Assigning Task Durations Project Management Help

Duration is the total span of time you expect it will take to complete a task. In most cases, duration are estimates because you generally can’t predict exactly how long a task will take. Although you can use your previous experience and the experience of others to make predictions, when it comes down to it, you will often use your best educated guess.

You also must consider that the duration of the task can be directly tied to the resource and the number of resources assigned to the task. If the task is to paint an office, one resource might take two hours and another might take two days, based on their painting skills.

If you assign two people to the task, they could split the painting and finish it in even less time. Microsoft Project calculates duration by counting the amount of active working time between the scheduled start and finish of the task. When you assign resources (see , “Defining Project Resources and Costs”),
you can revisit duration and make refinements to the project estimates.

How Calendar Settings Affect Duration By default, Project assigns one day to each task. The definition of one day is based on the number of hours per day setting on the Calendar tab of the Options dialog box (Tools > Options Calendar).

If this is set to the default eight hours, a duration of two-and-a-half days is equivalent to 20 hours. If the task starts on Thursday and the default Standard calendar shows that Saturday is not a workday, then Project would set the task’s completion to noon on Monday (assuming that the workday starts at 8 a.m.) Entering Duration Units Durations can be entered as minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months. Project accepts abbreviations or the full word. For example, you can enter, or hour (no space is required). Because 1 m is equivalent to 1 minute, you must enter, or month to indicate a month.

However, remember that entering a month is not the same as entering 20 days, the standard number of workdays in a month. A one-month duration refers to a month of workdays, so it could take six calendar weeks or 30 workdays.

When you edit a duration, Project extends the task bar on the Gantt Chart to show the scheduled start date and the finish date, based on the new duration. If you are unsure about the actual time it will take to complete a task, enter a question mark after the duration. Project marks this as an estimated duration.

Applying Elapsed Duration Elapsed dllmtioll is a type of duration that you can use when the activity or task continues around the clock, irrespective of the workday hours. A ship that is carrying parts to a manufacturing plant does not typically stop sailing at the end of the workday. If the trip takes 10 hours to sail from one port to another, the duration can be entered as elapsed time. Figure 7.8 shows the difference between a 10- hour duration and a lO-hour elapsed duration. To enter an elapsed duration, type the letter e before the time unit (10ehrs, for example).

A to-nour trip entered as a standard duration and on elapsed duration

A to-nour trip entered
as a standard duration
and on elapsed

Editing Tasks

After you enter a task list, chances are you will want to make some changes in it. You can unit text in a cell, adjust columns and rows, move and copy tasks insert and delete tasks.

Editing Text

Editing text in Gantt Chart view is most easil~’accomplished using the Entry bar. The Entry bar is the bar above the task list that displays entries YOLI make to cells in the table. When you are entering or editing text, a Cancel button (X) and an Enter button
(red check) appear in the Entry bar.

To edit in the Entry bar, follow these steps:
1. Click the cell you w~.nt to edit.
2. Point to the contents in thelntry bar so the pointer changes to an bearn.
3. Click the I-beam where you want to edit.
4. When you finish editing, click the. Enter button (or press Enter) to accept the changes, or click the Cancel button to cancel the changes.

To move or copy an entry In a cell, click the cell to select it, and click the Cut or Copy button on the Standard toolbar. Move to the new location and click Paste.

To delete an entry, click the cell to select it, right-click, and choose Clear Contents from the shortcut menu

Undoing Mistakes

When you change your mind, Project gives you a chance to undo your last action. Click the Undo button or choose Edit> Undo. When you click Undo, the button changes to a Redo button. If you want to reverse the last undo, click Redo or choose Edit> Redo.

Adjusting Columns and Rows

If a numeric or date column is too narrow for you to see its contents, Project displays pound signs (#) in place of the actual contents ..You can resize any column by pointing to the column head divider, and double-clicking or manually dragging left or right.


If a text column is too narrow, you can resize the column or let it automatically wrap by Increasing the row height. You can resize a row by pointing to the row divider and dragging up or down.

Moving and Copying Tasks

Being able to change the order of tasks is essential to effectively organizing a project. In Project, you can move and copy tasks by using the traditional cut/copy a~d paste, or drag and drop: To move or copy a task, follow these steps:
1. Select the entire task by clicking the ID number for the task.
2. Click the Cut or Copy button. If you click Cut, the task should be removed from the list.
3. Click in the row where you want the task to appear.
4. Click the Paste button. To drag and drop a task, follow these steps:
1. Select the entire task by clicking the row header (ID number) for the task.
2. Point to the row header, or the top or bottom border of the selected area, with the arrowhead pointer.
3. Drag the mouse and when the shadowed I-beam appears just below where you want the task to appear, release the mouse button. You can select multiple consecutive rows by dragging over the row headers with the four-headed cross.

To select rows that are not consecutive, hold down the Ctrl key while clicking the row headers. You cannot drag and drop multiple non consecutive rows. You must cut and paste to move them. When you paste nonconsecutive rows into a new location, the rows become consecutive.

Posted on November 26, 2015 in Entering Project Tasks

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