Walking the email bridge
March 29th, 2013
Editor’s note: We’ve made some updates since this post was published. You can now use Asana for team communication.
It’s hard to imagine that in another 10 years, today’s incarnation of email will still be the de-facto communication tool we use to organize ourselves, to manage our work and to collaborate with our teams.
But, despite our belief that workplace communications tools must and will evolve, we understand that old-school email will not vanish immediately, or even particularly soon.
This is why we built the email bridge.
What is the email bridge in Asana?
The email bridge is the system we built to connect message-centric email to task-centric Asana. It lets you and your team do two main things.
- Send emails to Asana to turn them into tasks.
- Reply to task emails from Asana to turn them into comments on the original task.
Turning emails into tasks
To send messages and turn them into tasks, you’ll need to choose the Asana Workspace the emails you send to Asana should go to. This can be done in three steps:
- Go into your Account Settings by clicking your name in the lower left corner of Asana’s interface.
- Select the “Email Dropbox” tab
- Choose the Workspace you’d like to use.
Your Email Dropbox can now receive emails. The email bridge will turn them into tasks with these conventions:
- Email subject —> Task name
- Email body —> Task notes
- Email attachments —> Task attachments
- People in the CC field —> Task Followers
Once you’ve created an Email Dropbox with the above steps, there are three main ways to use it:
Email tasks to your personal task list. Using the email address associated with your main Asana Workspace, simply send (or forward) an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This will create a new task in your “My Tasks” list. If this is something you will do frequently, you should add email@example.com to your address book.
Email tasks straight to a project. To do this, you’ll need the Project ID, which can be found in the URL of the project. The Project ID is the first string of numbers in the URL when you’ve selected a project:
Once you’ve got this number, you can send emails to at the address x+PROJECTID@mail.asana.com. If you’d like to automatically assign the task to someone on your team, include them in the “To” field of the email.
Auto-forward emails to a project. If you have an email address like “firstname.lastname@example.org” or “bugs@yourcompany” and you’d like to automatically turn emails to that address into tasks, you can set up auto-forwarding.
- First, add the forwarding email address (e.g. jobs@yourcompany) to your Workspace as a Workspace member.
- Set up auto-forwarding in your email service to send emails to Asana.
- Your email service will send a confirmation link to Asana. Go to the task created by the bridge and click that link.
Turning email replies into comments
The email bridge also turns replies to emails from Asana into comments on tasks. If anyone on your team prefers to stay in email, this can be a great way to keep the conversation around your team’s tasks organized in Asana.
There are a couple of ways this works:
- Assign a task to a teammate. When your teammate receives the task notification email, he or she can simply reply to it. The email bridge will automatically turn that reply into a comment on the task.
- Comment on a task that has followers. The task’s followers will all receive an email with your comment. Any of them can reply to this message and the bridge will add their reply as a comment.
Mind the gap
Here at Asana, email represents a small fraction of our internal communication. Instead of sending email messages back and forth, we send tasks. Instead of creating multi-person email threads with CC, we simply add followers. And instead of spending hours each week staying on top of email, we rely on Asana’s Inbox to keep us connected and up to speed.
But for many teams, email remains a way of life. Asana’s email bridge is our way of acknowledging this fact, spanning the gap between messages and tasks and giving you and your teammates a way to incorporate Asana into your workflow while keeping a foot in email’s message-centric world.
Are you looking for a little inspiration? Learn how other teams use Asana to reduce emails.