Editor’s note: Gantt charts are coming back to Redbooth and they’re better than ever! Go behind the scenes with the Redbooth team and check them out »
I know that I would be lost without a map. Whether I’m driving to Florida or working on a new strategy, I need directions and steps to get me to my final destination. A visual representation makes a lot more sense to many people than a set of instructions.
It’s the same for your team members: they need to see the big picture. They need to understand how their work fits into the whole puzzle. And of course, the project lead needs to understand how all the pieces fit together.
This is where Gantt charts come in handy.
If you’ve been involved in project management before, you may have been exposed to a Gantt chart. If you’re newer to project management, or if you’ve relied on spreadsheets and other homemade planning systems in the past, a Gantt chart is basically a visual representation of tasks and the time it takes to get each task done. It gives you an overview of the entire process as well.
How do Gantt charts kill procrastination? I’m glad you asked. Here are 3 ways they do exactly that:
1. Gantt Charts Reduce Confusion
Confusion is one of the main causes of procrastination at work. It’s simple, really: when people don’t have a clear idea of what they should be working on, often they’ll work on nothing at all. They wait around, hoping that a manager or a colleague will make things more clear…at some point.
A lot of time can get wasted this way!
With a shared Gantt chart, there’s no question about the priorities. Everyone can refer back to the same visual representation of the project.
The nice thing about Redbooth’s Gantt charts is that they automatically update when you make changes to their corresponding workspace. So if a member of the team makes a change there, you can rest easy knowing that it will be updated in the Gantt chart as well.
2. Gantt Charts Make Relationships More Clear
Believe it or not, people actually procrastinate less when they know that their decisions will affect their co-workers. That’s according to Dr. Harold Kerzner, PhD — the author of more than 50 textbooks on project management. (Read about his 3 top strategies for reducing procrastination.)
Here’s what he says about the benefit of socializing with your colleagues to reduce procrastination:
“When people procrastinate, they often could care less about the impact of their procrastination on other people. But when you socialize with people away from work, and they are your friends, now you have second thoughts about procrastination and how it impacts other people.”
Once those relationships are strengthened, Gantt charts provide a way for team members to see how their procrastination would affect their colleagues’ work. Dependencies between tasks (which you can add to a Redbooth Gantt chart with a simple drag-and-drop) illustrate these connections.
3. Gantt Charts Help You Face Reality
It’s a little bit of tough love — but sometimes as procrastinators, we don’t think about the reality of how long it takes to accomplish something. We think, “Oh, that will be fast — I’ll do it later!” And then the next thing we know, we’ve blown right past a deadline.
Gantt charts bring a discipline to our thinking. When we actually map out each step, it changes everything.
This doesn’t mean that every procrastinator will get it right on the first try. After all, we’re notorious for being too optimistic about task duration. But it’s simple to adjust those durations in Redbooth.
Even better, completed tasks can still be viewed. So at the end of a project, you have a useful model of how long it actually took to get everything done — and you can apply those insights to future projects as well.
Update: Instant Gantt charts have launched! Find out more »
This article was originally published in 2013 and updated in 2016.