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I can explain this question better with an analogy.

Suppose I am a uni student and I have a maths tutorial. For this tutorial, there is attendance, a tutorial sheet and some other things. For this tutorial to be complete, I just need to attend, but the tutorial sheet is worked on during the tutorial. It is not compulsory to complete this sheet yet, but will be later for a final test.

Let's say in this "Week 1 Tutorial" I complete 4/8 of the questions on the sheet and I can no longer devote any time today to work on it. Assuming there is a manager to report to (since this is an analogy after all), they want to know what I was working on today at 12:00 - 1:00, which was the tutorial sheet. This is displayed on a software calendar via assigning a start and finish time to tasks, so in this case, I have "Math Tutorial" from 12:00 - 1:00. Since it is incomplete and I am going to work on it later, I can't re-assign the times to work on the tutorial sheet since it has already got the times of 12:00 - 1:00 set for it. enter image description here

How can I understand this complication in a sort of tree-diagrammy kind of way so I can figure out what the subtasks are and dependencies are and the places that they exist in the main project of "Math 101"? This is the kind of diagram I was using to explain this, however it may not be very helpful nor the correct way to organise the issue.

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  • "they want to know what I was working on today at 12:00 - 1:00" - sounds like you need to get a new hypothetical manager. That's a disgusting amount of micromangement!
    – Sarov
    Aug 16 at 13:42
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If you are choosing not to decompose that sub task further so you can show the 100% completion of part of that sub task with a start date later for the other part of that sub task, then you simply report that you are x% complete, say 20%. Then task is split on the schedule and will have a new start date for the next part of that task. The hard part with knowledge work is determining the proper % complete but that's a different question and answer.

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I'm going to poke deeper into David's premise that "If you are choosing not to decompose that sub task further".

Why aren't you splitting up those subtasks?

Now, there might well be a legitimate answer to that question. Or there might not be. It all depends on the situation.

But were I in your shoes, my first instinct would be to start splitting up tasks to be more atomic.

See the 'S' in INVEST.

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