6 tips for making time-saving Asana templates

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 Filed under:   Best practices, Management tips

One of the biggest time-saving features of Asana is creating and re-using templates. Templates are like master checklists that help you stay organized and avoid forgotten tasks “falling between the cracks.”

I first learned the power of Asana templates when I was doing event planning. An event that would take days to plan previously would take less than 30 minutes by simply tweaking a pre-existing template we had created in Asana. Over 150 tasks were created and assigned in about 10 seconds.

If you want to improve your systems, delegate more easily, establish accountability, and allow more time and brain power for creativity, you need to use templates.

We’ve consulted many types of organizations to assist in developing templates, from universities to CPAs to marketing agencies. Here’s six questions to ask as you’re building templates to create effective, time-saving templates.

Asana Template Example
Building project templates in Asana, like the above example for onboarding new employees, will save your organization hours of time.

1. Are we following the same conventions for all templates?

Project templates are just like any other projects except they are built to be duplicated in the future. So we want to make it easy to find the templates as well as to avoid accidentally editing or completing tasks.

We suggest adding “TEMPLATE:” as a prefix for any project templates, as well color-coding all templates the same. We use the same shade of pink for all our templates. Depending on a few factors like the size of your team(s), you might also consider storing your templates in a team specifically for templates.

Templates team
We use the same prefix and color-coding for all our templates.

2. Are the task names action-oriented?

This is true of most tasks, not just templates, but since anything in a template is going to be copied over and over, you really want to make sure the names are as clear as possible.

Use action verbs to start tasks (i.e. create, buy, design, etc.) and consider adding some context of the project as well. So if the task is “Send brochure,” consider naming it “Send brochure for annual conference” for when people can’t see all the information at once (like on mobile devices).

3. What info should go in the description?

Don’t assume the person assigned the task knows the directions and guidelines. What if that person needs to reassign it in the future? What if a new hire takes over this task?

Add links to examples or links to more information. Attach a file or link to a relevant folder in your cloud storage application if relevant. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for the assignee to get started.

4. Is there one person who will be assigned this task 90% of the time?

Assign someone to each task if it is very likely he or she will be the one to do it. This saves you from having to assign that task every time the project template is duplicated.

Don’t get caught up thinking about the very rare cases where someone else might need to do it. It can be reassigned quickly later on if necessary. The goal is to make it as easy as possible to get started when the template is copied.

The person who is assigned a task in a project template needs to understand they should not complete that task ever. In My Tasks, just send it to “Later” and never worry about it again.

5. Who should be the follower(s) on each task?

We’ve previously covered who to add as a follower in Asana, which to summarize includes:

  • Supervisor(s) of task
  • Team members who are participating in task
  • Team members who might want to participate in a discussion related to task
  • Team members who need to be notified upon task completion

6. What tasks are dependent on other tasks?

Establish dependencies in your templates so that they copy over to new projects. Setting up dependencies is time consuming enough that it isn’t used often in day-to-day use of Asana, but it’s worth it with project templates. This is because not only will the template be used over and over, but it’s more helpful since the project is typically planned from beginning to completion in the template.

For example, if you have a task named “Approve brochure for annual conference,” make sure it is set up to be dependent on “Design brochure for annual conference.” That way the person assigned to the approval knows she can’t start her task until the brochure has been designed first.

So there you have it! What are some examples of workflows that would save hours for your organization if you could create and assign dozens of tasks in a few seconds?

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