I've been thinking about whther there are alternative workflows that don't include spreadsheets. The programs with storylines can use those instead, but I've not thought of another working alternative other than word processor tables, which are really a cutdown version.
The reason is keeping track of what I think of as the 'pulses'. Stuff that is there in the background, but may not often impact the narrative.
In LotR there are unsen actions by the protagonists - the party members, Sauron, Saruman - going on all the time. But there's also the ticking away of the Third Age with the Elves leaving and Sauron and ordinary men rising with the Fourth Age depending on who won - but the Elves would have left either way.
And in the Siege of Malta I mentioned in the book tread, there weere the threads of the direct actors (the commanders on both sides; different locations) and the events, but there were also other beats - the Spanish commander weighing up the possibility of reinforcements, the overall political position of the Templars, the Sultan in Constantinople, the machinations of the French, Venetians and others; and then slower beats around the Turk's thrust into Europe; and even slower with the development of oceanic trade/travel unravelling the importance of the Mediterranean and the entrepot of Venice and the Turks. The last is only mentioned a little in passing but is a fundamental part of the context. And mentioned frequently in the narrative, but without a beat, is the extensive practice of raids, piracy and enslavement which was still increasing: and because there is no beat the references consitute a source of incoherent noise and detract from rather than add to understanding.A further beat is the impact of the reformation and counter-reformation, but this is ignored and has no imapct on the narrative, although it could be argued to be an important consituent of the context.
It is easy to see how this is important in any work that proceeds with time, from the past, through the present and into the future. But it is just as important in other works that have many intertwined threads. Even if only a few are being examined then the others are part of the context for that. The only types of work where it has no use is where there is no narrative, and the work will be read in sections (eg reference books).
Ideally, it would be a corkboard, with storylines/timelines fixed below, but I don't know of anything like that.