Using Asana "summary" projects to view your most important tasks

projects
boards

#1

I just wrote a blog post and shot a screen recording of how I use “summary” projects to be more organised.

One of the most common problems I see when people and companies get started with Asana is that they create a tonne of projects. It’s easy to get carried away in the beginning and I get why people do this; it’s a good idea to get everything out of your head and into a system like Asana.

However, the problem with having lots of projects is that it becomes quite difficult to make sense of all the work and identify your team’s most important tasks and projects.

This is why I rely on a number of “summary” projects to make sense of the most important tasks. A “summary” project is a project that includes select tasks from other projects and organises them in a different way. These summary projects only contain tasks from other projects i.e. there are no tasks in this project alone. All tasks come from somewhere else.

Have a watch of my video to see how I’ve set this up and use things like a Kanban board to organise my most important tasks.

Would love to hear your feedback on this technique!


Tagging a Project & Top Level Project Review
We do Asana wrong — but it kind of works
Board view of projects
Overwhelmed by projects/tasks
Face to face Asana training
Getting Started with Asana
#2

Hi @paulminors, I just shared your blog post with a customer yesterday!

I think having a summary project is a great idea and helps keep everything organized. I’ve also seen customers use a “summary” project similar to a cover sheet by making each task multi-homed to a separate project. This allows them to technically use custom fields on the project level when viewing the cover sheet project.


#3

Thanks for the feedback @Kristen. Exactly! They’re pretty useful when you start playing around with them. :grinning: The Kanban board is now one of my most commonly used projects.


#4

Thanks @paulminors! Nice to get the confirmation that I’m adhering to a best practice of the power users :wink: I’ve been calling them TOC projects or Table of Contents projects, but I like your “Summary” projects much better. One challenge I’ve had is that I’ve got some rather large teams and inevitably people start checking off items from the summary projects. Do you have any best practices or language to prevent people from using these summaries in that way? Thanks again!


#5

Thanks for the feedback @Cameron_Chinatti!

Interesting question - Who are the tasks assigned to (the one’s being ticked off)? If you’re assigning tasks to people and then referencing the tasks in the summary project, surely you’d want them to be ticked off when the assignee completes the work?

Have I misunderstood?

Or, is it that you’d like to “sign off” on the work before the task is marked as complete?

In terms of suggestions, you could use a tag like “Do Not Edit” to make it clear that it’s for reference only and not to be edited. Alternatively you could add “Do not edit” to the task name, like this: “[DO NOT EDIT] Write blog post”.


Where to store attributes of a project?
#6

I really like this idea and have been using it quite a lot. However, I am still missing a function, which enables users to sort their projects (not tasks) in a list or on a board. Due to our workflow, we create lots of projects throughout the week, so I also added a “table of content” project for our team and a kanban board which gives an overview of all the projects.

At the moment, I am doing this by creating a task that has the same title as the project and only contains a link to the project in its description. I then add the task to the board and the table of content list (in their respective column/section). This requires a lot of discipline when adding, pausing and finishing projects (for which we are heavily dependent on our clients). It’s also very time consuming to teach this process to other team members who are in charge of managing the projects. That it effectively takes a click longer to get to the project is not that big of an issue though.

I would be very happy, if Asana added a feature like this in the future, because it would make our workflow much easier. I can’t really tell if this is just due to our weird workflow or whether this would be helpful to more users. Would love some feedback! Also, let me know if this is the wrong topic for this discussion. :wink:


#7

Yeah I like this idea. What you’re doing is a common workaround for now.


#8

We are suffixing such overview projects with “Mile High”, and manage them in instagantt (since it allowed to see an overview, visually rearrange and have multiday tasks). We have number of rules:

  • sync project Due Date with “Mile High” task Due Date
  • keep task and project interlinked in description
  • keep project owner and “Mile High” task assignee in sync
  • keep project members and “Mile High” task followers in sync

As you mentioned keeping this in sync manually and keeping team organized to keep this in sync is not trivial.


#9

We tried to do this for a while, but then we realized that it is easier to keep the due date and the assignee of the tasks in our ‘summary projects’ empty. Instead of having to keep everything in sync, we introduced a specific process for creating, pausing, updating and finishing projects, which ensured that there was always a corresponding task for each project in our ‘summary project’ (e.g. Kanban Board). This way, we have all the content in one place (the project) and just use the corresponding task as a ‘link’ in multiple summary projects.

Our problems with keeping these things in sync were mostly due to us introducing Asana at once and during a very busy time. It was simply not possible to invest the time to keep everything in sync. Plus, I am still hoping that Asana will come up with a solution at some point :stuck_out_tongue: