Call me a dinosaur if you will, but when I’m plotting out a busy week I like to have it there in front of me on a piece of paper. Computer calendars and to-do lists have their place, but if I need to just look down and work out what to do next, you can’t beat a weekly planner on a bit of A4.
It seems I’m far from alone. If you search for “weekly planner” on Google, you’ll find an entire cottage industry of people selling PDF templates for weekly planners for £10 or £20 a pop. Just for the template, not a paper pad full of them!
As neatly formatted as some of these planners are, they’re unlikely to meet your precise needs and it’s not that difficult to make your own. Here, I’m going to show you how you can use Microsoft Word to create a weekly planner, that will have all the fields you need and won’t require you to whip out your credit card.
Weekly planner – setting up the page
The first thing to decide is which orientation you want the planner to adopt. If you’re creating a weekly planner, it makes most sense to have the days of the week running along the top of the page and the to-do items below, in my opinion. That means the landscape format makes most sense.
To set up your page in landscape format, open a new document in Word, then click on the Layout tab followed by Orientation and select Landscape.
You should see the page below flip. Use the zoom controls in the bottom-right corner of the screen to confirm the page is flipped on its side.
Add a header
Now you’ll probably want to give your planner a header, or even just a field where you can enter which week you’re planning. Don’t make this too large, because you don’t want to waste space for the planner itself.
Choose a font (nothing too fancy would be my advice) and enter your header into the top of the page, making sure it’s centred by clicking on the icon shown below:
If you want to create a field where you can handwrite the “week commencing”, for example, create a line by repeatedly pressing the underscore key on your keyboard, which is found by pressing SHIFT and the key next to the zero on your keyboard, with two lines on it.
Create a table
Now we want to create a table into which we can enter the days of the week and the things we have to do in them. I’m eventually going to break my table into two parts, with deadlines and to-dos for each day, but to start with I’m going to create one giant table, which I’ll split later.
You need to decide how many rows and columns you want in your table. This can be altered later, but it’s better to get it as right as you can now. I’m going to have seven columns in my table – one for each of the weekdays, a weekend slot and one for the table headers. I’m going to add 15 rows into the table for entering deadlines/to-dos, although I’ll fiddle with this layout later.
To put the table in your planner, press Enter a couple of times to leave some clear space between your header and click the Insert tab in the top menu, then Table. Click Insert Table again in the drop-down menu so that you can manually enter the number of rows and columns you require.
You should be left with a page looking something like this:
Filling the table
Now we want to start filling the table. Across the top we enter the days of the week, and down the sides we enter headers for the deadlines and the tasks. To make those weekdays and headers stand out from the page, we can shade the background of those cells using the fill bucket tool, which you’ll find under the Home tab. Use a light grey, as there’s no point in wasting expensive colour ink when you come to print this thing out.
You might also want to give the days of week row a bit more depth to help emphasise it’s a header. To do that, simply hover the mouse on the line beneath one of the weekdays until the cursor turns into two up/down arrows, then just click and drag the line downwards to the desired depth. You should end up with a page looking something like this:
Finessing the design
Now we move into the stage of adding the finishing touches, making the weekly planner look nicer. Let’s start by putting a little breathing space between the Deadlines and To-Do sections. Click in the cell containing the ‘To-Do’ header, now click on the blue Layout tab that should appear at the far right of Word’s top (or Ribbon) menu. Don’t get confused with the main Layout tab, which is in black and in the middle of the menu.
Now click Split Table and a little gap should appear between your sections, as below:
Next, let’s get rid of all those unnecessary lines in the Deadlines and To-Do header sections. Click on the cell containing the Deadlines heading and then, with the mouse button held down, drag it down until you’ve selected all four of the grey boxes in that section. Then, back under that blue Layout menu, select Merge Cells. Do the same for To-Do below, and you should end up with a table looking like this:
Because my to-do tasks often need a bit more space than my deadlines, I’ve also decided to merge cells in that section, so that each to-do has a little more room to breathe, leaving me with a final planner that looks like this:
The final task is to save your planner, so that you can print it off at the start of every working week. You can save the file as an ordinary Word doc or as a Word template, in case you want to use it as the basis for other planners with slightly different designs.
If you want to start from the template shown above, or just use the planner I’ve created, you can download my weekly planner template here – I won’t even charge you £20 for the pleasure.
Hopefully, you can see how by using the tools described above, you could continue tailoring sheets to your own needs. In the example below, for example, I’ve replaced the weekend column with a ‘call sheet’ of people I need to call back.
One final tip: if you want to do something like this, with a separated column in the table, the split table feature won’t work. This short video here will show you how to split a table vertically, but it basically involves moving cells from the first table and then dragging them back into place, effectively creating a separate table.
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