New tasks vs. Updating Existing Task

As our company is a creative development company, many of our tasks go through a number of stages before we can consider it “completed”. So we use subtasks fairly extensively. There are many tasks that are never considered “complete”, as creative projects continue to morph and be developed. But I am noticing that this method does mean that very few things get to be checked off as completed, leading it to sometimes feel as if productivity is low, when “due dates” are constantly changed for the next stage of that task’s development.

Splitting things up into multiple task cards just for the purpose of the good feeling of checking things off as completed, doesn’t seem to be a good option either, as the history/workflow of a task is good to keep in one task card; not to mention the time it takes to re-create a virtually duplicate task card, when the original is still valid for the next phase of development of that particular task.

My question for advanced users is: am I missing something in terms of being able to have long term and ongoing tasks get their little “completed” wins; or in keeping tasks as being active works-in-progress, when there may not be any pressing time-sensitive actions needed on that task? I’ve also noticed that as we adjust the due date on long term tasks, it starts to fill up the updates section on the bottom of the task card with “changed the date range” updates. Should I be creating things I consider to be subtasks to be dependent tasks instead, so that each dependent task can be worked and on completed, but still links back to the overall task? I’m concerned that poses problems for us, as we often need to know if those subtasks have been completed when reviewing the work to be done on a larger multi-aspect task.

FYI: most of these types of tasks would not be well suited to becoming their own projects or sections, as we are already using those to organize various aspects of production very effectively. So I’m guessing I’m probably already using what is the most effective workflow for our particular needs with ongoing tasks. And just need to pat myself on the back when I check off a subtask as completed. But if anyone has ideas of things I haven’t thought of yet, I’d love hear some feedback.

I think that likely gives as much info as needed on my question - but in case anyone is needing more specifics, here’s a real world example for us (otherwise, feel free to answer with the info you already got from above):

For our company, each project has several sections that are very specific (i.e., the different aspects/teams needed to go from original idea concept, through development/financing, into production and on to distribution, etc.) And so all the work being done for those specific aspects (subjects) are done as tasks, with subtasks to detail the pieces and parts that make up that particular task. To look something like this:

Project: New TV Show project we’re developing to sell
Section: Development
Task: Develop Pitch Document for Investors
Subtask: Create Graphics for Pitch
Subtask: Create Intro Section, etc.
Subtask: Get feedback from ______ on page 5 and 6 (and on like that, etc.)

The pieces and parts of a Pitch Document that make it “ready to send out”, are developed (and re-developed) over a long period. So while subtasks get checked off, the overall task continues on it gets tweaked with the feedback coming in, and the due dates get shifted as needed. They’re really never considered “complete” until a show is sold - that could be anything from months to years. When working on developing a pitch doc, it’s good to have an overall picture of what items are still pressing, what are completed and what are still being worked on long term. So we use subtasks for that. And drop notes into the task card with requests for input, updates on progress, etc.

We looked at breaking the various subtasks involved with the development of a pitch document out into their own tasks, to resolve the ‘checking off as complete’ issue, but I don’t think it ultimately is the best option, as everything related to that one kind of pitch document really should be kept together. And there may be 3 other kinds of pitch documents (or more) that are also concurrently being developed for different aspects of the project (housed in their appropriate sections of the project). So we wouldn’t want to get those tasks confused with each other.

Anyway, thanks in advance for feedback!

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Hi @Henry_Farnam, thanks for reaching out :slight_smile:

I’ve gone ahead and moved your post to the #usecases to make it more discoverable for other Community members who are looking to offer their suggestions, I hope you don’t mind!

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Great post @Henry_Farnam

Nothing jumps out to me that would fundamentally to change or tweak your workflow…

One Idea that doesn’t solve but might make the management of those ongoing Tasks easier, would be the following;

  • Assuming that for a period of time your “New TV Show” project is actively worked on by multiple people.
  • Then their will be a stage when it isn’t as active and not as many people are working on it but there are a few key tasks/subtasks that need to not be lost but kept working on.
  • Maybe having another project that is setup specifically to manage those Ongoing Tasks. Where the original Task and all that information is multi homed in that project.
  • Then using sections in that project to show progress/success. Even if it as simple as having a section say Next Draft Pitch Document Sent to Investors.

Hope that gives you some possible ideas…

Regards

Jason.

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Thanks Jason! That’s an interesting thought. I’ll explore it a bit. As a new user, I’m discovering things about Asana every day, and yesterday, I had clicked on the options for subtasks and realized there’s a whole extra level of categorizing you can do with subtasks. I’ve not ventured far enough into it to see if you can do the same with sub-sub-tasks and sub-sub-sub’s (or, in fact, how far you can spiderweb it out with sub’s in any given task). But that could also resolve some of this for us, as well. Will keep playing with it.

While I’m on the subject, I’m still trying to figure out that best workflow for task updates in the task comments section with things like due date changes? I’m torn on this, as I set up a custom rule to automatically update all due dates that are “missed” to a new due date range that will assure we triage pending tasks appropriately. I’ve also added a custom rule to add a comment to any tasks that are overdue, so that we make sure important things don’t slip through the cracks.

Being a new user, I’m not yet sure if every update to a task card is automatically listed in the comments section, or if I need that custom rule I set as a safeguard. But I am finding that in being a small operation in startup mode, and using Asana’s suggestion of “always adding a due date/due date range to every new task”, that we’re always going to be somewhat “behind” on due dates, as priorities shift daily due to the nature of our business. Which results in the comments section on tasks getting rather mucked up with lists of “due date missed!” and “due date modified” messages. Those messages are imperative and helpful when there are hard and fast due dates on tasks that we’ve prioritized. But with the large percentage of our tasks that fall into the “SHOULD get done ASAP” category, we need those tasks “waiting in the wings”, but don’t necessarily need the scolding/warning from Asana that the due date was missed.

So, I’ve found myself doing a lot of manual housekeeping on those task updates in the comments section to delete the series of “due date missed/modified” comments from Asana that are not useful to us when we open up that task’s card. Which is admittedly not a good use of my time.

I do love that Asana seems to group comments together, so that the comments log doesn’t get impossible to scroll through when seeking useful comments from team members (I need to a do a deeper dive on the forum to figure out how Asana manages group comments, and if I can manipulate it at all with custom rules). And with a small team who can’t risk missing the hard and fast due dates, I’m probably smart to just let those due date updates all be listed in the comments section (luckily everyone who currently has access to our tasks, are fairly clear on which tasks have real due dates and which fall into the “best guess/get to it as soon as it’s feasible”). But the OCD side of me cringes every time I open any given task that has not yet been triaged to a solid/real due date and I see the log of due date scoldings from Asana.

So I’m guessing the answer is that I need to disconnect my “naughty pupil/employee” brain when seeing those comments. But I can’t help but wonder - as we get busier and add more team members - if important comments we really do need team members to see, could potentially be lost/difficult to find, if a comments section has been filled with a slew of due date updates. Still trying to figure that aspect out.

Will update here as I develop solutions for this.

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