Introducing Task StatusesThe Flow TeamLast Updated: March 15, 2021
The end goal of most tasks is the same: completion. But anyone who has ever been assigned or delegated a task knows that it’s not always so simple. Work starts and stops as questions and issues arise, or focus changes. It’s a natural part of project management and something that every team learns to deal with. This is to say that the lifecycle of a task isn’t as straightforward as most project management tools, including Flow, would have you believe.
Our team has always managed to find ways to negotiate the grey areas. If a task was blocked, we looped in the person who could help unblock it. If a task was no longer needed, we completed or deleted it, so it wouldn’t take up space in the project. But in the last year, as our projects increased in complexity, it became harder to tell the difference between tasks that hadn’t started, ones that were in progress, and those that had stalled. Everything was either incomplete or completed, with no nuance in between.
So, we started talking about what we could do to make it clearer, at a glance, what state a task was in, and which ones were common to most workflows. We knew that we weren’t alone in this particular struggle and figured there was no better time to address it than now. We’re excited to officially introduce Task Statuses: a way to more accurately reflect what state your task is in from moment to moment.
We started with the “Cancelled” status. We wanted a simple way to communicate that a task was no longer actionable without having to complete or delete it. Completion, to us, suggested that all the necessary work had been wrapped up, while a deleted task simply wiped that work from the record. A cancelled task, conversely, could show that the work had been intentionally pulled from the project. Now, there’s no more confusing an abandoned task with completed work, or losing access to the useful context that led to cancelling it in the first place.
Next came “Blocked”. We needed a status to show that a task couldn’t progress for some reason. If you know when a teammate is blocked, you can better support them by either helping to address it, or plan strategically around it. Statuses shouldn’t just function as static designations—they should help communicate where attention is needed.
Finally, we wanted to be able to easily distinguish between tasks that are actively being worked on and ones that aren’t. Adding an In Progress status was a simple solution to this problem. A visual distinction between To Do and In Progress tasks means fewer manual updates to track when and if work has begun. This distinction also provides greater insight into how long certain tasks take to complete. You can see how much time has elapsed between when you mark a task In Progress and when you mark it as Completed, and more accurately gauge how long similar tasks will take to complete in the future.
In the end, we landed on 5 statuses to better define work: To Do, In Progress, Blocked, Cancelled and Completed, which are now available on Flow’s Solo, Plus, and Pro plans. Each state has a different checkbox to make it easy to see exactly what state each task, and each project, is in. It’s also useful to visually remind yourself the status of your own tasks so you can more accurately set your priorities. You can choose which states are important for you to see. If you always want to see To Do, In Progress, and Blocked tasks, but not Cancelled and Completed, you can simply toggle them off in the Show menu.
This new range of states allow users to communicate more about their tasks in fewer words. It’s a bold new feature and huge step forward for Flow, and we can’t wait for you to put them to use.
A lot of what we build starts as a simple request from Flow users, so if you have a feature you’d love to see us build next, head over to our feedback board to share it. We’re particularly interested in requests for our Public API these days, so if you currently use it (or want to start) let us know how we can make that experience even better.
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