Show Only Selected Tasks from your Project Schedule

Today I am going to teach you a very simple technique that you can use in your Microsoft Project schedules to only show selected tasks on your screen and hide everything else. We will use the power of a custom flag field to accomplish this.

Let’s start by addressing a few situations where it would be ideal to show only selected tasks on our screen:

Scenario 1:

You are working in two or more areas of your project schedule but the areas are separated by dozens if not hundreds of tasks. There you are, scrolling back and forth through the schedule as you work on these tasks. It would be great to be able to get these sections of the schedule onto the same screen together.

Scenario 2:

You are in a meeting and you want to limit what is shown on the screen to include just a handful of tasks that are relevant to the meeting. You don’t want any unwanted tasks on the screen since they could be distracting to the team and could even cause unwanted discussions.

Scenario 3:

The boss asked you for a snapshot of a group of tasks and milestones to support a brief or a meeting. You just need to get the tasks and milestones on the screen by themselves so that you can do a screen capture and paste it into a PowerPoint deck.

As I mentioned, we are going to use a custom flag field to allow us to show only selected tasks on our screen.

A flag field is ideal for this situation. The options in a flag field are simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, with the default being ‘No’.

We will simply tag tasks that we want to see on our screen as ‘Yes’ and leave tasks we don’t want to see as ‘No’.

Sounds easy enough, right? Now let’s get this set up…

Step 1: Create a custom flag field and rename it ‘Working’. I like to use the name ‘Working’, but you can pick any other name that you prefer to use.

Step 2: Add this new field to your table.

Step 3: Tag the tasks, summary tasks, and milestones that you want to see on the screen as ‘Yes’.

Step 4: Apply an AutoFilter to the ‘Working’ field so that only the items tagged as ‘Yes’ are shown.

And just like that, the items that are tagged as ‘Yes’ are shown on the screen.

The tasks or milestones could be hundreds of lines apart in the schedule. But once this technique is applied, they are brought together on the screen.

One last note… This technique still shows the tasks and milestones that were tagged as ‘Yes’ plus their parent summary tasks as we see in the above screen capture.

Check out my blog on temporarily removing the summary task structure from the schedule so that we see just the tasks or milestones that we tagged as ‘Yes’ with none of the summary tasks.

https://baselineachieved.com/temporarily-remove-the-summary-task-structure-from-the-schedule/

If you read that blog already and your schedule is setup properly, go to Step 5…

Step 5: Uncheck the ‘Summary Tasks’ and ‘Indent Name’ commands on the Quick Access Toolbar to remove the summary task structure from the schedule. Then, sort the remaining tasks and milestones by Start date.

And now we have just those tasks or milestones that we tagged as ‘Yes’ with none of the supporting summary task structure shown on the screen.

From here, we can do a screen capture and paste the resulting set of tasks and milestones into a PowerPoint deck.

Or we could hold a focus meeting to discuss a selected area of the schedule.

Or maybe we are using this to update a couple areas of the schedule without scrolling back and forth through the different areas.

Whatever the scenario, this is a great time saver. And truth be told, I use this simple technique in all of my schedules. Hopefully you find this trick as useful as I do…

Want to learn more about building schedules in Microsoft Project? Check out our e-learning site at https://training.baselineachieved.com.

About the Author: Jason Grabowski

Jason Grabowski

Jason Grabowski is the Managing Director and a Professional Consultant for Baseline Achieved, a company dedicated to improving scheduling practices in organizations. Jason is an experienced senior project scheduler and schedule analyst. He is currently the Lead Scheduler for the $6.5 billion AT&T FirstNet program. Jason is also the author of the powerful Microsoft Project add-in Project X-Ray.

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