A mind-boggling day creating a Gantt Chart; My dissertation journey has direction.

16 Aug

Today I wake feeling very much under the weather but Motor kicks me into action as I stroll to the shower. As I shower I think about the task that lay ahead: Task 1: you guessed it (if you have read my previous blog entries), clean the kitchen and living room because a tidy work area is a tidy mind; Task 2: make a list of all the steps involved during the research process and the writing up of the dissertation; Task 3: create a Gantt chart (this could take me a while because I am using excel conditional formatting for the first time ever); Task 4 (if I have time): think about what methods are to be used to complete research project, in doing this weigh up the pro’s and con’s for all methods (make a note of these). Thinking about all these tasks makes me feel overwhelmed, a tear comes to my eye. Motor helps me control my stress levels by telling me that, in completing these tasks, I will feel more ready and able to progress to the next stages of the research process. My emotions are under control by the time I finish in the shower.

Walking downstairs I feel Motor sat on my shoulders whispering into my ear ‘You can do this, take it one step at a time. Remember success is dedication’. I smile in response and remind myself to go about the tasks ahead in a happy and loyal manner. I reach the bottom of the stairs and proceed to complete task 1.

Task 1 complete, I tune the radio to a half decent station and sit at the kitchen table (lately this is where I seem to be more productive). Notepad in front of me and Berol® pens to my left, I sit staring out of the kitchen window whilst deliberating what is involved in the whole research/ dissertation process. This may seem simple to some people but I am struggling. It is 2.30pm when I look at the clock and I haven’t written anything down on paper. Motor speaks out, ‘Come on! Stop deliberating and get writing. Just write down every tiny aspect that comes to mind. You need to stop making this hard for yourself. It does not have to be this difficult. Remember: writing something is better than nothing and the outcome of this task does not have to be set in stone. You can do this! Go on, give it a try!’ In hearing this I feel encouraged; in response I grab a pen, open my notepad to a blank page and begin to write.

By 3:30pm I have written down a set of task that need to be completed. These are the overview tasks to which I will add the smaller, finer details to later. Now I must go onto task 3: creating a Gantt chart. This is going to be challenging as I have no idea how to use conditional formatting in excel. I sit and think about how to go about this challenge for 10 minutes. I open an excel sheet and play about with it but this leads to the deterioration of my motivation. I stop and take a break.

Break over, it is time to get started with creating a Gantt chart. I open a web browser and search ‘example excel Gantt chart’ and a variety of results appear. After browsing the results and watching a tutorial on creating a simple Gantt chart in excel I choose to download a template. This reassures me that I will be able to form some kind of Gantt chart today. I decide to start by inputting the list of tasks into excel. I open excel and start to make progress…

It is 5pm, I have not yet imputed all the data into excel because I have been playing about with the programme. I must focus my attention to the task at hand.

Two and a half hours later and I have created my outline Gantt chart. Yes, it has taken me a long time. The reason for that: I panicked, I stressed and I took a long break…only joking, the real reason is that I have had to work out the formulas to put into the cells and how to format them. In the end I used the internet to help me. Here is the final formula for each cell:

=IF(AND(H$4>=$D5, H$4<=$D5), “X”,””) & IF(AND($D5+$F5*$G5>H$4,H$4>=$D5,H$4<=$E5),”C”,IF(AND(H$4>=$D5,H$4<=$E5),””)).

That was mind-boggling stuff, but at least I have my chart to help me along my dissertation journey. The only thing I need to work out is the time schedule for each activity to allow for the completion of the chart. I have added a ‘% complete’ column for each task to show me how much progress I am making. This will show up as a green bar and the chart will update automatically as I put in the % values. Sound confusing? It was and still is. My head hurts.

Gantt chart one

Gantt Chart showing the main tasks

 

A snapshot of my gantt chart with all tasks

A snapshot of Gantt chart with all subsidiary tasks

8pm calls for food. I leave my work and root the cupboards to see what I can make. I will come back to my Gantt chart in an hour or so…

When I finish my food (I made a cheesy, courgette omelette) I transport my laptop to the living room and return to my Gantt chart at 9.30pm. Opening the chart I look over what I have achieved so far. To prevent me becoming stressed and worried motor reminds me that this is only temporary; I can come back to make alterations. I continue by plotting preliminary timescales.

Another hour passes and I have finally finished my temporary Gantt Sheet. I must admit I feel very pleased with it despite it taking me all day. I have set my year out over 38 weeks and I know what direction to take. When I re-enrol at University I will be able to update it to add in other assignment deadlines and meetings with my supervisor/academic support staff. I am looking forward to getting started with my research now.

On reflection today has been successful, I have not yet achieved Task 4 and I do not think I will get this done tonight but that does not matter; I did say when I planned it into my schedule that it was to be done if I had the time left to do it.

My laptop clock reads 10:47pm. I do not know if I should stop working or not. I contemplate this and come to the conclusion that I will read around research methodologies for the rest of the evening.

I finish reading at midnight and make the move to my bedroom.

Today has been mind-boggling and challenging; I may not have completed all the tasks set but it has been a success regardless.

Gantt chart completed, my dissertation journey  has a sense of direction.

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