Yes or no: Are you one of those folks who use daily planners to schedule your to-do list? If you do, are you one of those people who creates an aesthetically-pleasing daily planner?

You know, a planner with handwritten scripty headings, color-coded categories, and pretty dot patterns to fill up space? If so, major respect to you. That takes skill.

What do daily planners have to do with the process of creating a new corporate interior, like the Fullerton Tool project we’ve been talking about the last couple weeks? Well, one thing we’ve discovered over the years is that building a timeline makes this kind of project a whole lot easier. No, not a timeline wall (although we did that for Fullerton too), but a project timeline that gives an overview of the process and its schedule. We even try to make it aesthetically appealing (although it doesn’t approach the level of bullet journal art).

Organizing the Process

Here’s one of our timelines so you can get an idea of what we mean:

The color-coding jumps out right away, right? That’s so the different stages of the project are immediately clear. (And don’t worry, we’ll get to talking about all of them eventually.) This is just a sample timeline, but the timelines for our big projects really do get this complex. And Fullerton was definitely a big project.

These timelines come in handy for staying on track when there’s a deadline we have to meet. In Fullerton’s case, they’d picked a date for the grand opening of their new facility in Saginaw, so everything had to be finished by then. The wall art, the custom lights, the signage — all of it.

That’s where advance deadlines help. When we scheduled ourselves to complete the signs by a certain date and install them two days later, that gave us a little bit of flexibility in case something unexpected came up. Plus, planning ahead like that gave us a way to see if we were making good progress. We knew if we needed to step things up to meet Fullerton’s deadline or, on the other hand, if we were ahead of schedule.

Fullerton Timeline 02
The timeline wall — not project timeline — ZENTX created for Fullerton

A Two-Way Street

The other big thing about our timelines is that they include steps for our clients to take as well as steps for us. These projects really are collaborations. We do most of the work; that’s why you hire us, after all. But you have your own part to play. Whether it’s sending us the text you want included on a display or approving the latest drawings, some steps require input from you before the project can move forward.

That’s why they show up on the timeline too, clearly marked so they’re easy to see. That way, there’s no surprises and everybody’s on the same page. (Literally.)

Hammering out the timeline can take some work, honestly. Once it’s settled, you might expect we’d jump straight into building stuff in the workshop. And you’re almost right, but not quite. There’s one more step that happens first: Design and Prototyping. That’s what we’ll talk about next time.