I’m taking a sabbatical from October 7th to January 2nd. It’s an award I was given at my 10 year Microsoft anniversary. It’s an opportunity to unplug, relax and come back recharged for 2012 – specifically Project Conference 2012 in March! There’s never a great time to take time off, but this window turns out to be a pretty good time. I plan to write a blog post reflecting on my 10 years at Microsoft – stay tuned for that!

Now back to the topic. With 12 weeks time off, my wife and I discussed many different ways to spend the time. We wanted to spend time with family, visit Europe and also go to South Asia for some warm weather. We started planning with paper and pen and very quickly we realized that we needed a lot of rewriting and paper. :–) Some of the reasons why this was the case:

- We needed visas for a few of the places we wanted to visit and visas need processing time, have restrictions, etc.

- We wanted to spend time with both of our extended families. Family dates kept moving.

- We were flexible in our travel dates and could adjust our schedule based on ticket/hotel prices.

- We had a preference on the trip order.

So what did I do? I think most people would have tried using Excel – which would have helped but not solve the problem. I went right into Project Professional 2010 to schedule my trip! And it has proved to be very helpful in planning and communicating my trip details to family members – thanks to the power of scheduling and the timeline view!

Here are two simple steps I took before I started planning:

1. Change Working Time. I changed the default calendar to a 24 Hour calendar. Be sure to go into Options and change hours per day/week values. Vacation is a 24-hour “job”! :–)

2. Change Project Information. Apply the 24-hour calendar to your Project.

That’s it. I was ready to go! Very easy to plan, to change and communicate. And most importantly, I’m excited about my time off and I feel confident that we’ve put together a solid plan! Below is a high-level timeline – I’ve cleaned it up for privacy reasons but should give you a good idea of how I am communicating my trip schedule with my family and friends.

 

timeline