Microsoft Project: The Adventure Begins

I have been undertaking a diet well, “lifestyle change”for a little more than a month now. I did a lot of prep-work for it. I set goals, I bought gear and apps, I researched my methodologies, and I started a blog to keep myself accountable to strangers on the Internet in preparation for my “lifestyle change.” I was faithful about wearing my fancy little pedometer, logging calories into the app on my phone, and updating my blog with my weigh-in figures. I was not, however, quite ready when I launched this self-improvement project, to start with the exercise component of my “lifestyle change.”

So in order to avoid actually having to do exercise, I wrote about it. I philosophized about it. I wrote about what I’d learned from my research about exercise. I wrote my rationalizations for putting off exercising. I did pretty much everything related to exercise that could possibly be done from the potato-y comfort of my couch.

Until I started doing the same thing here in regard to tackling Microsoft Project, I didn’t realize that writing  producing content, doing something that, at first glance, is a productive activity is an excellent avoidance tactic for people like me.

All these weeks, I’ve been avoiding Microsoft Project writing around it. The same rationalizations, research, philosophizing that I did with the exercise on my diet blog, I’ve done here about Microsoft Project. For all that I’ve been producing what would translate to reams of written material, it hasn’t really been productive at all.

Well, a few weeks ago, I decided to stop talking about exercise, get off my considerable-sized badonkadonk, and hit the trail and run. (I still hate it.) And today, I decided to stop talking about Microsoft Project and actually open the software.

When I first open it, it looks not unlike Excel, so it doesn’t appear as intimidating as I made it out to be, in my mind. But when I decided to put pen to paper, so to speak, and begin entering tasks from my chosen project (planning my upcoming vacation), I didn’t really know, uh, where to even begin.

It sounds ridiculous, but, like, do I just start typing my stuff in the fields? Do I have to enter it in a special place or do I start plugging info into the Excel-like rows and columns as I would with a simple little ol’ spreadsheet? Once I have the tasks in, what do I do with them? What do all those buttons in the Ribbon do? Why am I looking at the Gantt Chart Tools Ribbon as a default? Why, as a reasonably intelligent person, can’t I figure all this stuff out? Why, when I bravely plunge in elbow-deep on other unfamiliar tasks all the time, does this one thing make me so twitchy? Why did I agree to do this whole project management thing in the first place?

Dux to the rescue again. A couple of years ago, he did a webinar, in partnership with O’Reilly, called Plan, Track and Control Projects with Microsoft Project 2010. He said that should be my crash course for Project. That’s what’ll answer at least a couple of the questions in the above paragraph.

So if you’ll excuse me, I have a video to watch (it comes in two parts, about an hour each, archived at the link above). The next time you hear from me, I’ll have actually put some sort of information into my Vacation Project on MS Project. Who knows, then, I might even have made a Gantt chart of it. And if I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I might have actually learned how to read a Gantt chart. Hold your breath, m’kay?

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