If you’ve ever worked on a project with a tight deadline and a ton of moving parts, then you know how easily (and suddenly) things can veer off course. Dynamic projects require a clear understanding of the various pieces, how they fit together, and how they relate to time. Asana Timeline gives you exactly that.
Read on to learn:
- How to use Asana Timeline
- The ways it’s different than other project views in Asana
- How to time block Asana tasks on Google Calendar — without ever leaving Asana
What is Asana Timeline?
As you may know, Asana is a work management platform, designed to help teams manage complex projects easily. It gives you everything that a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel can’t — flexibility, visibility, ease of use (just to name a few). Timeline view is one of several project views in Asana, alongside List view, Calendar view, Board view, and more.
- Timeline view lets you view your work on a Gantt-style chart.
- It’s valuable for complex initiatives, especially when dependencies are involved.
- It’s beneficial all throughout the project lifecycle, from creating the project plan to executing it.
- It’s ideal for projects with clear end dates, rather than work that’s ongoing.
Why should you use Asana Timeline?
List view and Board view are the two most popular ways to organize work in Asana. Afterall, who doesn’t love the satisfaction of a neatly organized list or Kanban board? That said, Timeline view can be super effective for the following benefits:
- Get a holistic view of your project from start to finish, and understand the amount of time to dedicate to each task or phase.
- Identify roadblocks ahead of time, so you can better manage the project’s workflow.
- Drag and drop tasks across the timeline to update the project schedule easily and in real-time.
Image source: Asana
How to get started with Timeline view
You can view any project in Timeline view, as long as you have a premium or above plan with Asana. Just click on your project in the sidebar, then select the Timeline tab in the header.
Alternatively, you can create a new project from scratch or get a head start with one of these Asana templates:
- Project schedule
- Event planning
- Marketing campaign management
- Business plan for nonprofits
- For more templates, click here
Pro tip: Portfolios (available with the Business plan) allow you to organize multiple projects in one place. You can view all your projects in one portfolio in Timeline view to get a holistic view of all your initiatives.
Add tasks and subtasks
When you switch to Timeline view, you’ll then see all of your scheduled tasks plotted onto a Gantt-style chart. For any unscheduled tasks (i.e. tasks without due dates), you can access them by clicking Unscheduled in the top-right corner. From there, you can easily schedule those tasks by dragging them onto your timeline.
To create a new task, simply click on your timeline on the date you want to schedule your task, then type in the name of your task. From there, you can click on the task to view, add, or edit any of its details — including assignee, dates, subtasks, and more.
Set up your dependencies
In project management, dependencies mean that certain tasks rely on the completion of other tasks before they can be started or finished. It describes the type of relationship between two tasks. For example, if Stella can’t start on Task B until Mia’s done with Task A, that’s called a dependency.
One of the biggest advantages of Timeline view is that it allows you to easily visualize those task dependencies. Dependencies will appear on your timeline as a line connecting the two tasks. You can create a dependency in Asana in just a few simple steps:
- In Timeline view, hover over the dependent task
- Click the connector icon, then drag it to the task it’s dependent on
You’re all set! Now that you’ve marked the dependency in your project timeline, a few things can happen:
- When the first task is completed, the assignee of the second task will receive a notification in their inbox saying that they can begin their task
- If the first task’s due date shifts or is removed, the assignee of the second task will also receive a notification
… which leads us to the next topic.
Highlight the critical path
In Asana, the critical path represents the longest sequence of task dependencies in a given project. For example, let’s say your team is working on a marketing campaign for a new product launch. The project includes the following sequences of dependent tasks:
- Shoot and edit product photography > Create social media posts
- Develop campaign messaging > Write copy for website > Design website
Since the second sequence involves more dependent tasks than the first sequence, we define it as the project’s critical path. Identifying the critical path is important because it has the greatest impact on the project’s timeline. It helps managers and team members recognize potential roadblocks and determine how to best support project progress.
In Asana Timeline view, you can highlight the critical path by clicking on the icon with three dots, then toggling on Highlight critical path. The critical path will then appear yellow on your timeline.
Milestones act as markers along your project's journey, helping team members track progress, stay on course, and celebrate their achievements. Milestones are also a great way to keep stakeholders informed of project progress, without getting into the granular day-to-day details.
Pro tip: Link project goals to milestones if you have a Business or Enterprise plan with Asana.
A milestone can represent a task that’s critical to the success of a project, or it can represent a phase in the project’s lifecycle.
Here’s how to create a milestone in Asana:
- You can turn any task in Asana into a milestone by right-clicking it, then selecting Mark as milestone from the drop-down menu.
- As we mentioned above, a milestone doesn’t necessarily have to be a task. In that case, you can also create a milestone by clicking on + Add new > Add milestone.
Milestones appear in Asana as a green vertical line.
Customizing your view
In Asana Timeline, there are a few ways you can adjust your view.
- Zoom in or out. You can view by hour, year, or somewhere in-between.
- Set your colors. You can choose from the Asana Default setting, or you can set the color based on your custom fields.
- Sort your timeline by start date, due date, or assignee.
- View all tasks, or filter by incomplete or completed tasks.
To save your view, click Save options. That makes it so that when you can navigate away from Timeline view and then return, your timeline retains all your favorite settings.
Use Clockwise for automatic time blocking
If you couldn’t tell by now, we’re big fans of Asana. So much so that, not only is it our project management tool of choice here at Clockwise, but we also created an integration with it. And, it’s about to be your new favorite tool.
With the Clockwise integration for Asana, Clockwise helps you make time for specific tasks, by letting you schedule tasks on your calendar directly from Asana inside your Focus Time. What’s more, Clockwise can sync with Slack to mute your notifications and change your Slack status whenever you’re busy with those tasks.
Clockwise is the perfect complement to Asana Timeline; Timeline gives you a bird’s eye view of your project roadmap, while Clockwise translates it into day-to-day tasks and deliverables.
You can find Clockwise in Asana’s apps and integrations page, or click here.
Frequently asked questions
Does Asana have a Gantt chart?
Yes, Asana offers two versions of a Gantt chart: Timeline and Gantt. Both Timeline view and Gantt view are great options when you want a clear picture of how your project maps out over time. However, depending on your specific needs, one view may be more useful than the other. Click here to see how Asana explains the differences between Timeline view and Gantt view.
Is Timeline free in Asana?
Unfortunately, Timeline view isn’t available in the free version of Asana. To access Timeline (plus more advanced functionality), you’ll need a Premium, Business, or Enterprise account. Pricing for the Premium plan starts at $10.99 per user per month.
Seeing your project as a timeline is incredibly helpful for understanding how the pieces of your project fit together. Use it tandem with Clockwise to schedule Asana tasks directly on your calendar for a productivity boost.