Big projects can often be daunting. The sheer size of what needs to get done can intimidate and slow you down. The best way to deal with these kinds of projects is to break them down into smaller tasks, taking it one step at a time. Approaching your next behemoth project as an assembly of smaller, easy to accomplish tasks, will help greatly. The Gantt chart is a great tool in making sure that you move from task to task as you work your way towards your goals.

The Gantt chart is a basic chart, a kind of bar graph on its side. Each task is assigned a bar that reflects the length of time necessary to complete the task. The bars are then put in order as they happen on a calendar. This way you can visually see what needs to get done and when to do them. You can also link tasks together, visually illuminating the relationships between tasks. You can mail out a newsletter if you haven t first written it. The Gantt chart, combined with an outline list of your project is the best way to stay on top of your tasks, providing the big picture and all the details simultaneously.

This visual planning also aids in finding the most efficient way to move towards the completion of your project. This is called the critical path method, and it calculates the easiest way to achieve all the essential goals and still get you to the end goal in the most efficient way possible. Good Mac project management software applications will do the calculations for you, and highlight the path through your Gantt chart.

In Poland, Karol Adamiecki is credited with first developing the first kind of Gantt chart in 1896, but he called it a harmonogram and didn t publish it until 1931. The mechanical engineer Henry Gantt developed what we know today as the Gantt chart between 1910-1915. His charts sought to balance two variables, the work accomplished by the individual and the work that is accomplished in the course of one day. He sought to illuminate what each worker needed to accomplish and what he or she truly accomplished by the end of the day, combined with the work that was assigned in a day, and what was work was completed that day. He originally designed these charts for work foremen and other supervisors in order to see if their production was on schedule, behind or ahead of schedule easily in a glance. The relationships between tasks were emphasized more in Adamiecki s chart, but since it was published in Polish, and not English, the ideas that were pioneered earlier are typically lumped together under Gantt s name.

Gantt charts were implemented for major infrastructure projects throughout the history of the United States including the construction of the Hoover Dam and the construction of the Interstate highway system. With the advent of personal computers in the 1980 s, the Gantt chart became more complex, resembling what we now see in project management software today.

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