I have a timeline-like view (I don't want to call it a timeline because it is more like a list of work items).

Things you need to know

  • It's designed to show a quick overview of the recent activities.
  • Each vertical line is a list of tasks representing a team that the supervisor is responsible for (and they all need to be shown together). The colored ones have already been done (the colors represent success/failure/stopped, etc.)
  • The order of the tasks is based on time (not seen in the screenshot). Each card is a task and there are no overlapping tasks.
  • The grey line represents current time.

It looks something like this (orientation can be changed)

Work items for each line

My question

The timed tasks are easy to show as there is a time attached to them. But there are some tasks that just need to be done in the day but do not have a specific time attached to them (much like all day events in a calendar)

My issue is that I can't have a calendar/agenda view given the need of showing multiple lines.

How do I show non-timed tasks?

  • why are all the boxes below 'current time' gray? Is there a particular reason? and as time passes, what happens to that line?
    – Mike M
    Sep 18, 2017 at 13:37
  • @MikeM - The line stays there to mark the current time. The grey tiles represent tasks that need to be done. Sep 19, 2017 at 4:07
  • okay, so the tasks below the line, if they are due at 2pm say...and the current time is 1pm. After 2, does the top task due in the gray area cross the line?
    – Mike M
    Sep 19, 2017 at 4:23
  • Yes, in the old mockup (shown here), it crosses the line to the top and changes color (black) to represent due. However, I felt like it was little too vague and now I have created a mid-section with dotted lines to represent tasks due now/tasks overdue Sep 19, 2017 at 4:32

1 Answer 1


Something I need to mention here is colour: colour should not be your only indicator of task status - I hope they will be accompanied by some signifying icon too.

Your question mentions two different things: all-day tasks and non-timed tasks.

The first one is fairly easy. You could use the current MS Outlook model where all day events are placed above the scheduled list.

Outlook all-day event

Or you could simply block out the whole day.

enter image description here

Non-timed tasks are a little more tricky These seem to be more like the 'backlog' in a Kanban task wall: they have no assigned status but should be completed at some point within the work period.

Kanban board with backlog tasks waiting to be assigned

So, it would seem that you might be needing a space above the current list (similar to the space above the calendar in OutlookO for all-day tasks and a space below the list (similar to the backlog section in a Kanban wall) for non-timed tasks

  • There's going to be a legend for the colors so that shouldn't be a problem. As far as the Kanban approach goes, I like it but I can't really use it as it would be very difficult to fit 4 (or more in some cases) such boards on a single screen. I did pitch the non-timed event on top idea but they don't think it would be feasible as the people who interact with this screen aren't familiar with the e-calendar layouts and logic. I can't go with the blocking the whole day thing as it would seem like an overlap which they don't want. I am kinda stuck so I'd take ANY advice. Sep 19, 2017 at 4:20
  • 1
    Whether you have a legend or not, if you can't tell red from green then you still won't be able to read the chart. There is plenty of information elsewhere about dealing with colourblind users so I'll leave it there. Your "backlog" section could be placed anywhere including inside trays or panels that could be pulled out, it's simply a way of segmenting the information. As for whole-day tasks, the argument that "people who interact with this screen aren't familiar with the e-calendar layouts and logic" is not a valid argument against a pattern that is proven to work. Sep 19, 2017 at 7:29
  • Hmm ... I think I'll mention the states inside the boxes clearly so that color isn't the only distinguishing feature. I am going to push back on the layout thing because I believe this is the best solution to the problem. Sep 19, 2017 at 8:35

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