Due date best practices

I’m struggling with the due date feature and the best way of using it with my team.

When assigning a new task to a team member, I normally set it to the next day to make sure they see the task in the “My tasks” view. I add a note in the task to change the due date according to the project timeline but, everything we need an answer from someone in order to move forward, we change the due date to the day that we need the feedback for.

I guess my question is, how do you use the due date? We tag people but we also change the due date to make sure the conversation fall into a crack.

I think our process could be improved and I am curious to know what we can do better.

Thanks!

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Hi @Raphaelle_Sirhan and thanks for reaching out! Here are a few tips that I hope can help:

You don’t necessarily need to add a due date for the task to land in your colleague My Tasks. Tasks will automatically go to their My Tasks when you assign them.

Personally, when I assign a task to a colleague I always add a due date. If it’s something urgent and this person is in my timezone, I’ll put a due date for today. If it’s less urgent or my colleague is in a different timezone, I usually set it for tomorrow. For any other situation, I use the due date as an indication, and when the due date is far away but firm, I either add a comment or create a dependency to indicate that this task is blocking others!

Hope this helps!

@Phil_Seeman, @Jason_Woods, @Bernie_Orelup, @Brenda, @Julien_RENAUD, @lpb, @Bastien_Siebman I’m curious to know if you’ve any tips to share with @Raphaelle_Sirhan ?

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A due date in the next day means (if you respect the good practices) that the task is due the next day. If you start having two types of due dates (really due, or just “to show”) then you’ll end up with people discarding the due date because it is not accurate…

I strongly advise against not using the due date for what it is: tell when the work is due. And instead educate people on how to use their Inbox and My Tasks properly…

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@Raphaelle_Sirhan,

I agree with @Marie and @Bastien_Siebman, basically.

Also…It seems like your colleagues are not paying attention to Notifications, only My Tasks, and that will make Asana collaboration difficult.

Additionally, it seems like you should be adding a subtask, or separate task, for the “we need an answer” part of the task; that would give you a separate due date field to use for that part of the work to avoid the scenario Bastien cites.

Hope that helps,

Larry

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For me, there are two opposing schools of thought.

(Caveat: the following applies to “one off” tasks that live on their own; if you have process projects with workflows and dependencies, then every task will need a due date for sure.)

One is the approach that you should always set a due date for every task. This is the “nothing gets done without a deadline” camp. Here’s one explanation of this philosophy: https://www.planplusonline.com/if-it-wasnt-for-deadlines-nothing-would-get-done/

The other approach (which is where I throw my support) is the idea that you should only assign a due date if a task absolutely has to be done by a certain date, otherwise leave it blank. Here’s an explanation of this approach which I’ve written about elsewhere:

I advocate assigning a due date to a task only when it absolutely has to be done on or by a certain date . If you have a meeting scheduled for next Thursday morning, and you have a report to prepare for the meeting, then it would be appropriate to assign a due date of next Wednesday for that item, because it has to be done by then.

But you’ll find that the majority of tasks live in the realm of “I need to get that done currently” or “now” or “as soon as I can”, or in the realm of “I’m not going to be doing that just now”. For these items, assigning a due date is not necessary and in fact can be counterproductive for several reasons:

  • Logistically: The odds are that you will not get everything done that you planned to do on a given day. If you have a due date assigned to a number of items that are not completed on that date, you will end up wasting precious time adjusting and tweaking due dates on these items.
  • Psychologically: If you do not get everything done that you marked as due for that day, it will be obvious as the due date stares you in the face, and you’ll tend to beat yourself up for it: “Darn, I planned to do those six things today and I didn’t get them done!”

This approach argues that priorities change day to day, and that rather than assigning dates to all tasks, you should re-evaluate and re-order your task list first thing each morning to reflect the current priorities at that time.

You might want to discuss both of these approaches with your team, decide on one of them, try it out for some agreed-on time frame, and see how it works. Then try the other approach for a time, and see which one works best overall.

The only “catch” I’ll add is that how an individual mentally interacts with due dates is a pretty personal thing and varies from brain to brain, so to speak - some people will respond better to one approach while others’ brains work best with the other philosophy. But you’re likely going to struggle as a team if some members use one approach and others use the other, so you’ll probably need to choose one way as a team and stick with it.

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This is all very interesting! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and recommend the best practices on this. I’m putting a simple training together for my team so I’ll include a new way of using due dates and test it.

Thank you guys!

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One clarification: I mistakenly wrote

It seems like your colleagues are not paying attention to Notifications, only Inbox, and that will make Asana collaboration difficult.

Instead of “Inbox” I meant “My Tasks;” I just edited my earlier comment.

As Bastien said I also think that the date must be the true due date. Otherwise, the schedules and calendars would all be wrong. We often forget that a task that is in MyTasks can also belong to a shared project, and then colleagues can refer to it to check deadlines. And in that case you need the true due date.

And you should also train your colleagues of the different notifications they will have in their Inbox.

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