How to focus on actionable tasks only when using sub-tasks

I’ve been using Asana at work for a bit over a year now, and I haven’t found a good solution for getting a good overview of only the actionable tasks. Have worked with a (more or less) GTD system before and I realized how important that was. Two problems I have are:

  1. Filtering out (sub)tasks that are dependent on earlier tasks being completed but to which I am assigned, and
  2. Filtering out tasks that I am assigned to but that need all the sub-tasks to be completed first.

For context, I work in marketing. Currently we have a project called “Content Priorities”, in which each task is a piece of content. Within those tasks are the standard sub-tasks (e.g. create outline, finalize keyword research, create draft, review draft, update draft based on review, publish on website, add to content library). I am often put as the overall owner of the task, plus on the individual sub-tasks I’m responsible for.

When I look at “My Tasks”, the whole list gets muddled. I have to use unnecessary mental energy to determine which of the 4 or 5 tasks is the one I need to take action on (if I’m not waiting on someone else). I enjoy the My Tasks view because I like being able to put things in “Today” or “Upcoming” buckets. But seems like it’s not possible to add filters there.

My current workaround is creating a saved search called “Actionable Tasks” which does not have a tag of “Waiting”, but that’s a really manual process. I could alternatively create a saved search that filters out tasks that are a dependency, but that doesn’t solve the annoyance of seeing both the overall task (which is just there to “shepherd” along) and the next concrete sub-task that I need to actually take action on.

Anyone run into the same problem and/or have any advice?


Couple of ideas (I’ll re-read your message next week):

  • you should never be assigned a something you are not the one who should do the work
  • you should never have an assignee on something that is not a task
  • if you are assigned a task that has dependencies, I think you are notified whenever those dependencies are completed (not 100% sure)
  • you should heavily use task-autopromotion (something due Later should be pushed to Later with a due date, it will come back automatically)

Its a bit of a mind shift, but we ditched the notion of ‘who is overall responsible’ for this task, and changed to the concept of who is responsible right now.

As soon as I ask someone a question (or waiting on someone) I assign the task to that person. Set a due date for that task and let Asana do the work of chasing them up. People do the same for me and I really appreciate the auto reminders they are waiting on me for something.

Maybe this will help you to?

Ben Munk

Sent on Android

Ok so it seems like being deliberate about making all the subtasks dependencies is the best way to filter out future tasks (I can do this in the saved view, though not under My Tasks).

However, if I’m understanding correctly you’d recommend that either 1) no one is assigned the overall task (e.g. X Topic Blog Post) or 2) the overall owner is constantly changed to reflect the person who is currently working on it. I think I’d probably prefer number 1 if only because number 2 would mean I would have duplicate tasks every time I am working on the subtask (e.g. I would see “X Topic Blog Post” and “X Topic Blog Post > Create Outline” in my list).

I guess number 1 would also most closely align with the situation if we were to break all the subtasks out as individual tasks–there would be no overall owner. The reason I really don’t want to do that though is that I love the overview you get using the subtasks being threaded together on the overall task. And having a board called “content priorities” would be impossibly muddled if all our subtasks were tasks.