The coolest Asana rules 😎

Hi :wave:,

When you discovered the Automation feature, with its triggers and actions, you probably thought “yeah that is cool, I could use it to automate a bunch of stuff like complete a task when a status changes”. I was pretty excited myself, and I was even more excited when innovative and fun ideas started popping up here and there about how to use rules in new ways… Here is a list of the coolest Asana Rules you probably did not think about!

The Unassigner
The Cry for Help
The Butler
The Clock Master
The Date Equalizer
The Lurker
The Architect
The Template Perfectionist
The Finisher
The Protector
The Storyteller
The Middle-Man

:star: The Unassigner :star:

  • Goal: assign a task with a rule even though this action does not exist (yet).
  • Idea: if your email address is siebmanb@gmail.com (highly unlikely because it’s mine), then you can create an Asana account with siebmanb+invisible-man@gmail.com. The subscription emails will lend in your regular Gmail account, but Asana will see it as a new guest account. Name your account « Invisible Man » and add a nice profile picture. Voilà: you can set up rules to assign to the invisible man.
  • Why it’s cool: because you can now un-assign from yourself without assigning it to an existing user.

:star: The Cry for Help :star:

  • Goal: have a “ask for help” action on tasks.
  • Idea: create a custom field called “Action” with an option “Ask for help” that adds the task to a project followed by a group of senior staff and another rule to assign it to a guest account (like the Invisible Man). Then set up a rule to reset the custom field to the value « -« (you need to actually create that option).
  • Why it’s cool: you never know who you should ask for help? This rule will do the work for you.

The Cry for Help-2 The Cry for Help-3 The Cry for Help


:star: The Butler :star:

  • Goal: use a custom field as an action list.
  • Idea: create a custom field with options like “Complete, un-assign and archive”, and create rules to do just this whenever this value is chosen for the custom field. Then set up a rule to reset the custom field to the value « -« (you need to actually create that option).
  • Why it’s cool: because we always see custom fields as “dumb” values, never as actions you could trigger. And you can save time by combining multiple actions.

The Butler-1 The Butler-2 The Butler-3 The Butler-4


:star: The Clock Master :star:

  • Goal: get notified of any due date change.
  • Idea: create a project called “Check due dates” and create a rule to add any task with a due date changed to that project.
  • Why it’s cool: you don’t need to forbid people to change due dates anymore, you can watch from behind the curtain.

The Clock Master


:star: The Date Equalizer :star:

  • Goal: have the due date always match the completion date.
  • Idea: set up a rule to change the due date to “0 days” whenever a task is completed.
  • Why it’s cool: for reporting reason, you might need the due date to match the completion date. You are welcome.

The Date Equalizer


:star: The Lurker :star:

  • Goal: automatically watch tasks assigned to a junior employee
  • Idea: set up a rule to be added as a follower whenever a task is assigned to someone.
  • Why it’s cool: you can quietly watch work without disturbing or stressing anyone.

The Lurker


:star: The Architect :star:

  • Goal: automatically build a master project, from various sources.
  • Idea: in various projects, create a rule that automatically adds any task created to a master project.
  • Why it’s cool: your master project will always be up-to-date with all its children’s tasks.

The Architect


:star: The Template Perfectionist :star:

  • Goal: be notified of new task added to a template so you can update existing projects.
  • Idea: create a rule in a template project to add a new task to a project called « Update existing template implementation »
  • Why it’s cool: when a template is updated, it does not update all projects based on it.

The Template Perfectionnist


:star: The Cancellor :star:

  • Goal: store together all tasks you were not able to finish and tag with them for a specific reason.
  • Idea: create a project called « Cancelled tasks » with a drop-down custom fields and various reasons. Also, create a user account with a guest email, call him « The Finisher » and add a nice avatar with a superhero mask. Create rules with a trigger « Assigned to The Finisher » and actions are « Mark as complete », « add to canceled tasks project ». Then just choose the reason for cancellation.
  • Why it’s cool: it will be fun to actually cancel tasks, you’ll get a nice cancellation history on which you can run stats.
    Thanks @lpb for coming up with this one.

The Finisher-2 The Finisher


:star: The Protector :star:

  • Goal: when using 3rd-party apps, you don’t want to give them access to your whole Asana. For some rules, like « Add task to project » you can use « The Protector » to prevent apps from accessing your whole Asana.
  • Idea: create a guest account in your Asana with a single project called after the specific use case (like « Zapier PipeDrive »). Connect to the 3rd party with that limited-access account and make it add tasks to the project. From an admin account, set up a rule with the trigger « Task added » and action « Add task to another project » and target your accounting project.
  • Why it’s cool: you don’t want to give 3rd party access to everything!

The Protector



:star: The Storyteller :star:

  • Goal: automatically comment when a step is chosen in a drop-down custom field to explain what that step involves.
  • Idea: create one rule per value in a drop-down field to comment automatically, the comment should include what the step means in terms of deliverables for example or what it involved.
  • Why it’s cool: sometimes it is hard to track the steps a task went through + you might need to keep track of the “definition” of a step at one point in time.



:star: The Middle-Man :star:

  • Goal: automatically add to an inbox project any task being added or commented on by a client.
  • Idea: create a project to hold any task with an unanswered question and create two rules. The first one adds any new task inside your client project to this project. The second one adds any task commented on to this project. Your team should be notified of any new task coming into the “Unanswered questions” project.
  • Why it’s cool: because you can be very reactive to client needs!
  • inspire by @Chris_Labatt-Simon
    Capture d’écran 2020-01-09 à 14.37.48
    Capture d’écran 2020-01-09 à 14.37.24

Do you have other ideas?! Comment below :point_down:

28 Likes

Really fantastic post, @Bastien_Siebman, with so many great ideas–and tremendous, creative names! “The Architect” is a particularly useful pattern for many use cases where one needs to keep two or more projects in sync.

It’s worth pointing out that each idea could have many alternate implementations, perhaps to simplify or otherwise tweak to one’s workflow.

Question: For The Lurker you wrote “you can quietly watch work without disturbing or stressing anyone” (and similarly for The Clock Master: “you can watch from behind the curtain”), but when a person changes a due date, (or adds a task) won’t that person each time see a toast message that the custom rule has run (big brother!)? In some cases like this perhaps having oneself as a Collaborator on the task is actually less obtrusive.

Re “The Finisher:” I contributed this pattern while reviewing a draft of your post and you did a great job improving on it. Maybe the guest user should be called “The Cancellor” (reminds me of Chancellor!) to better evoke the Cancel (vs. Complete) focus of this pattern.

Great job,

Larry

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Thanks @lpb! I completely messed up not thanking you for the Finisher, just renamed it and thanked you in the post.

About the many pop up, you are right I missed that point! My guess (and hope) is that it is this way because Rules are quite new, but that will become very fast very annoying and they will remove the notifications!

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Much appreciated, @Bastien_Siebman, and congratulations on such a high-value post here!!!

Larry

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This is amazing @Bastien_Siebman! Thank you for sharing these super helpful ideas with the Community Forum! :heart: I loved the names, especially “The Cry for Help” one :joy:

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Really nice rules…

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Nice ideas!
Thumbs up!

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Loved this post, very insightful & fun too - thanks!

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I’ve added :star: The Storyteller :star: !

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The rule names are definitely the best part… :laughing:

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@Bastien_Siebman can you confirm these rules can only be used with the Business Subscription?
I liked them alot especially the Ask for Help one which I was going to use but can’t get it to work with Just the Premium Account.

Jason.

To be honest, when I look at the Rule feature on my Premium account, my brain hurts. The interface is terrible, it takes me too much energy to even understand the slightest possibility. I did all these using the custom rule editor on a Business account.

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@Bastien_Siebman and @Jason_Woods,

Here is the simple list of rules that are available in the Premium subscription:

  • Task moved to a certain column / section --> mark complete
  • Marked complete --> move task to a certain column / section
  • Custom field changed --> mark complete
  • Marked complete --> Set custom field
  • Custom field changed --> move task to a certain column / section
  • Task moved to a certain column / section --> set custom field

For any other combination of triggers and/or actions than the above, it requires a Business subscription (or Flowsana, whose rules work just fine with a Premium subscription :wink: ).

4 Likes

How about one we use, which I’ll call “Answer the question”.

We have 100+ projects representing active onboards into our software platform. We have multiple team members managing these.

The problem? To see if a customer has added a task or commented on a task, you have to go to each project or create a report of everything sorted by last updated.

The solution?

  1. Create a new project called unanswered questions that is only open to the group that needs to see them.
  2. On each project, create two rules in each project. One rule that adds new tasks to “Unanswered Questions”. The second rule that adds a task that has been commented on to “Unanswered Questions.”

Result? Now you only have to monitor the Unanswered Questions project for any updates, and once you’ve answered the question or comment, remove the task from the Unanswered Questions project. Guests cannot see the unanswered questions project - only their project.

The flaw - currently actions do not support this for subtasks, so you’ll miss those.

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Nice one! I’ll test it and include it.

That’s a great one too!! Thanks for sharing @Chris_Labatt-Simon!!

I cant’ wait to see what you come up with as we continue improving Rules! :hugs:

I have added it under the name :star: The Middle-Man :star: ! Chris did I accurately described it?

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So thanks @Bastien_Siebman and @Phil_Seeman this post inspired me to get my act together and get some automation sorted out for the CEO of PeacefulHub (aka My Wife)…

So using Flowsana I now have 8 rules which add Subtasks based on Custom Field changes or Create a New Project form a Template.

I also use “Invisible Man” assignment to kick off a Zapier integration with our Accountancy Package to create a New Contact and once it has been created returns and unassign the “Invisible Man”.

Thanks Again Guys…

Jason.

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