Managing Your Workflow Pt. III: Using Asana To Prioritize Tasks & Manage Your Workflow

Hello there! This article assumes that you already know the basics of Asana. If you don't, we recommend the following before reading this article:
This article will also be the most useful if you've already read the first two articles in this series:
As we've mentioned throughout these articles, your success heavily relies on your ability to always work on the most impactful task next.

In order to do this, you first need to get all of your tasks in one place -- and the place that we recommend for this is Asana. It will be difficult -- or near impossible! -- to properly prioritize your work day if you have tasks and to-do lists floating around in a variety of different places. Put them all in one place! (Pro tip: Asana has great apps for creating tasks on the go.)

Prioritizing Your Tasks

Once all of your tasks are in Asana, it's important to take time in your work day to rank the tasks in order of impact. It may seem like you're taking a break from work to do this -- but you're actually doing the most important work of all! I recommend prioritizing your tasks at the beginning of your work day, after you've worked through your email for the first time -- and then doing a quick reprioritization after lunch.

In order to drag and drop your Today tasks in order of priority, we recommend using Asana's default incomplete tasks view (also known as 'None' in the sorting column) -- rather than sorting your tasks by Due Date or Project. To further visualize your work day, I personally recommend adding task groups (tab + N) for 'Morning', 'Afternoon', and 'Ambitious' - like so:


Moving Unfinished Tasks

At the end of your workday, it's important to take a few moments to move any unfinished tasks that were assigned for Today to future days. This has a few benefits:
  • It forces you to check through everything that's left undone and make sure that it's alright to move those tasks to future days. During this process, you may realize that one of the unfinished tasks does have a hard due date of today -- and it's better to find that out before it's too late, even if it means working a bit longer. 
  • It allows you to start each day with no past due tasks. It's important to never have any past due tasks -- they interrupt this system (by making it less clear which task is the highest priority), frequently demoralize the user (no one likes to see that red!) and often confuse stakeholders about the tasks' completion (did the assignee do this task and forget to check it off? or did they just not do it?)
Dealing With New Tasks

Along similar lines, it's important to check through any new tasks that are assigned to you whenever you're between tasks. This, too, has multiple advantages:
  • It prevents New Tasks from stacking up at the top of your screen.
  • Marking the tasks for their expected date of completion communicates this information to the assignee.
  • While moving the New Task down into its expected date of completion, you should also check to make sure that you have all of the information and assets needed to complete that assignment at that time. If you don't, you should let the assignee know immediately, to ensure that you'll be set up for success on the day you intend to complete the task. 
    • If you're waiting for clarification on a New Task, we recommend either leaving the task within your New Tasks (if minor clarification is needed) or assigning the task back to the assignee (if major clarification is needed).
Creating Tasks

When creating new tasks, it's important to be clear about exactly what is needed for the task to be complete. "Add more comedy venues to our site" is a terrible task to assign a Content Manager; "add 10 new scrapers for venues that host comedy shows" is much better.

When creating tasks, consider using the 'attach asset' tool (the paperclip!) at the top of the task to attach relevant assets and/or screenshots. And remember that you can tag people, projects and other tasks within task descriptions and comments by using the @ symbol (in the same way that you would when tagging something on Facebook) or by pasting in the relevant URL. 

Other members of your team are automatically added as followers on tasks where they are included in communication at any point. If you don't have anything specific to say to a teammate but want them to receive updates about the task in their Asana inbox, you can manually add them as a follower by hitting the + sign at the bottom of the task.

For more information on Asana tasks, check out this article.

Breaking Up Large Tasks 

Our general rule is that no task should take longer than an hour to complete. If you expect that more work is involved, we recommend breaking the task into smaller tasks of one-hour increments. This not only allows you to break down the larger task into manageable chunks within your workday, it also protects the task from being pushed off because it will take longer than most to complete.

If a task or group of related tasks takes longer than four hours to complete, we recommend using a project to track their completion. This should also encourage you to consider delegating pieces of the project that are best accomplished by other members of your team, even if you're the best person to manage the overall project.

For more information on Asana projects, check out this article.

Your Asana Inbox

Don't forget to check your Asana inbox! We recommend rocking through your Asana inbox communication 3-4 times a day, and using the same system to respond, prioritize and archive that communication that we recommend for managing your Gmail inbox in this article

Email Notifications

You shouldn't ever need to receive an email notification from Asana if you're using this service properly. Do yourself and your inbox a huge favor and turn off all of your Asana email notifications.

Go forth and Asana!

Now that you're an Asana pro, you should be all ready to go forth and crush your work days. For further assistance, please reach out to support@dostuffmedia.com or check out some other frequently-referenced articles here.
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