How to Create a Schedule in Excel

By Kate Eby | May 25, 2023

Create a basic schedule in Microsoft Excel with these step-by-step instructions. Master time-saving spreadsheet skills and shortcuts, such as auto-populating cells.

Included on this page, you’ll find detailed instructions to organize your daily time-management as part of a weekly schedule in Excel. Plus, we break down how to customize your schedule with color-coding and added borders.

This tutorial applies to Microsoft Office 365, Excel 2019, Excel 2016, and Excel 2013. The steps to create your weekly schedule will most likely be the same for other spreadsheet versions, including Google Sheets.

Microsoft Excel Basics

Before we get started, it’s useful to know some essential Excel terminology that you’ll see in this article. 

The Ribbon holds the standard menu tabs (File, Home, Insert, Page Layout, Formulas, Data, Review, View, Automate, Help) within the spreadsheet. Double-check that you are under the proper Ribbon tab for each step. 

schedule ribbon


Pro Tip: Hover the mouse over any buttons in the Ribbon menu tabs to highlight the name and confirm you are selecting the correct button. 

The Formula Bar corresponds to the selected cell. When creating schedules, you can enter and edit text directly into the Formula Bar or the highlighted cell. 

schedule formula bar


Add and move between sheets by clicking on the tabs at the bottom of the page.

schedule tabs

How to Create a Weekly Schedule in Excel

The easiest way to create a weekly schedule in Excel is to use a pre-built template. These templates often include features such as auto-filled date ranges, customizable time frames, and automatic time and date formatting.

Follow this step-by-step tutorial to learn how to use a weekly schedule template for Excel. In addition, this guide will teach you how to customize your schedule by highlighting important events and changing colors. Along the way, you’ll also find time-saving tips and tricks.

Download a Schedule Template for Excel

Excel Weekly Schedule Template

The first thing you will need to do is download a schedule template for Excel . This template generates a date range automatically. You can customize the start time for the schedule each day. This template is free to download, easy to use and customize, and a great way to get started. For more options, check out our collection of schedule templates for Excel.

1. Prepare the Document 

  1. After you download the template, open it. It will automatically open in Excel. 
  2. If the Protected View banner appears at the top of the spreadsheet, click Enable Editing. This will allow you to make changes and add information to the template.
    schedule enable editing

2. Enter the Date and Time Ranges

  1. At the top of the template, click on the cell below Schedule Start Time and enter the time you would like the schedule to begin in the HH:MM format. The template will automatically populate the schedule with times by the half hour, starting from the time you enter.
    schedule time start
    Pro Tip: To change the Schedule Start Time to PM, just type “PM” after the time you enter.
  2. Click on the cell below Week Start Date and enter the date of the Sunday that begins the week in the MM/DD/YY format. The template will automatically populate the dates of each weekday within the schedule.
    schedule week start

3. Add Scheduled Events

  1. Within the schedule, locate the first time slot of your first scheduled activity. Click on that cell and enter the details of your scheduled activity.
    schedule first activity
  2. Repeat this process for all scheduled activities for each weekday.
    schedule whole week

    Pro Tip: For scheduled events that last longer than 30 minutes, click within the starting time cell, and click the green square in the lower-right corner and drag to the ending cell. Next, click the Merge & Center button to combine the cells. You can also find this option by clicking the drop-down menu for Cell Styles in the Quick Access Toolbar.
    schedule merge cells
    This will create longer, combined cells to represent longer periods of time.
    schedule cells merged
    Pro Tip: To duplicate schedule entries, click on the cell you want to duplicate. Then, press Ctrl + C to copy that entry. Next, click on the cell you would like to contain the duplicate entry, and press Ctrl + V to paste it.
  3. When you have completed your schedule, be sure to save your work. Excel does not automatically save changes. Select File > Save or use the following shortcut keys: 

    Mac: Command + S 
    PC: Ctrl + S

How to Customize Your Weekly Schedule

Adding colors and thicker borders can make your schedule easier to read and more personalized. We’ll walk you through how to customize your weekly schedule in the sections below.

How to Color Code a Schedule in Excel

  1. Right-click on the cell you would like to fill with color, then click Format Cells in the drop-down menu.

    Pro Tip: You can change the color of any cell, including scheduled events, times, and days of the week.
    schedule format cells
  2. In the Format Cells window, click the Fill tab. Then click the drop-down menu for Background Color, click on a color, and click the OK button.
    schedule fill
  3. Repeat this process for all cells where you would like to add color.

    Pro Tip: Make similar kinds of events the same color to distinguish them at a glance.
    schedule with color

How to Add Thicker Borders to Events

  1. Right-click on the cell you would like to highlight with a thicker border, then click Format Cells in the drop-down menu.
    schedule format cells
  2. In the Format Cells window, click the Border tab. Choose a Line Style and Line Color in the menu on the left, then click Outline in the Presets menu. When you are done, click the OK button.
    schedule borders
  3. Repeat this process for all cells where you want to add a border.
    schedule with borders
    Pro Tip: To select multiple cells, hold the Ctrl key (Shift + Option keys on a Mac), and click each cell where you would like to add a border. When all your cells are selected, right-click on any of them to bring up the menu with Format Cells. Any changes you make here will apply to all of the selected cells.

Build Schedules More Easily With Smartsheet


Smartsheet makes it even easier to build a weekly schedule with templates. You’ll find all the tools needed to customize the template and create automatic notifications. Follow the steps below to create a schedule from a Smartsheet template.

  1. Log into your Smartsheet account and click on this link to find the Weekly Schedule, Sun-Sat 30-min Interval template
  2. Click the blue Use Template button in the tab that opens.
  3. On the next screen, click the check box to the left of the template name. Click Actions, and click Open in New Tab. This template comes preformatted with sample data, but you can edit it to add your weekly scheduled tasks.
    schedule smartsheet open
  4. This template comes preformatted with space to schedule four weeks of events. Enter the date of the beginning of the week in the Week Start Date column. The template will automatically populate the dates of the remaining days of the week. 
  5. Click the + (plus) button next to a day or a week to expand the schedule within that time frame. Once expanded, click the - (minus) button to collapse it.
    schedule smartsheet whole
  6. With the schedule expanded, click the cell next to a time and enter scheduled events. Click the drop-down menu in the corresponding Priority cell, and click High, Medium, or Low to mark their priority. Click to the right of the cell, and enter a name in the Key Contact column. Add any extra details in the Notes column. Click the box to the left of the time in the Checkbox column to check off events as they are completed, as well as to check off entire days.
    schedule smartsheet expanded
  7. Duplicate entire rows of schedule information for repetitive tasks by clicking on the row number, then right-clicking the blue handle and selecting Copy from the drop-down menu.
    schedule smartsheet copy
  8. Navigate to the day and time where you would like to duplicate the event. Then click the row number, right-click the blue handle, and click Paste.

    Note: Since you’re copying the entire row, you’re also duplicating the time of the original event. Click in the Time cell and update the time.
    schedule smartsheet paste
  9. Click on the column number, and click the bell icon on the left side of a highlighted row to set reminders for upcoming events by clicking the bell icon.
  10. In the New Reminder window, set the date and time you would like to be reminded of an upcoming task. Add an optional reminder message. Smartsheet will automatically notify you at that time, providing context from the scheduled event.
    schedule smartsheet reminder
schedule smartsheet notification

Smartsheet allows you to easily schedule, track, and manage tasks from anywhere, to make sure you stay on schedule. Create customizable personal or project schedules from powerful templates, and set automatic alerts to get notified about important tasks.

With a flexible tool to schedule and visualize your weekly tasks, you’ll find it easier to meet deadlines and get more done. Try Smartsheet for free, today.