Developing a Timeline
In any project, developing a timeline is important and essential. It is useful in terms of organizing the work that lies ahead, but it is also helpful to hold all individuals and parties (in this case collaborators) accountable for completing work when it needs to get done. Far too often, individuals complain that their collaborators are not doing the work in a timely fashion. Sometimes, these individuals lament that as a result, they take on someone else’s work and resent the supposed “collaboration.”
1. Consult different sources and websites to consider a format for your timeline. There are many different formats for timelines, and different kind of organizing systems are easily found online. For this activity, you may want to peruse some of the following suggestions and samples:
2. In addition to these sites, consider these other timeline tips:
a. Start by establishing a larger purpose goal of the collaboration (other activities in this Toolkit help you do this include “How Important Is…,” “Concentric Circles of Responsibility,” “Developing a Mission Statement”) and then develop some goals that can be achieved in smaller periods of time (weeks, months, a year, depending on the total expected duration of the collaboration).
b. Work backwards. Assign a deadline for the larger purpose goal. With this date in mind, think about the smaller goals and what needs to be achieved in order for the smaller achievements to lead to overall success of the collaboration. Assign dates for these smaller scale goals, again working backwards.
c. As a group, discuss who will be responsible for the particular pieces of work, leading to the achievement of the smaller goals. Work can be divided in any way that is most appropriate for the given collaboration (this may depend upon distance between collaborators, for example).
d. With these deadlines in mind, assign meeting and check-in times. Sometimes, it is beneficial to assign a weekly check-in (even if this is by phone or Skype) to make sure that all collaborators are on the same page and working toward their own deadlines. This weekly check-in meeting may only take 10 minutes, but knowing that the meeting will take place is a good way to ensure that everyone stays on task.
e. Designate a “task master,” someone who will keep track of the timeline and progress that is made. If someone is responsible for the keeping of the timeline, chances are that individuals will be more likely to stay on task.
 Please note, we are not advocating, advertising, or supporting any of these particular sites, these are simply suggestions for further exploration.