You’re back in the office after the new year, and you’ve already got a slew of ambitious new goals to hit. Before you know it, you have a jumble of meetings, appointments, and projects—and your poor calendar starts looking like a Jackson Pollock

Keeping everything organized takes a lot of work! We've gathered this collection of free calendar templates for Excel to help you plan your time wisely, along with tips for effectively scheduling your day, your week, your month... and even your year. 

Planning Tips + Free Excel Calendar Templates

Tips to Plan Your Day

Eat the Frog

We all have big tasks (the "frog") that we dread working on. Instead of procrastinating and letting it hang over your head all day, tackle these tasks first. If you can, put in at least 30 minutes before you even check your email. Crossing it off first thing in the day gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes you motivated to get even more done. 

Schedule Time to Focus

Ever feel like you spend your entire day helping other people with their work, while your own personal tasks and priorities get pushed off? With so many requests and distractions coming in from emails and cubicle drive-bys, it's easy to let your day slip by without accomplishing a single thing you originally set out to do. Block off personal time on your calendar to focus on your own high-priority projects, and treat it like you would any other meeting or commitment. 

Plan for Email

If you let it, your inbox will eat up your entire day. Even if you do manage to clear through all your new messages, the minute you sit down to focus on important work, you'll get a new notification (AKA distraction). So instead of keeping your inbox open, lingering in the background as you work, close it completely. Shut it down. (Yep, on your phone too!) Then schedule a couple of 30-45 minute blocks per day to check and clear through your email. 

Downloadable Daily Calendar Template

Download the blank calendar template

Tips to Plan Your Week

Plan a “No Meetings” Day

How much of your time do you spend bouncing from meeting to meeting? Before you know it, you're spending entire days just talking about the work, with no time left to actually do the work. Keeping one day a week completely meeting free is an easy way to raise your productivity. Bonus tip: If you're trying to cut down on the number of meetings you have, use this decision tree to easily figure out which meetings you can cut and which you should keep.  

Be Picky About Your Commitments

Of course you want to be a team player and help out your coworkers whenever you can. But if you say yes to every single request, you'll exhaust yourself—and you won't accomplish any of your own goals. So next time someone asks you to do something, don't automatically say yes without considering whether you can actually add real value to the project

Remember Your Long-term Goals

It's easy to lose sight of high-level goals when you have so many immediate deadlines. To keep making progress on the important objectives that have a more significant impact on your work, make a conscious effort to tie your weekly projects to these larger goals. For instance, if one of your goals is to become the #1 most-downloaded photo editing app in the App Store, make sure that at least one task you accomplish this week involves identifying/developing a top-requested new feature, increasing brand awareness, or launching an email campaign asking happy users to leave 5-star reviews. 

Downloadable Weekly Calendar Template

Download the free calendar template

Tips to Plan Your Month

In the same way you tie your weekly tasks to larger goals, at the beginning of each month, take a few minutes to identify a handful of monthly objectives, (no more than four) that you can tackle each week. Remember to account for holidays, vacations, and other events that could affect your schedule. It's never a bad idea to build in some buffer room for unexpected tasks and delays that inevitably pop up. 

Downloadable Monthly Calendar Template

Download the blank monthly calendar

Tips to Plan Your Year

At the beginning of each year, think about the big picture. What goals do you want to accomplish? Make sure they’re specific goals, ideally with numbers attached. If you've never tried using OKRs, the goal-setting method used by companies like Google, Intel, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you can read a full introduction to the method and some OKR examples here. Once you've established some annual goals, break it down by quarter and then by month, listing 5-10 tasks to accomplish each month in order to get there. At the end of each quarter you can review and revise your goals. It's important to be flexible—365 days is a long time, and you never know what opportunities might pop up. 

Downloadable Yearly Calendar Template

Download the printable annual calendar

Create Your Own Calendar 

Now that you have the templates to create calendars in Excel, connect your calendar with Wrike to view tasks and project schedules and stay organized and on track. You can view Wrike tasks on Outlook, Google Calendar, Mac Calendars, or any other calendar that supports iCalendars. 

Sources: vertex42.com, simpleproductivityblog.com, productiveflourishing.com, absencehub.com, productivity.stackexchange.com, grantbaldwin.com, smead.com

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