Making! 2 The Project Timeline

I’m *making* an online fundraising event for a school. Up until now, most of the work has been put into promoting it.  I thought maybe people would gain something by seeing my process for creating, rehearsing, collaborating, and performing the event… So, here I am sharing.

Today I sat down to make a timeline for the next two weeks. It wasn’t easy to focus on. It was very fidgety and I had a lot of side-quests come up in my brain. This is one of those moments of responsibility for my audience and my collaborators. Although I do what I can to avoid unnecessary responsibility, I do cherish the opportunity to take over something in my wheelhouse and provide it for others.

I need a timeline for the outside world

I’ve gotta make a timeline because I’m potentially working with a director, comedy writer, performers, composer, video editor, Zoom tech, and a game consultant. They’re all on their own schedules. They all need to be told what their deadlines are – it’s the worst to say, “I need this yesterday.”

Otherwise, I can just do stuff myself – which is my old way of working. It’s fun to have all the control and not make timelines, but I can’t make as epic of entertainment.

Also, it’s good to make timeline deadlines for ordering props, equipment, and whatnot. Delivery stuff is fast, but not instant.

I need a timeline for the big picture

When I lay it all out in one document I can see everything that’s important and make sure I included it all. I can make sure I give enough time to the things that I might normally avoid – things like rehearsing.

I need a timeline for the small picture

Sometimes the small stuff is the most exciting. Making a tweak to my costumes, or refining one visual element can be a wonderful escapist rabbit hole. I really need those sometimes, but I can’t get carried away, or I won’t be serving my audience / clients!

Seeing a big list of things to do in one day and being able to weigh their importance helps me apply a firm Parkinson’s Law approach…

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
Parkinson’s Law

Gotta make little time containers for the little stuff.

My process

The way my mind works, I want to make a system right away and I want to start with organizing. This can lead to an immediate block. Instead, I open up a word processor and start typing out a list of some things that I know need to get done. I resist the urge to format the list with bullets, to get correct spelling, to only list things that are big tasks, to make subtasks tabbed beneath bigger tasks… and so many more mental vacations!

I made a list of about 15 things to get done in the coming week until i started slowing down. When my brain dump was complete, I opened a spreadsheet and made a column for each day (yay i got to organize for a second!). Then, I started with today’s date “make a timeline.” Feels good to get one partially complete.

I went thru my list and made sure each thing had a deadline. Tried to think through what the other parts were and stuck deadlines in for those. For example, I knew when I needed the video editing to all be done. I backtracked and I figured out when I needed to send video assets to the editor, then figured out when I needed to shoot those assets. Everything has a deadline and every deadline is reasonable. I’m not going to do stuff if I can’t trust my planning self.

Lot’s of feelings

A lot of things come up for me when I’m doing this sitting deep thinking stuff. I think about all the planning I haven’t done before. I think about a bunch of failure scenarios. I think about how I never have enough to provide. I think about all the things I’m not doing well — that I’m not even supposed to be doing. My mind goes crazy to protect me from fallout. a major one one for me is thinking that I’ll make an incomplete timeline and that would be horrible.

When I step up and say “I will do this” to other people, it is publicly clear whether I fail or succeed.

What keeps me going is my track record of succeeding, the knowledge that doing something is better than nothing,and realizing that my feelings are not facts.

Written By Scot for entertainment pros

Scot Nery has helped some of the biggest companies in the world achieve entertainment success.

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