What’s the difference between a timetable and a to do list? Well, first of all, there are two kinds of timetable:
1) a plan of the activities you do regularly (like a school timetable), and
2) things you’ve got on during this particular week.
Timetable number one
Think about that for a moment: the first kind of timetable – the things you do regularly – doesn’t need to change that often. My son does a sports club every week – why would I write out ‘wash and dry kit, remember to take kit’ etc. on a to do list over and over? I’ve printed out the timetable of regular activities and I’ve stuck it up downstairs to act as a reminder. (Actually we have two – one for term time, one for holiday time.) Having this plan of regular activities reduces the necessity for at least part of my to do list. The template is saved on my computer so when regular activities change, I can easily edit it and print it out again.
Timetable number two
You could use the print out of your weekly regular activities as a template for planning this particular week. Personally, I tried that but I found I ran out of space or forgot to print it out, plus we already have a family calendar that we’ve written all over. What has worked really well for us is timetabling each day. That leads me back to the title of this blog post: what’s the difference between a timetable and a to do list? Our daily timetable is like a to do list with times added. We realised very quickly that the timetable forced us to acknowledge how much time we actually had. We realised we had been cramming too much onto our to do lists. Also, because it’s a timetable – and the default timetable we tend to go to in our heads is the school timetable – we automatically added in a lunch break and other natural pauses. Our timetable is on a whiteboard under our family calendar, by the way, so it’s not easy to miss. We don’t have to keep reinventing it and we don’t try to keep it neat – we simply rub out and scribble the day’s activities on it.
So all in all, a timetable is like a structured to do list. The advantages are that it’s more realistic, it’s easy to manage, and it helps limit surprises. I still have a master to do lists on Evernote (shared ones and personal ones) but that’s another story…
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