What view should I use in Asana?
Want to know what view you should use in Asana? Follow these guidelines for best practice approaches when creating your next project.
Flexibility in views
Below I’ll explain some scenarios where I use each view and how I decide what view will suit my needs when creating and managing projects inside Asana.
No matter what type of view I end up with I follow this process…
If I can look at a task and think of it as an object e.g. a marketing brief, an e-commerce product, a piece of content etc then typically I would start with a board. I may even start with a list, create some sections and then convert it to a board view.
If you are new to Asana you could use sub-tasks and hence build boards for most projects, however you need to be careful nesting sub-tasks too deep and you can eliminate some useful features including workload and timeline when you heavily rely on sub-tasks.
If you have some understanding around the structure of your tasks it can make the process of creating projects with views allowing you to easily digest your workflows much easier. Here is what I do for each view…
Once I create a list view I break the stages of work into predefined sections. I build out these big blocks first. This enables me to easily switch between list and board while I’m in the early stages of the project creation. Some clients visually prefer boards and if a list project is structured correctly it can easily be used as a board by different members of the team. Not everyone needs to have the same view.
Tasks come next and the descriptive naming of tasks is useful at this early stage. If your workflow project is the delivery of a set of tasks to an end goal the list view makes sense as you may have 30-50 tasks in a waterfall list to achieve an outcome.
As you start to build task lists you can switch to timeline and start creating start/end dates and task dependencies to build accurate project timelines.
The board view should ideally be formed when you create tasks that are objects like we explained above. This isn’t the strict approach to using a board and some people like to use boards to visualise all the tasks they have to do to complete a project. I find that differentiating when I use a list in comparison to when I use a board gives structure to like projects that are created in Asana and results in templates that can be used organisation wide & are easier to manage.
I usually start a board by defining states that I want work to go through e.g. In, Working, Changes, Reviewed, Approved, Launched. I can then create my tasks or objects aligned to stages. At this point I can integrate custom fields where appropriate and start to create test tasks for moving through the board.
Boards are also great if you are a single person team or a smallish team. You could have clients as tasks in a project and use sub-tasks as a checklist style format for completion of tasks. This condenses down your need for lots and lots of projects. It’s an approach that may not scale so it’s always important to take that into account.
My best approach to deciding on using timeline is when you have a time critical project that fits in between distinct start and deadline dates. Starting with a kickoff and an end milestone can help you organically create a task timeline (if you aren’t using a template).
Once I have two predefined points i.e. start here and end here I can create my sections or blocks of work and start defining tasks to get to the end deliverable.
The beauty and flexibility of timeline is that you can easily create dependencies between tasks and then start to adjust due dates so you can get to an accurate delivery date. You might be pushing to hit a date sooner or you may have evidence to push back a date through collaboration with your team.
Once you’ve got a timeline view it’s super easy to switch to list or board view and back to timeline.
If you’re starting with a calendar view you likely want to be creating tasks as objects similar to the board style example I mentioned earlier as an easy way to get started with boards. Calendar view lets you build out due dates and task completion dates for specific tasks.
Calendar view is probably the last view I would start a project with unless it ties in specifically with a workflow being built. I’ll give an example below.
To give some context to recommendations on when you should use a specific view for a project here are some examples of when I would use them…
Testing a product for an e-commerce store
This is the perfect example of when a board could be used. If we run an e-commerce store that has hundreds of products it doesn’t make sense to create a project for every product we want to test. Using a set of boards in Asana for specific workflows would be a perfect solution and we treat our product as an object or “Task” in Asana.
A brief for a new marketing project might go into an Asana board to track it’s progress e.g. Brief In, Request Changes, In Progress, Awaiting Approval, Complete. This brief becomes an object and could initiate a marketing project that might be a list, timeline or board. This type of brief is the perfect example of when a board project makes sense to use.
New website build
Building a new website is the perfect example of when a list or timeline view would be the best approach. Create a set of tasks enables you to easily use timeline or even Portfolios in Asana for high level task tracking on a specific project.
A lead CRM could be created in a list style format to designate sections in your project for the status of a lead and you could then populate each task as a person. Using custom fields you can easily see statuses of your leads and dollar values aligned to amounts of revenue they could generate.
I find a content calendar to be the easiest way to use a calendar project. You may have content pieces that go through a creation process in a project and then move to the content calendar with a date. This easy reference project allows people to see when content is being distributed out to your audience.
The calendar view is also great as a project to book a variety of items in an organisation. The simplest example might be a meeting room that is shared. When someone creates a new meeting they can book a room and update the calendar in Asana. All team members can then easily book rooms without overlap. Custom fields and colours can be used on the calendar view to identify rooms and more.