Finally … Actually Working in Microsoft Project 2010

So in real-time, I’m back from my vacation and I had an awesome time, thanks for asking. But in blog-time, I am still planning the vacation from which I just returned. I have been watching Dux’s video about how to use Microsoft Project and kind of following along as he goes. I have created my WBS, and I think I’m just about ready to actually open up and use Microsoft Project 2010.

I figured that once I had my WBS items the brain dump of tasks I need to complete in order to make my vacation project happen I would put them into the task list in the “View” pane of Microsoft Project.

Apparently, this isn’t the case.

Let me back up for a minute, though. If you open Microsoft Project (why don’t you do it now?), there are three main parts of the workspace on your screen.

On the top is the Ribbon, which is where all your menu items are.

On the left-center portion of the screen is your “view” pane. It looks a lot like Excel and is blocked off into rows and cells much as a spreadsheet is. These rows and cells comprise the table that makes up this view, and the table is customizable to work with your particular project. The Gantt chart view is the default, but again, this can be changed. There are lots of out-of-the-box (OOTB) views from which to choose.

To the right of the View is the schedule. This will give you a graphical idea of how your project is coming along in terms of timing.

Now that you know the main parts of the workspace, you’re still not going to just start typing in the tasks from your WBS. Before you do that, you have to do some work with the scheduling of your project. What’s the start date? What’s the end date? When you’ve defined the scheduling for your project, go to the Project menu item in the Ribbon, select Project Information, and plug the schedule for your project into the dialog box that pops up.

My friend invited me to come to visit her back in April, so my project start date begins then. Because I am a fly–the-seat-of-your-pants kinda gal (well, I’m trying to learn how to be spontaneous), I am not planning anything for while I’m on vacation. So my project schedule effectively ends when I step on the plane to fly up to Minnesota, on June 1. When you’re plugging in the dates for your project into Microsoft Project, you can only schedule from the start date OR from the finish date, but not both.

So I’ve determined whether I want my project to be scheduled from my start date or my finish date. I selected “Schedule from Project Finish Date” because I’ve already done a lot of the early legwork for my project, and the finish date is looming. I’m not sure, at this point, if this scheduling method is going to work out for me or not. I’ll keep you posted. Now that I’ve entered the relevant dates and scheduling method, I’m ready to close that info window and start entering my tasks into the View pane of Project.

At last!

Now we’re cooking with gas. And actually, it’s been pretty painless so far! What in the world was I afraid of all that time I was dithering?

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