A Timeline Must Be Valuable

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As I work on the sequel to A Bridge to the Quiet Planet, keeping up my schedule is challenging. You’ve probably read enough of my blog analysis on this, and you’re probably gonna keep hearing about it. My latest insight is that we misuse timelines by having them for the wrong reasons.

What’s the value of a timeline?

This question can be shocking. We’re often taught to regard them as valuable, almost sacred. Timelines are important, right? We should all get as much done as possible, right?

Too often, sticking to a Timeline is regarded as a virtue. The Timeline we’ve set (doubtlessly under different circumstances) is regarded as sacrosanct. To challenge it is unacceptable in many people’s minds. In short, we make following the Timeline something we must do over anything else.

And that’s wrong because a Timeline is just a tool. A Timeline is something we should use because it brings value. A Timeline isn’t sacred, and more than the Ivy Lee method or flowcharts or whatever.

You use a Timeline and create one because there’s value in it. If there’s no value then don’t create one.

For instance, with myself I found my novel was best approached with a sort-of Timeline as it kept me focused. Other things like blogging work on tight Timelines. Some of my coding practice is better handled with vague goals. In some ways I juggle multiple kinds of Timelines, and allowing myself to do that is comforting.

But Timeline for Timeline’s sake? Why?

Timeline? Good, I’m all for them – when they’re useful.

Steven Savage