It seems like every week there’s some new project management software introduced. Some of them are great and can really help you to get a handle on things, while others are distractions, complete with a cascade of tutorials for features you’ll likely never use. There are a couple I recommend that you should familiarize yourself with to stay on top of trends. Today we’ll focus on Asana which is experiencing rapidly growing adoption.
You may already be using Asana, or another work management platform like Monday or Taskworld. If you aren’t, chances are in the near future you will be. It’s important to establish best practices and stay abreast of industry trends that are shaping the way we do business. These tips and tricks may come in handy down the road, so feel free to pin this page for later.
Quit with the Notifications
Turn email notifications off. To drive adoption to the platform you need to force people to engage with it directly. Some things will likely get missed at first, but you’ll stay on track because you’ll be following up with people. This is a strategy that will pay dividends down the road. As your boss or team starts to regularly check in with Asana, they’ll input their updates into a central location.
This is great for especially for admins who need a better way to track, maintain, and engage directly with their boss on broad todos. Say for example you’re running the leadership offsite on behalf of your executive. There are a lot of moving parts: catering, venue, agenda, facilitators, pre-work, etc. Asana provides the place to have all of those tracked in a single well laid out location. Here, you have the freedom and flexibility to add people as necessary and assign tasks to them. If you want to get to this place you have to do the work above first.
Asana isn’t just great for complex teamwork, it can also assist in helping you manage your own personal todo list. We all have different strategies for our todo list. Some of them work great, and others don’t. If yours don’t and you need a flexible tool to fit your working style, this is a good choice. One of the features I use most with this are the shortcuts. You can quickly jump to “Today” (Tab+Y), “Upcoming” (Tab+U) and “Later” (Tab+L).
A Pro Tip for when you’re managing tasks is to start the task name with a verb: “Do”, “Decide”, “Consider”, “Review”, etc. This will help a lot if you’re like me and you love the art of timeboxing. You’ll be able to quickly view a task and gauge the amount of time you’ll need to do it or decide what you’re better positioned to do. For example, if you’re in transit, it might be best for you to review. But if you’re on the go or in between meetings, maybe making a decision is the best task to tick off.
Dive into Timeline
Many of us have a workload consumed with the little day to day details that help our organizations run smoothly. However, sometimes we’re called upon to oversee broad cross-team projects that require substantial coordination, time, and addition to detail. The Asana Timeline feature is a lot like the famous Gantt chart you might already be familiar with. Its foundational principle, “Working Backward”, helps you to visualize how all the moving parts need to come together in order to hit your timeline.
I use Timeline when I’m given an assignment like this, and in the Office of the CEO, it happens almost weekly. Projects like a Leadership Offsite or planning a Team Week have many moving parts. While tried and true checklists are great, they fall short of helping to create a visual strategy that can keep the team in sync and communicate adjustments when and where necessary.
Tasks on Repeat
Chances are you’re a part of or directly manage recurring tasks: follow up on quarterly financials, send birthday gift, draft agenda for bi-annual board meetings, etc. Asana makes it easy to input these tasks as recurring so you don’t need to remember them. I suggest you put these tasks in with a “Working Backward” approach. This means you put dates in for when you want to start preparing for these things in order to deliver on time, not the day they’re due.
This short guide to Asana is mostly for people already familiar with Asana. If you haven’t had a chance to engage with it or similar software I suggest you try out the FREE “Basic” plan that Asana offers. It’ll help get you up to speed on basic features and learn ways to optimize Asana for yourself.
The Basic plan includes some of the things mentioned here, enough that it will still be absolutely beneficial for you to go try it out. Who knows, if it starts working well you might be able to convince your team to try it out.
Other awesome FREE alternatives include; Trello, Notion, Hygger or Allthings.
Our scope of work is quite broad. We’re constantly asked to step into a new pair of office shoes and take the lead. I find that when I can employ software and tools to help manage the load I’m much better off.