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, bought gear and apps, researched my methodologies, and 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 to avoid 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 everything related to exercise that could be done from the potato-y comfort of my couch.
Until I started doing the same thing here regarding 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, and philosophizing I did with the exercise on the 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 been productive at all.
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 open the software.
When I first opened it, it looked not unlike Excel, so it didn’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 know where to begin.
It sounds ridiculous, but do I start typing my stuff in the fields? Do I have to enter it in a particular place, or do I begin 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 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 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 few 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 put some information into my Vacation Project on MS Project. Who knows, I might even have made a Gantt chart of it. And if I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I might have learned how to read a Gantt chart. Hold your breath, m’kay?