How can I start working on large tasks in a simple way?

I added tasks frequently, but they are large tasks like “idea: blah 2, 4 and blah” and I rely on the due date to get me to start working on it.

However, mentally, I know how large of a task this is. That is requires 4-7 sub-things that need to be done, and that I won’t be able to complete it today.

So the obvious answer is to break this task into smaller ones and assign due dates to those (as I type this, it’s becoming clearer to me that subtasks are the big answer lol but lets see what comes up from you gurus)

Here’s what I’m wondering if I put 4 subtasks with due dates like this:

March 1
March 2
March 3
March 4

Then what do I do to the due date of the main task? Set the due date of the main task to the due date of the 4th and final subtask (March 4)?

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Subtask is one way to go indeed. Do you really need a due date on the main task?

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Hey @mham, thanks for your great question!

@Bastien_Siebman is definitely correct here, subtasks would be one way to achieve your goal! Also rather than adding a specific due date to your main task, you could always add a timeframe with a start and due date.

Another way to break down a big task more visually would be to use dependencies. You could mark all subtask under your main task dependent on each other and assign them all to yourself (or other users). Then once the first subtask has been marked complete the assignee of subtask number 2 would then receive a notification letting them know that they can start working on their subtask.

Dependencies look especially good in your Projects Timeline. When working with subtasks please make sure to always add them to the Project itself to allow them to be visible in the Timeline or Calendar view!

I hope this helps, please let me know if I can help you in any other way!

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@Edda, I’m afraid what you wrote is not exactly accurate, including perhaps in @mham’s particular case:

If @mham is the assignee of both tasks, no notification is generated. I actually wrote about this in the Forum over a year ago (Task dependencies reminder), and requested a change, because I was expecting to use this feature to trigger notices to myself but Asana has disabled these notifications for personal use and they only work when different assignees exist. When it’s the same assignee, you do see a story, but that’s tiny, no notification is used and it doesn’t at all serve the purpose of a trigger because there is no notification.


Thanks for your reply guys!
@Bastien_Siebman, I guess you’re right - no need for due dates on the main task. I’m just OCD.
@Edda I love the idea of using a date range! But even more so using dependencies would be the logical next step, except I agree with @lpb I have never received any notifications when the tasks are to me.

And that’s sad, really.

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@mham, I think it’s helpful to ask yourself what your goal is when using Asana for these tasks, and then do the minimum necessary to achieve it; otherwise you’re creating extra work.

So I agree with @Bastien_Siebman’s question about whether you need a Due Date. I only assign them when I really need them, like for an actual event or deliverable on a date, or if I’m marking something as Later and relying on auto task promotion to have it appear on a future date in My Tasks (and then once there I will remove the date otherwise it’s misleading).

I rely on an organized My Tasks list (with my added sections) to know what I need to look at and work on. You don’t need a due date for a task to be in My Tasks (except as noted above). And I rely on projects where the tasks are deliberately listed in the order they should be worked on and I work from the top down.

I’d caution about using Dependencies because 1) it’s extra work; don’t use it unless you need it, and 2) you don’t mention collaborators; if just yourself, the feature won’t work for you as I noted in my prior post in this thread.

Breaking down your tasks is often a great idea, not necessarily to trigger or remind you, but to see the steps of your project clearly. So doing this as a task with subtasks*, or a project with tasks, or a project with tasks and with subtasks* are all good, but you don’t necessarily need to assign any to yourself, give start or due dates, or dependencies, especially if it’s just you. You may find it most efficient to have a single item in My Tasks “Work on project ABC” with an @reference to it in the description to click on it.

Hope that helps,


*subtasks are disliked by some but, in my mind, when used properly, are perfect for breaking down work.



Have a look at this suggestion based on the GTD method…
Do you use the Getting Things Done (GTD) method?

Hope this helps.

Yes agree @lpb wish notification worked for self assigned dependencies…



The reason I assign to myself and also set due dates is because I’m in a position where the work can certainly get away from me. And having the automation of having tasks appear in to “My Tasks” really saves me time.

I then follow @paulminors’s method where I further separate the My Tasks into 3 daily parts (morning, afternoon, evening).

So going by yours and @Bastien_Siebman’s recommendation, I think I’m going to:
a) Use due dates for all subtasks so a larger project disguides as a task doesn’t get away from me
b) Give a buffer between the due range of the last sub-task and set a due range for the main task. This way it allows me time to review the subtasks’ completion before marking the main task as done.

@Jason_Woods’s pointer on the GTD method of using SP is also noteworthy. But I’m only now getting started with Milestones so I guess that comes soon after I get my feet wet…

Thanks to everyone for contributing and help me solidify my next steps :slight_smile: