What are you going to do today? And how about tomorrow?
Creating and having a daily schedule is a fundamental part of working life. Even if your job is repetitive, you still need to know what’s next, what time lunch is, when the next team meeting may occur and when you get off.
If you’re in the office or working with clients, you need more than a to-do list (those are important!). You’ll need to remember when to call them, and what to call them about.
Or maybe you’ll be building a schedule for your team to finish certain tasks–such as covering a shift in customer success or manning a register.
No matter the situation, you’ll need a schedule and there are several free schedule makers to help you do it.
But before we explore those schedule options, let’s think about why a schedule can help you:
1. It helps your stress. It also allows you to thoughtfully consider your day in regards to the responsibilities and tasks that must get done. You have an action plan and can move forward, with your energy level, time and availability hopefully matching with the tasks that need to be completed.
2. It gets you prepared for emergencies. A daily schedule, to-do list, and plan help you identify potential pitfalls before they happen.
Here’s how: with a schedule in place, you can more quickly prioritize and de-prioritize items as they come along. You can determine the urgent versus important and then see how those new items stack up against your current list. You’ll be able to quickly assess and make changes as needed.
3. It lets you evaluate progress. Understand whether or not you are actually meeting your goals, and what you may need to adjust to make them happen the next day (or not). As you become more familiar with your work and activities, you’ll not only get better, but you’ll also understand how much time an activity will require.
4. A schedule provides a sense of calm for others. If you’re in a service industry (any job where you need to respond to customers), a schedule will help your co-workers plan and think ahead about their own activities. It provides them comfort in knowing what’s ahead, rather than operating out of a sense of constant urgency and emergency.
In this post, you’ll find free schedules that you can use to help plan your day, week and month.
The Best Free Schedule Makers
1. Pen and paper
This may be the easiest schedule to do and can be used with a printed paper template like this one.
This is a simple grid with the days across the top, and in the left-hand column, there’s space for names or tasks. Write the names of your employees or your tasks in that left-hand column, then block off time on the corresponding days for when that action needs to take place, or when that employee needs to work.
- Easy to use
- Clear and simple to follow
- Can’t easily be shared
- Could be lost or changed
- Not easily edited
Price: Free templates + Cost of printing the paper
Granted, ClickUp is a 180 turn from pen and paper schedules. But once you get a feel for its capabilities and functionality, you probably won’t want to use anything else.
If you’re looking to manage employees, slot tasks and activities to points of the day and have immense flexibility to change or alter the schedule, then ClickUp is the best, free schedule maker for you.
With ClickUp, you can create Folders for different parts of your work, then create Lists and tasks within those folders for even more specificity.
For instance, if you’re working on the customer service schedule, you can create different Lists for each part of your business. You may have one folder for Customer Service and then within that folder have Lists for:
- Special Requests
- Email Requests
- Social Media Requests
- Chatbot Requests
Within those Lists, you could create a task for each employee. Then, assign each employee certain hours to work on those areas of your business via these tasks.
Alternatively, you could do it the other way and have Lists for each employee, and then assign them certain tasks during a portion of the day.
With the Calendar in ClickUp, you can drag and drop different tasks to different slots in the day, automatically setting the start and end times for those tasks, right in your web browser.
With ClickUp, you can provide exact details, files, attachments and more to the task, so everyone is caught up on their work and status before they begin.
ClickUp has a lot more capabilities–including multiple task views, assigned comments, time tracking and more to help you with scheduling and communication among your employees and workforce.
- Free for teams
- Accessible from anywhere
- Easy to update
- Drag-and-drop functionality
- Calendar view
- Small learning curve compared to pen and paper
- More features
Pricing: Free, with unlimited users! More features and storage start at $9 per month
Asana is a well-known project management software program that also allows you to create schedules and tasks. Their timeline feature is not quite a calendar and not quite a Gantt chart…but you can list out your tasks and then plot them on the timeline.
This has some advantages, but may be lacking for teams that are looking for a clear solution–such as a straightforward calendar. Asana does have a calendar feature–but they are read-only and tasks can’t be added to it.
How does that work? With ClickUp, for instance, you can drag and drop any unscheduled tasks right into the calendar.
- Designed well
- Simple to use
- Easier than a spreadsheet
- No drag-and-drop calendar capability
- Limited views compared to ClickUp
Pricing: Free to $11.99 per user/month
4. Google Sheets
Google Sheets is the premier cloud-based spreadsheet tool that is part of the Google Docs package.
With Sheets, you get a blank spreadsheet, allowing you to create columns and grids to fill in a schedule for yourself or employees.
This is better than a paper chart because it’s centralized and your team can adjust the schedule on their own terms if needed.
It’s way easier to update.
A schedule template could help you start with a daily schedule for your individual work or an employee schedule.
- Free to use
- Reliable product from Google
- Easy to customize for hourly employees
- Manual setup
- No added features beyond a spreadsheet
- Can’t track task details
- No drag-and-drop rescheduling
5. Google Keep
Another helpful Google product is Google Keep.
Google Keep has basic to-do lists and checklist features. If you need a personal schedule and reminders, this could be an option for you.
It is simple to start–the blank interface lets you type, draw or use a stylus for natural handwriting. You can set reminders within the app to prompt you to start a task at a certain time.
And because it’s from Google, you know it will be reliable, functional and free.
Google Keep Advantages:
- Simple interface
Google Keep Disadvantages
- Difficult to share a schedule
- More for checklists
- Doesn’t scale as staff scheduling software
As a long-time proven product from Microsoft, Excel users have made a lot of resources for creating schedules and workflows in Excel.
You can divide your Excel spreadsheet into different sections, use conditional formatting and color code to highlight any gaps in the schedule and create a weekly calendar for your team to use.
Here’s a list of helpful Excel schedule templates for everything from house cleaning to your work tasks.
But many of the same problems happen in Excel as with Google Sheets: It can be hard to change and adapt to changes.
Excel is easy to use once you get the hang of it, but is it easy enough for the whole team to use on a repeated basis?
Once you fill up the Excel template, you’ll have to create another one–and there’s no carryover on the information and task details.
It’s not dynamic, like a product like ClickUp would be.
Read more: Why Excel Hurts Your Project Management
- Familiar program
- Lots of templates
- Lack of task details
- Difficult to change
Price: $99 per year for Microsoft Office365
Calendly has solved the availability problem.
But it’s not a typical scheduling app…
Let me explain.
Calendly is great if you’re trying to set appointments or make yourself available for appointments.
It shows open time slots and allows outside contacts to request and schedule time for you.
It dramatically eliminates the amount of emails needed for routine appointments.
On the flip side, it won’t work as well to schedule time for your hourly employees to tackle a job or assignment.
On the free version, Calendly is geared towards individual users rather than teams. It is possible to assign multiple people to one slot, but it becomes difficult to manage because that’s not the intended use of Calendly.
You’ll need to upgrade to take advantage of the team capabilities.
- Easy-to-use online scheduler
- Easy to learn
- Can be cluttered with too many entries
Pricing: Free to $12 per user/month
I’ve used Doodle mostly for scheduling events with a large group for hosting or scheduling an event. Everyone can check off what days and times work best for them–and which ones don’t.
However, you can also Doodle to make a personal schedule or as an employee schedule maker. Block off certain times of the day or assign your team members to times of the day.
Your employees can also list which days and times work for them–and which ones don’t.
Then you can see the availability of your team members and schedule accordingly.
Doodle has a helpful guide to show you how to schedule for your team.
- Simple to update availability
- Schedule in blocks
- Master document everyone can view
- Not great for specific work tasks
- Doesn’t have room for detail
Conclusion: Which Type of Free Schedule Fits You?
You have a decision to make–what’s the best type of schedule for you? That’s an important question before even deciding on the type of schedule creator.
Consider these questions before making your final choice on a schedule maker:
- Do you need to work with teams?
- Or are you looking for an individual schedule?
- And how do you like to work?
- Who do you need to share your schedule with?
Zack is a Client Success Champion at ClickUp, where he supports teams around the world to be more productive. When he’s not helping clients solve the worlds problems he is watching movies and hanging out with friends and family. If you are lucky you might also catch him DJing at your local nightclub.