I was sitting wondering whether there is really a difference between "planning" and "scheduling", especially in terms of doing a project. Like when you have a project, you can plan tasks and write down time and list of actions or you can schedule them and write down time and list of actions.

I can see that definitions say that only "scheduling" conveys writing down time, and planning doesn't. Is that right?

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    Scheduling is part of planning; planning is the hypernym.
    – J.R.
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 10:49

3 Answers 3


Planning is the act of creating a "a detailed formulation of a program of action" (a plan) for how something will be achieved. That is, planning desribes the intention to do something, coupled with a proposal or strategy for getting it done.

Scheduling is the act of deciding when something will be done, and allocating the time for it out of one's schedule.

So scheduling can be considered a subset of planning, because most good plans include a timeline/schedule for when each step of the plan will be achieved. But planning also includes many things outside of scheduling (such as deciding who to work with, tools that will be used, etc).

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    Not all plans require a schedule.
    – KRyan
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 19:07
  • That's a good point. Scheduling is indeed not a part of some abstract "plans" that never actually get acted upon. For instance an architectural plan (i.e. blueprint) that is never actually used to construct a building could possibly not involve any scheduling. But any plan that is going to be acted upon requires some sort of scheduling, even if only the most rudimentary form of "do A before B". Anyways, I updated to say "most plans" instead of "any plans".
    – J. Taylor
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 19:26
  • When you schedule, can't you write the actions with time and means? And does a schedule require time for when to start and end something or amount of time required to complete something? Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 5:29
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    @SovereignSun You can write your plan and schedule at the same time if you want. For many simple things, you could just write down the actions, time, and means all at once. A plan or a schedule can have different amounts of detail depending on what it is for. A project schedule might say exactly what happens at every minute, or it might just have estimates for how long it will take to complete different tasks. Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 7:23

Scheduling and planning go hand in hand, the former accompanying the latter. Whereas a plan specifies how to solve a problem, a schedule assigns times and dates to specific steps of the plan. So the plan comes first, then the schedule is linked to it depending on the order of importance, urgency, or whatever other reasons.

  • Whereas a plan specifies how to solve a problem A plan doesn't only describe how to solve a problem. It can also describe a schedule in and of itself. "Plan" and "schedule" aren't separate entities, "schedule" is simply a subset of "plan". a schedule assigns times and dates to specific steps of the plan A schedule can also be based on milestones instead of dates and times. Time is not inherent to a schedule, although it does factor into it more often than not (just not always).
    – Flater
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 9:52

When you do planning, what you get as a result is called a plan. The result of the process of scheduling, on the other hand, is a schedule. A plan, then, is defined as a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something. A schedule, in a very general sense, is very much the same thing—it's a plan for carrying out a process or procedure, giving lists of intended events and time. The only difference, as you can see, is that a schedule involves writing down times when particular events must take place. So, a schedule is really a timetable. That typically would be the difference between these two terms. But as J.R. has aptly noted in his comment, planning can be thought of as a more general term for scheduling which means that scheduling can be part of planning.

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