Keeping employees engaged, organized, and productive on a daily basis can be a major challenge for small businesses. And it’s not necessarily the employee’s fault. Some 48% of employees questioned in a recent Wrike survey report that they’re productive less than 75% of their working day. While it might be tempting to blame the employees for a lack of productivity, the issue often stems from a lack of organization and direction from the business and managers.
Employees need—and want—to be given direction and structure in their daily work. This means giving them a north star and a goal to work towards, even if their tasks are fairly similar day-after-day. One way to do this is by providing daily schedules that highlight and assign priority and recurring tasks to employees.
This article will walk you through the concept of a daily schedule, and offer actionable advice and guidelines for how to create your own.
What is a daily schedule template?
A daily schedule template is a pre-built document that can be used to schedule daily tasks for your employees during their designated shifts. It outlines everything that needs to be accomplished during a work day and assigns those tasks to each on-duty employee, making it easier to plan tasks and manage time efficiently.
Daily work schedule templates include information like:
- Open and close times for the business
- Employees working on that day
- Shift start and end times for each employee
- Tasks to be completed at specific times during the day
- Important events during the day
- Hand offs and shift changes
The goal of a daily shift schedule is to highlight all important to-dos and milestones in the work day, and ensure essential tasks are assigned to the appropriate workers. This helps employees stay organized and focused on the most important tasks during their respective shifts.
There are two ways to organize daily schedules. First is to create a single, master daily schedule that applies to all workers during a given day. Second is to create individual daily schedules for each employee that contains tasks that are specific to that worker. Ideally, both options should roll up into a single master schedule that ticks off all required to-dos for a given week or month.
Daily work schedule templates can be created in a simple Word or Excel document, or they can be created through digital scheduling platforms that employees can access and review at any time.
What are the benefits of daily schedules for hourly workers?
Organization, predictability, and better time management are the three main benefits of daily schedules for hourly workers. They ensure all workers know what is expected of them during a shift, and that they have a clear understanding of what a complete day of work looks like.
Depending on the specific job, this level of organization and predictability is essential to remaining productive. According to Quickbooks, about 62% of U.S. workers and 96% of Canadian workers who track their time categorize it by job, task, project, client, or miles traveled. This indicates a significant amount of variability in what is expected of workers on a daily and weekly basis. Scheduling this helps to ensure that all workers know what is expected of them, and when.
Benefits of daily schedules for hourly workers
- Allowing them to keep track of tasks, stay on top of to-dos and deadlines, and avoid missing important meetings, clients, calls, scheduled deliveries, and so on.
- Providing visibility into individual and team to-dos, giving all workers a window into what’s happening across the business on a daily basis.
- Helping teams organize, prioritize, and delegate tasks to ensure optimal performance.
- Making it clearer what can realistically be accomplished during a shift or single day or work.
- Preventing procrastination or missed tasks due to a lack of clarity or organization.
As a result of the above, employees are empowered to be more productive and accountable during their respective work shifts, helping them become more focused and impactful. This, of course, benefits the business as well by ensuring that all workers are achieving what’s required to move the business forward.
Ensuring all employees have visibility into a master daily schedule is important. Add in the individual schedules for their co-workers and compound these benefits even further. By doing so, employees can coordinate and resource share to ensure tasks are completed on time. They can help to find redundancies in the work schedule, overlapped efforts, and collectively ensure that no essential tasks are missed.
How to effectively use daily schedules for your team
Whatever daily schedule template you use should effectively communicate and track daily tasks that your team needs to complete. That means that it both needs to be structured in a way that’s clear and easy-to-ready, but also thorough enough that it includes all relevant information.
More specifically, daily schedule templates:
- Shouldn’t be too complex
- Should be easy for everyone to follow
- Should be centralized and viewable at all times
- Should be open to feedback and collaboration
- Should include all relevant tasks that each person needs to complete
Achieving the above is easier said than done, which is why a template is so important. This gives you a consistent and reliable framework for organizing and assigning tasks that all workers intuitively understand.
Templates cover the presentation piece, but not the time management side of the equation. This requires effective time management and workforce scheduling skills that can take some time to perfect.
Effective workforce scheduling requires the following:
Identifying and defining available time
The opening and closing times for the business comprise the daily time block that you have to work with. This is segmented into specific shifts for each worker, who has their own individual time blocks to complete their assigned tasks.
Scheduling essential actions
Record all must-do tasks during the day. This includes all recurring tasks, and one-offs that need to be covered during the day (like a product delivery). Estimate how long each of these tasks will take.
Assigning time blocks
Take those tasks and completion times, and assign them to specific employees to cover during their shifts. Ensure time-sensitive tasks—or those with a specific time stamp—are covered by the appropriate shift worker.
Scheduling contingency time
Ensure that there are blocks of time during the shift that are available for standard customer support, emergencies, or a surge in customers. Try not to overload employees with to-dos, since they also need to maintain great customer service. You can also schedule discretionary or “free” time that employees can use to complete work they’ve either fallen behind on, or that helps to move the business forward.
Analyzing performance and seeking feedback
Scheduling is an ever-evolving and fluid operation. It helps to keep communication open with your team to identify opportunities for improvement. Adapt the schedule as problems rise.
Armed with these tips, you can begin to create a daily schedule that you can test in the wild with your team.
Steps to creating a daily schedule
Now that we’ve talked about best practices and key considerations for creating a daily schedule, let’s walk through the steps sequentially.
- Select a daily schedule template that works best for your team
- List all to-do items for a given day
- Prioritize those to-dos and categorize them between recurring and project-based
- Note deadlines, time sensitivities, and dependencies for each task
- Order those tasks by completion time, priority level, and deadline
- Create a time block that includes your opening and closing time
- Overlay your staff’s working hours onto that time block
- Assign tasks based on priority level, complexity, staff availability, and time sensitivity
- Ensure employees aren’t overloaded with tasks on top of their usual duties
- Roll that daily schedule up into a weekly schedule to get a higher level view of what needs to be completed in a given week
- Share that schedule with your team by printing it and posting it in a team area, uploading it to (or building it in) a scheduling platform like Homebase, or saving your template file to a centralized and accessible online folder
The above steps outline how to create a daily schedule that’s prioritized by time. It spreads tasks evenly over the course of the day, ensuring that all staff have specific to-dos to complete.
Priority vs. deadline task management
Two other options that you can consider include:
- By priority. If your business has a list of priority tasks that need to be completed, you can arrange a daily schedule based on the highest to lowest priority actions. Staff working earlier can start on high-priority tasks, while lower priority tasks can be left later in the day. Employees can then be scheduled based on that priority and depending on their skill sets.
- By deadline. Similar to the above, you can also create a daily schedule around specific deadlines. If some tasks must be completed by a certain time, employers can create a primary task list that employees can work against. If an employee is on a shift that coincides with a specific, time-sensitive task, they’re in charge of completing it.
Every business is a little different, which means every daily schedule strategy will vary. It’s important to experiment with different daily schedule templates and frameworks to ensure that you are optimizing your workforce as effectively as possible. Templates are a great place to start, but they often require refinement as you discover what works, and what doesn’t.
Sample daily schedule template
Daily schedules can be created using a variety of tools, including Word, Excel, Google Sheets or Docs, PDF templates, or an employee scheduling software like Homebase.
Regardless of the tool, daily schedules should include the following information. We’ve filled out some time blocks and shifts to illustrate how each column and row comes together.
This is an example of a free daily schedule template that chunks out the day into time blocks. Then, you can assign tasks based on who’s working. An alternative approach is to start with a list of priority tasks, then assign from highest to lowest based on who’s working early versus later in the day.
This template can be built out of the platform of your choice. Or, use a scheduling platform like Homebase to build structured and easy-to-follow daily schedules for your team.
Use Homebase to create your daily schedules
With Homebase, managers and business owners can build and update their daily schedules from anywhere for any number of employees. Because the schedules are available through an online application, employees can access and view their daily schedules at all times.
Want to try Homebase for daily scheduling? Get started for free.
Daily schedule template FAQs
What is a daily schedule for hourly workers?
A daily schedule for hourly workers is a physical or digital document that outlines all of the tasks that an employee needs to complete during a specific shift, on a specific day. It lists all tasks that should be completed, in what order, and by what time.
What types of businesses use daily schedules for their employees?
Businesses that employ hourly shift workers use daily schedules to help prioritize tasks and assignments on a daily basis. Employees that work full-time, 9 to 5 jobs also tend to use daily schedules in the form of to-do lists, meeting calendars, and team prioritization documents.
What information should be included in a daily schedule template?
The information found in a daily schedule template should include:
- The employee’s name
- The businesses’s opening and closing time
- The shift hours for each individual employee
- Recurring and one-off tasks to be completed on that day
- Task assignments for each employee
- Completion times, dependencies, and requirements for each of those tasks