Manage Your Time Using Excel: How to Create a Schedule in Excel

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Why Create a Master Schedule?

By tracking the way you actually spend your time for a week and then basing a master schedule from this, you can increase your productivity. When you track your time to become more productive, it is much like when you track your food intake to lose weight, or when you track your expenses to budget. You can’t know where you are going unless you first know where you are. The first step, then in creating a template for your work at home schedule is to document how you spend your time.

Setting up Your Time Map For Recording

First, determine which time increments you want to keep track of - hours, half-hours, quarter hours? Now, open a new Excel Spreadsheet file. Record the time increments down the left side of your worksheet until you have a full 24 hours accounted for. Once you have recorded the time-increments, then along the top list the days of the week starting with either Monday or Sunday depending upon your preference.

Second, for a week, you will be recording how you spend your time for each and every moment of each day in your Excel Worksheet. You can color code each activity. For example, sleep could be green, client work red, family time purple. If you space out record this too. After a week you may recognize a pattern and you can rework yoru schedule to account for this. To color code your time-map, click on “Conditional Formatting” in your toolbar. Select “Highlight Cells Rules” and then choose “Text that contains….” If, for example you want to color your sleep time green, type “Sleep” into the box and then select “Green Fill with Dark Green Text.”

If you need help with timing your activities, you may wish to download one of the free time tracking utilities available on the internet.

Once the week is up, take a look at your time map. Total up the amount of time spent for each category for each day and for the entire week. Are you spending time on what you should be? Are you spending more time than you should sleeping? Do you need to spend more time with your family? Be honest with yourself when looking at your results.

Setting Up Your Master Schedule

Create a new worksheet with the same time intervals as you selected before, and with the days of the week across the heading. This time, you will be creating a master schedule that you will operate by on a weekly basis. First, fill in any recurring obligations - taking the kids to school or activities, weekly deadlines, meetings that occur every week, etc. Once you have filled in your time obligations, take a look at your time map. Fill in 6-8 hours for sleep every night based upon your sleep pattern, and schedule meals. Now, look at the time you spent “spacing out.” What were you doing during this time? Is it around the same time every day? Schedule activities that require little mental focus during this time. Now, find the large chunks of uninterrupted time. Can you schedule worktime during this time? If so, do it! When is everyone around? Schedule family time during those times. Make sure your schedule is balanced and realistic.

Once you are done putting your schedule together in Excel, you can color code it the same way you did when creating your time map. Print it out and hang it up.