What project planning software would allow me to predict how long a job is going to take?

Omniscient232 October 17, 2014
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Hello all,

I am looking for a software solution thatn would allow me to define tasks and projects. The specific feature that I am looking for is this:

I want to be able to “predict” for each task how long it will take me to work on it (e.g. 2 hours, or 56 hours). I don’t mean the time before deadline, or something like that, I mean the amount of time that I’m actually working on it.

It should then tell me how much work I have to do based on all these tasks, so that I know approximately how many hours per day I have to work for a certain time period.

Does such a program exist?


  1. Oron J
    October 18, 2014 at 11:30 am

    You're quite right in that Gantt charts are mostly used along a timeline (that is, start time to end time) rather than simply to measure the total amount of time. You are also spot on in saying that they are most useful for working around constraints (bottlenecks, resources available at a particular time etc). Still, they would do the job!

    The other solution is much simpler. Use a spreadsheet! For example:
    Column A: Description
    Column B: Time

    Then, at the bottom of the list you simply sum up the time periods and you've got the total! You can also graph the times and put the chart on the same page to help you visualise the relative amount of time each job will take.

    To work with time in a spreadsheet, you need to enter it in the format hh:mm:ss (e.g. 1:23:45 means 1 hour, 23 minutes, 45 seconds). Alternatively, have separate colums for hours and minutes and you can convert them into a single figure when you add them all up.

  2. ha14
    October 18, 2014 at 11:23 am

    you can try manictime
    work on a task then get an idea on how long takes a task

  3. Omniscient232
    October 18, 2014 at 6:16 am

    Hey Oron.

    Thanks for the response! Indeed I did not mean that the software predicts it for me, that would be impossible, but that it allows me to assign predicted times myself. sorry for the confusion.

    The Gantt chart definitely at least comes close to what I'm looking for! Thanks!
    A question about Gantt charts: You can use it to record the time it will take from beginning the task to finishing it, can you not? This is not the same as the time it would take you that you are actually working on it. e.g. if you work on a task on monday for 2 hours and then finish it in an hour on friday, it will have taken you a week, but you only worked on it for 3 hours. I'm looking for software that allows you to assign a predicted work-time (3 hours in the example) to each task, and then tells you based on that how much work you have left.

    I don't have so much "dependency" tasks or projects to do, which I suspect is what Gantt charts are primarily for? Rather I have many different tasks with large variations in size, and it is often not clear to me because of the amount of tasks, how much time I approximately have to work during a given week.

    I don't quite understand the scope of possibilities of Gantt charts yet. do you think it would be useful for this purpose?

  4. Oron J
    October 17, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    I'm not sure I get what you mean by "predict" the length of time each task would take. How can a piece of software know how long it would take you to do something?

    However, if what you mean is that you would enter the amount of time for each sub-task, and get it to add them up, then we're onto something. What you need is to use Gantt charts. There are plenty of software packages that offer this (and you can even do this on paper!). Microsoft Project has pretty sophisticated tools that include Gantt charts and many other facilities. If your needs are complex it might be your best bet.