screen or the printed schedule, choose an employee, then glance back at the schedule and figure out when you (the employee) are working.

If you have a stopwatch, time yourself. If it takes more than half a minute, you may need to make some changes to your scheduling process.

What To Include On Your Weekly Schedule Template

Weekly schedule template on a calendar

In line with the keep-it-simple rule above, here are the basics to include on your weekly schedule template. We’ve also added a few suggestions for making your schedule easy to read.

Your schedule needs:

  • Day of the week
  • Date
  • Employee name
  • Hours your business is open
  • Some way to indicate that an employee is working certain hours (e.g., an X or a bar)
  • The job the employee will be performing (if this changes from day to day)

If all employees are usually scheduled for one job (e.g., server or chef or hostess) and don’t switch very often, leave this last piece of information off your template so as not to clutter up the schedule.

That doesn’t mean that your host can’t grab an apron and cover for a server when the need arises. It simply means that you’re not scheduling employees for multiple jobs.

Other effective ways to keep your schedule simple include:

  • Color coding each employee
  • Using small pictures of employees
  • Formatting your schedule as a table
  • Showing work time for each employee as a colored bar

These are just a few basic suggestions for making your schedule as simple as possible while still conveying the necessary information.

How To Create Your Own Weekly Schedule Template

The best way to get started using a weekly schedule template is to create one yourself. Microsoft Excel is the natural choice for the do-it-yourself template because of its flexibility. It can take a significant amount of time to get everything set up the way you want, but when you get it finalized, the scheduling process will be much easier.

The only way to make this process simpler is to use scheduling software like Sling. We’ll show you the benefits of going that route in the next section. For now, let’s focus on setting up your own weekly schedule template in Excel.

Microsoft has already produced a good number of schedule templates for their suite of programs (e.g., Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), like the one pictured below.

a weekly schedule template found in a microsoft program


Here’s how to modify a ready-made template to fit your business.

  1. Download a template from the Microsoft website.
  2. Open the template with your copy of Excel.
  3. Templates usually come populated with employee names, work times, and jobs.
  4. Click into one of the employee name cells, and enter a new name. Repeat this process for all your employees.
  5. If you need to add or delete rows, right-click on a row and insert or delete as necessary.
  6. When you’ve finished entering the names, select the cells that contain those names and copy them.
  7. Paste those names into the other days of the week.
  8. Save your work.
  9. The template in the image above only goes from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., but you can change cells to reflect your needs. We suggest entering a range of time instead of a single hour. For example, in the 8:00 a.m. cell, enter 8:00-10:00 (or whatever hour range you need). In the 9:00 a.m. cell, enter 10:00-12:00. Continue this change until you’ve reached your business’s closing time.
  10. Now you can go through and enter the specific jobs that each employee will be performing. Just highlight the cell and type the job. Use the Tab key to advance to the next cell to the right.
  11. Finally, fill in the information at the top of the template. Be sure to include the date range to which this schedule applies.
  12. Print and distribute.

If you don’t have access to Excel or you’d like an even simpler weekly schedule template, check out the last section of this article for details.

Tips For Creating The Best Weekly Schedule Template

1) Consider Your Employees’ Perspective

Put yourself in your employees’ shoes and read the weekly schedule template from their perspective. Is it easy to understand? What questions might your employees have about the final schedule?

Taking these things into consideration before using a weekly schedule template to produce your finished draft will prevent potential problems. Here are some other questions to consider before creating your template:

  • How will your employees request time off?
  • How will your employees request a shift change?
  • Will you allow employees to trade shifts?

By keeping your weekly schedule template straightforward and simple, you can reduce the number of possible errors and, ultimately, make your job easier.

2) Consider Your Business’s Needs

smart watch and mobile phone that can be used to create a weekly schedule template

Examining your weekly schedule template from your business’s perspective can help you avoid issues associated with payroll, taxes, and hours worked.

Ask yourself:

  • Does the final schedule based on this template limit overtime hours?
  • Does the template help ensure that part-time employees don’t work too much?
  • Is the final schedule easy to translate into a report for payroll?

Examining these issues when you create your template is like taking the long view: it ensures that employees’ weekly activity and reporting integrate seamlessly with monthly, quarterly, and annual activity as well as with other aspects of your business.

3) Consider Your Duties And Availability

There are several extra responsibilities associated with producing and distributing an employee work schedule. Your job is more than just jotting down names and hours worked.

You have to decide if you will compose the schedule from start to finish or post open shifts and wait for employees to fill them. You have to decide if change requests require your approval. You have to decide when the schedule becomes final.

This requires looking at the big picture—your overall availability and responsibilities—and making sure that schedule production doesn’t infringe on more important activities.

Other questions to consider in regard to your weekly schedule template include:

  • When will you post the schedule?
  • Will you distribute a daily schedule update?
  • Who’s in charge of making sure all your team members see the schedule?

These three questions will help to reduce the stress associated with schedule creation and a manager’s job in general.

4) Use Workforce Optimization To Make Accurate Projections

workforce optimization

Workforce optimization allows you to make accurate predictions based on past models about precisely how many team members you’ll need to cover all your customers or the jobs at hand.

Advanced planning of this nature gives you incredible power over your weekly schedule template. You don’t have to find extra employees to work because you know exactly how many staff members you need to build an effective shift.

For example, by analyzing the data you gather through workforce optimization, you can see that your sales are increasing 10 percent over the same time last year.

Taking this data into account, you can plan for a 10-percent increase in the number of customers over the next scheduling cycle and the corresponding number of team members to handle the busy times.

5) Build Shifts Around Your Best Employees

Instead of starting at the beginning of your week and working to the end, build your schedule around the employees best suited for a particular shift.

This ensures that the employees most suited to each shift are working at that time. The lunch shift, for example, is an ideal time for you to schedule the most efficient employees.

The dinner shift, on the other hand, is perfect for the more personable employees who are willing to stop and chat for a while.

6) Include An Availability Chart

add an availability chart to your weekly schedule template

Creating a weekly schedule template is only part of the battle. To make things more complete for you and your employees, include an availability chart at the end of your form. When you go to fill out the schedule, you can refer to the availability chart to see who can work and who can’t.

A chart of this type — included with the final schedule — also helps your employees find their own substitutes so you don’t have to do all the work yourself.

In some cases, you only need to create the availability chart once. In other cases, you’ll need to create the chart every time you schedule your employees.

Software like Sling makes this process easy by keeping track of who works when, who has time off, and who is available to fill in as a substitute.

7) Prepare For Any Eventuality

The best managers always have a backup for their backup — a plan C for their plan B, if you will. It’s inevitable that someone will get sick and the person who could have filled in for them has a family emergency to attend to. That’s the nature of business these days.

You can prepare for any eventuality by setting up a list of trusted and reliable part-time workers who are willing to work at a moment’s notice.

Options for this type of list include former employees who left on good terms and prospective employees who interviewed but didn’t get hired. It may be difficult to ask them to fill in, but you never know until you try.

8) Provide Enough Time Off Between Shifts

time between shifts weekly schedule template

There are few things worse than working the closing shift one day and the opening shift the very next day. Working late one evening and early the next morning can cut an employee’s downtime to just a few hours and take a real toll on their work/life balance.

Use your weekly schedule template to ensure that you give your team members at least 12 hours of time off between shifts.

9) Monitor Total Hours Worked And Overtime

When using any template to schedule your employees, make sure that you monitor each employee’s total hours worked and any overtime they accrue.

Keeping both of these numbers in mind when scheduling your team can help you control labor costs and keep overtime from running rampant over your bottom line.

Your weekly, monthly, and yearly payroll will also be easier and more straightforward if you monitor total hours worked and keep overtime to a minimum.

10) Ensure That Your Template Complies With Organizational Strategy

Organizational strategy — composed of three different levels: functional, business, and corporate — gives your business direction and provides goals for each employee to strive toward.

If you don’t have some semblance of an organizational strategy, your business is flailing at the starting line. Even something as simple as a vision or mission statement can help you make decisions that benefit your business.

One of those decisions is who to schedule when. With even the most basic strategy in place, you’ll discover new ways to schedule your employees in order to make your short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals a reality.

Don’t just blindly assign your employees to random shifts based on your feelings at the time. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Instead, implement a strategy for your business and then use it to make the best schedule possible for your team members, your customers, and your business.

Weekly Schedule Template

To further reduce the stress of your work life, we’ve included a simple weekly schedule template at the bottom of this article. You can use it to quickly schedule up to eight employees for three different shifts.

These weekly schedule templates can make the process of organizing your employees somewhat less of a headache. But they do nothing to help with:

  • Distributing the schedule
  • Communicating with employees
  • Keeping track of time-off
  • Finding substitutes

Only one solution does that—and so much more: Sling.

Sling Makes Scheduling Easy

Sling is a work scheduler designed with the busy manager in mind. At its core, Sling addresses all the scheduling issues that a manager might face when scheduling employees. But it’s about more than just plugging names into time slots. It’s about making every aspect of the scheduling, distribution, and communication process easier.

Sling Weekly Schedule Template

The intuitive and well-organized scheduling tools Sling offers make it easy to create clear, easy-to-read schedules well in advance. The cloud-based platform solves the distribution problem by providing simple and convenient storage and distribution. Just post your schedule in the cloud for all your employees to see.

If that isn’t enough, you can even control who can view the schedule and who can make changes to it. All you have to do is give individuals permission or send them a link. They can log in to Sling to view the schedule anytime, anywhere.

Sling’s cloud-based program also provides a central location where employees can indicate when they’re available to work. Sling then displays reminders about double-bookings, time-off requests, and unavailability while you’re creating your schedule.

Sling Scheduling Features

Sling also offers powerful communication tools that let you contact everyone at the same time, a specific group of employees, or just one person through the messages feature. This cuts down on the difficult task of finding substitutes.

These features and many more reduce the time it takes to create and manage your business’s schedules and employees. In fact, Sling helps managers bring teams together, keep everyone informed, and build better company culture.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you create a schedule. You don’t have to rely on overly simplified templates that simply can’t address all your needs. You don’t have to conform your business to the features of a sub-standard scheduling program or template.

There’s a solution made especially for you: Sling. Visit today to try the Sling app for free.

weekly schedule template for May 8-10

weekly shift schedule template

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