Using Asana to track personal, career or business goals

Looking for a simple way to manage and hit personal, business and career goals? Follow this guide on how you can use Asana to do it…

Goal setting is one of those things that most people know they need to do, but rarely execute. When you write down a goal it becomes a target to achieve through a series of steps. How do you align your actions each day, week and month to those goals?

Visualising, monitoring and tracking goals is an important part of personal and professional development. Unfortunately, the execution part comes down to having somewhere to write them down, track and then manage. Filling out a book sometimes results in your goals getting lost in the day to day.

When I engage with clients the first question I ask is what their overarching goals are. I do this so I can learn what actions I can take that will contribute to the achievement of those goals. You should be doing the same thing every day. Is what I’m doing now aligned with the goals I’ve set? It’s a question I ask myself and get my clients to ask their team regularly.

In this article I cover how you can simply & easily setup Asana to do a number of things:

  1. Become the ongoing reference point for your goal setting
  2. Give you a tool to track and manage your goals
  3. Give you the ability to align your goals with everyday tasks to create urgency
  4. Gives you a template to share with your team (or family) so you can sync your goals

Let’s start with getting your goal project setup in Asana. In this article and the majority I write I include the full suite of features available in Asana. Without a premium or business version you may find some of the features you can utilise unavailable, however the concept of why we’re creating this goal setting project and basic structure is applicable for everyone no matter what level of Asana you use.

Create your goals project

Create a project by clicking the + sign next to the appropriate team in your Asana dashboard and click on “Blank project”.
Name your project. I would recommend something like “Personal Goals”, “Career Goals”, “Business Goals” and click “Create project”.
You should then see a blank project that you can start populating

Setup sections

Before you start writing down goals inside your newly created project I want you to take some time and think about the best structure for planning and viewing your goals ongoing. The best way I’ve found to segment goal setting in a list or board view is to create sections aligned to goal setting timeframes. By breaking down goals to short and long periods you have the ability to segment both the setting, tracking and management of your goals. Let’s look at some sections I typically create for myself and different clients.

30 day goals
These can be short term goals or milestones you want to achieve within a specified upcoming month or 30 day timeline. Short term goals are great as it gives you focus and the direction of where your work should take you.

90 day goals
Similar to 30 day goals these quarterly time periods allow you to target more ambitious goals that may take you longer to achieve.

180 day goals
Half yearly goals are great to assess personal development or even financial results and give you a longer time frame to achieve and to assess against different periods.

365 day goals
Every year you should have big rocks you want to achieve. At milestone points you can assess, track and measure how you’re progressing against your goals.

Here’s how your project should look with these sections setup:

Populate your goals

Now it’s time to get into the heavy lifting of your project and start populating your goals. Importantly using many popular methods your goals should be achievable and measurable. Now, you should also be looking to stretch yourself. A goal should be something you can measure.

Here are some examples:

  • Undertake and complete 1 professional development course
  • Pay $1,000 off my credit card
  • Save $5,000 for a family holiday
  • Onboard 10 new clients
  • Reduce operating expenses by 10%
  • Implement a system to onboard new employees 3 days quicker

Think about your goals and start populating them in the appropriate sections. Remember, it should be realistic that you can achieve your goal within the defined time period. If you start using Asana extensively I’ll show you how your daily productivity and workflow should contribute to the achievement of your goals.

Here’s how your project should start to look with your goals populated.

Assign and set dates

Next you want to assign the achievement of those goals to yourself (normally) and set dates that you want those goals to be achieved by. When we get into ongoing goal management I’ll show you how to identify upcoming goals and help with some ways you can stay on track to achieve them.

Bulk assign goal tasks to yourself by following these steps:

  • Select all tasks
  • Click the … dots on the floating toolbar
  • Click “Assign” and set them to yourself

Next go through each goal individually and set an applicable date. This date should be for when you expect or want to achieve the desired goals.

Here is how your project should look with sections established, goals setup, goals assigned and dates established. At this point I’m going to add a couple of features using the premium and business version of Asana that can help keep goal tracking on track and simplified. If you want to upgrade to Asana premium click here to get started.

Create custom fields

I want to create two custom fields in my project that allows me to visually see how my goals are tracking and what they relate to. It can also help with sorting, viewing and reporting. Let’s explore the two custom fields I’m creating:

Goal Status
Fields > In Progress, Achieved, Missed

This custom field will let you track where your current goals are at and can also be used in the calendar view (more on this shortly).

Team (or you could call it Project)
Fields > Aligned to the different teams or projects in Asana

With this custom field we want to align each goal with a team or project we have setup in Asana. From a high level perspective it’s easy to see where your focus or priorities should lie during different stages of your goal management. I’ll explain this more below.

Here’s how your project should look now with your custom fields established inside your project.

Running automated rules

Using those custom fields we can now run some simple automated rules to make the management of our goals easier and to track ones we are achieving and ones we aren’t. This can give you the ability to make decisions on how to pivot your work or personal life towards the achievement of goals you want to hit.

We are going to extend our sections and include two sections titled “Achieved” and “Missed”.

Go to the top toolbar and change the view to “All Tasks” so we can capture goals that are both complete and incomplete.
We want to establish a rule that when the custom field “Goal Status” is updated to “Achieved” we move it to the achieved section. We also want to do the same for when a goal is “missed”. When the custom field is updated to this it is moved to the “Missed” section.
We also want to automatically complete a goal when the custom field is marked as “Achieved”
Pretty cool hey! This is the real power of starting to use the premium and business versions of Asana.

Here is how the rules should look when setup and what your new project should start to look like.

Choose your view/s

There are multiple ways you can view your goals project in Asana and it really depends on your personal preference. Each has its advantages and disadvantages and there are reasons why you might use a specific view over another.

List view
The list view is the default in Asana and shows sections and tasks in a standard list style format. Similar to a checklist it is an easy way to visualise your goals in a spreadsheet style layout. List view is my favourite, however it depends on the project as to what works best. Here’s a recap of the list view.

Board view
The board view segments your sections into columns and is great if you want to drag and drop goals into new areas and visually gives you a great snapshot of where your goals are sitting. I use the board view when I need to update the movement of tasks regularly between sections. Here’s how the board view looks for your goals project.

Calendar view
Calendar view is great for goals, especially when you’re using custom fields (and you know what the colours mean). In this example you can see that I can visualise for the month what goals are upcoming and their status. Custom fields become powerful when utilising this view. Here’s how the calendar view looks for this project.

Tip: Click the … dots at the top right of your favourite view and save it as the default. Every time you go to this project it will be the default one. You can still easily switch between views.

Ongoing goal management

Here are some simple ways to make sure you start tracking, measuring & hitting those goals.

Establish goal tasks in your project as follows:

  • Create a new section called “Goal Tasks”
  • Establish tasks at your goal end date periods e.g. 30 days, 90 days, 180 days and 365 days to prompt you to review and update your goals
  • Create repeating dates for your tasks so when you complete them they automatically update to e.g. 30 days time

Alignment to teams & projects

You can easily align your goals to projects and teams. A simple way to do this to ensure you are always working on your big rocks that are driving you towards your goals is to create a “Goals” component of an existing project that you’re working on. Way back in the custom fields section we used a field to align our goal to a project or team. Follow these steps to ensure your goals are always front and centre while you focus on productive work in Asana:

  • Find an existing project that is driving one of your goals
  • Go to your goal and click on it and add it to your project that will drive it
  • Go to your project and move this goal to the top of your project and create a section “Achieve & Hit”
  • Now when working in this project you can see goal/s that you are working towards and the project that is contributing to you achieving it.

Goals will drive productivity

Hopefully this has given you the tools you need to now go ahead and build your goals project in Asana. If you’re like me you might have a personal goals project and a business goals project. Remember, writing down your goals is only step 1. Having a system that you can use to track, measure and assess them is great. If you can link those goals to your daily work and productivity the results will be amazing.