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How to find the critical path

Finding the critical path involves looking at the duration of critical and non-critical tasks:

CPM steps:

  1. List activities
  2. Identify dependencies
  3. Create a network diagram
  4. Estimate task duration
  5. Calculate the critical path
  6. Calculate the float


24 reads


How to use the critical path method

  • CPM provides visibility into your project’s progress.
  • At times, a project deadline may e pushed up with fast-tracking (parallel processes speed up overall duration) and crashing (allocating more resources to speed up activities.)
  • Reso...


11 reads

List activites

List activites

List all the project activities or tasks required to produce the deliverables of each task.

The list of activities in the work breakdown structure serves as the foundation for the rest of the CPM. 


15 reads

Identify dependencies

Identify dependencies

From your work breakdown structure, determine which tasks are dependent on one another to identify any work that can be done in parallel with other tasks. The dependent tasks, known as an activity sequence, will be used to determine the critical path.

For example, a marketing team is produc...


10 reads

Create a network diagram

A network diagram is a flowchart that shows the chronology of activities.

Create a box for each task and use arrows to show task dependencies. Add other time-bound components to the network diagram until a general project schedule is worked out.


12 reads

CPM provides valuable insight

CPM helps to plan projects, allocate resources and schedule tasks.

CPM benefits:

  • Improves future planning: CPM can be used to compare expectations with actual progress. Current data can inform future project plans.
  • Effective resou...


15 reads

Calculate the critical path

Calculate the critical path

Calculating the critical path can be done manually, but a critical path algorithm can save time.

Step 1: Write down the start and end time next to each activity. The first activity time is 0 and the end time is the duration of the activity. The next acitity start at the pre...


7 reads

Estimate task duration

To calculate the longest sequence of critical tasks, you need to estimate the duration of each activity.

How to estimate the duration:

  • Make educated guesses based on previous experience and knowledge.
  • Estimate based on previous project data.


3 reads

Creating a project roadmap

Creating a project roadmap

The critical path method (CPM) was developed in the late 1950s to resolve the problem of increased costs due to inefficient scheduling.

The technique can help you identify and map out critical tasks you need for project completion. The critical path is the longest sequence of tasks that mus...


26 reads

 Calculate the float

Calculate the float

Float, or slack, refers to a given task's flexibility. It shows how much the task can be delayed without impacting subsequent tasks or the end date of the project. Critical tasks have zero float. Their dates are set.

How to determine the two types of float:

  • T...


5 reads




“Efficiency is doing better that what is already being done.” Peter Drucker

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It isn't easy to succeed if you don't excel at the tasks that are central to your chosen field.

Many executives can't identify the three of four main activities that lead to success in their business. The ability to identify critical tasks helps you determine how to spend your time and dev...

Improve Your Time Assessment Skills

  • Estimate your activities for future productivity analysis.
  • Include buffer time for unexpected circumstances.
  • Use time tracking software. Upload your tasks and time estimates, record time and review your performance.

How To Deprioritize Tasks

  1. Set a limit on the time one has to work on a certain task, creating friction using intervals.
  2. Create a NOT TO DO list of the things you won’t do at all.
  3. Review your priorities on a weekly basis, asking yourself if the task is still important.
  4. Take out the impactfu...


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