Establish Asana conventions
Now that you’ve introduced your team to Asana you’ll want to make sure everyone agrees on a few key conventions. Making decisions up front about how Asana works best for your team will set you up for long-term success, and help you get the most out of Asana Premium features later on. Agreeing on a few conventions will also help everyone on your team feel comfortable with Asana.
We recommend discussing team conventions soon after you introduce Asana to your team. That way, everyone has time to get familiar with Asana, but they haven’t necessarily established their use patterns yet. See what works for them and how they like to use it. Host a conventions meeting and create an Asana conventions project before your meeting:
Every team will have unique preferences, but here’s some guidance to help get you started on defining your team's conventions.
We recommend encouraging everyone to create tasks and assign them to anyone on the team (even direct reports should be able to assign tasks to managers). Asana is most useful when anyone can contribute their ideas and move action items forward.
We advise making task names specific and action-based. For example, instead of “Blog post,” create a task called “Write [title] blog post” and one called “Publish [title] blog post”, so there’s no question about what needs to get done.
You may want to establish naming conventions for a specific project if tasks move through a certain workflow.
Writing a good task
Your team should define what details are necessary to make a task “good”. Every task has space to add a description, due date, assignee, collaborators, subtasks, and comments. We recommend including context and important details to ensure the assignee is empowered to complete the task:
- Link to relevant work in the task description by @mentioning related tasks, projects, or Messages.
- Attach files when referencing a document.
- Set realistic due dates for your teammates as soon as they are known, or with your best guess so they’re on the radar.
- Add start and due dates so it’s clear when someone should start on the work in order to successfully complete it by the deadline.
- Add teammates as collaborators so they can stay up to date on task progress.
- Mark a task as dependent upon another so teammates only start that task when the prior task has been completed.
- Use rich text in task descriptions to make your message clear with formatted text, and bulleted and numbered lists.
Updating tasks assigned to you
When someone assigns you a task, it means you are in charge of moving that work forward. Here are some suggested ways to keep teammates informed of your progress:
- Like the task so the requester knows you have seen it.
- If you have questions or updates, comment directly on the task.
- If you change the due date, add a comment to explain why it was moved to reset expectations.
- Pin the most relevant comment or conclusion to a discussion to the top of the conversation.
- If you aren’t able to prioritize the work, assign the task back to the creator or use @mentioning to ask teammates if they can take the task.
- If the task has custom fields, fill them out accordingly, and continue to keep them up to date as work on the task progresses.
- Does your team use Slack? If so, you can easily take actions on tasks right from Slack to keep working without tools.
When you assign a subtask, be sure the assignee has enough context from the parent task or within the subtask description. Avoid burying subtasks under too many layers. You can always drag subtasks into the main pane of your project to convert it from a subtask to a task.
Naming template tasks
Duplicate a template project or task template for repeatable, recurring, and predictable workflows. When you create templates, label the task or project name so it’s clear to teammates it’s a template and it’s easily found through search (e.g., “Template” or “Duplicate me”). Provide clear instructions on how and when the task or project should be used in the task or project description.
Creating new projects
Similar to tasks, anyone can create a project. You might designate one person on the team to do this so that everything is organized similarly.
Creating a good project
- Decide what kinds of workflows will use lists, and which will use boards.
- For each major workflow, initiative, or meeting, write a descriptive project name and keep the naming conventions the same.
- Set the project description with goals and objectives to remind teammates what each project is for.
- Set up the project overview so your teammates can always find the project brief and see project roles. As you move work forward, be sure to check the Overview tab for status updates.
- Add sections to help organize your project and provide clear delineation of phases or categories.
- Set up custom fields so you can track all necessary information on every task created in the project.
- Create a custom template or use an Asana-created template to standardize your common workflows and projects and start every project quickly. That way, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel for every project, and you’ll know you haven’t missed a step.
Managing a project
When you create a project, you become the project owner by default. You can change the project owner in the progress view. The project owner or a dedicated teammate should keep the project organized and post weekly status updates.
- As new tasks are created or work moves forward, ensure tasks have an assignee and due date, move them to the appropriate sections or columns, and update their custom fields if relevant.
- Add project rules to save time managing the project and to help teammates follow the right steps. Rules automate manual work, like updating Asana fields or assigning tasks.
- If tasks become overdue or do not have due dates assigned, follow up with the assignee to get work back on track.
- Set task milestones in your project so you can ensure you’re hitting major goals and keeping tabs on key markers of progress in a simple, visual way.
- Use timeline to map out your project plan and make adjustments as you progress toward your goal. You can easily see task dependencies and adjust your project schedule with the Gantt-style view.
- If you manage multiple projects, add them to a portfolio to organize and monitor them by initiative. Portfolios make it easier to monitor the status of all your projects.
Sending status updates
The project owner or dedicated teammate should send regular project status updates from the progress view of your project.
- Status updates provide clarity for your team and cross functional teams about how the project is moving forward.
- Set a color for your status update to green, yellow, or red to indicate how your project is moving along.
- Teammates can reply to status updates when they have questions and feedback, or when they want to create a follow-up task.
- The Project Owner will receive reminder tasks to update the project status each week.
Add projects to a Portfolio to see all status updates, project deadlines and progress (or ping project owners for an update on these things)—in one place.
Using team Messages
We recommend committing to using Messages for all internal team communication instead of email. Gently remind your teammates to use Asana instead of email when necessary.
Using email notifications
Asana sends email notifications for new activity, so that teammates who aren’t using Asana all the time can stay in the loop. People who use Asana all the time usually prefer to use Inbox (and not email) to stay on top of updates.
We suggest keeping email notifications on until you and your teammates are accustomed to checking Asana often. You can turn them on and off in My Settings.
Reducing email within your team
For better success we recommend teams stop sending requests and project needs via email and instead use Asana. Email is great to reach someone outside your Organization or make an introduction, but it’s not equipped to plan, manage, and prioritize work. That’s what Asana is for.
With our Asana for Gmail Add-on and Asana for Outlook app, you can quickly turn emails into action right from your inbox. Using these email integrations can be an easy way to get your team in the habit of moving from email to Asana without making them learn something new or changing how they work.
Reinforcing your conventions
Setting conventions with your team will help keep Asana organized for everyone, establish clarity, and ultimately help everyone contribute in the most effective way. Have up to a few teammates help reinforce conventions so others feel safe knowing that they won’t “break” anything and can get helpful tips if they are still getting the hang of it.
Create a “safe project” in Asana where people can play around to learn about features and how they interact without worrying they’ll tinker with real work.
Once you establish conventions with your team, store them in a project for everyone to reference, as well as for future new teammates. That way, everybody can be on the same page and refer back to your team conventions after you’ve decided on them together.
Try using Asana for your next team meeting and take some time to reiterate your team's Asana conventions.