The Ultimate Guide to Asana

I've talked about Asana a lot in the past. I've even flown to Houston to do a presentation on it. However, I still feel like I could write a better post for you all. Now ConradPRO has allowed me the platform to do just that! I want to cover Asana in a way that most people haven't yet.

Asana themselves have a FANTASTIC help center with articles on how to do practically anything you want. They show you how to use all their features and tools. I don't need to train you on that - but I do want to give you more solid ideas on how to use Asana for your business. This tool is a serious game changer and I use it as my business hub. So today I'll be walking you through some quick basics and teach you how to use Asana as a business hub.

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THE BASICS

Why Asana

Email overloads have the potential of reaching epidemic levels. We have seen companies being bogged down by emails and our dislike of emails is further fueled by the constant flow of new email apps for personal use. Fortunately, a solution is available!

As other companies offer creative communication tools, Asana, a global brand in workflow management and organization, took a broader approach in dealing with these email crisis. By focusing on centralized communication and other project management services in their web-based application. Without using email, Asana has made it possible to work productively and effectively with other people remotely.

Asana is packaged neatly in a cleanly formatted user interface. It is a powerful tool with time-saving usability, user tips, and tricks. For team members of 15 or less, Asana is free and for larger groups, there is a monthly subscription. Depending on your team size, this fee can be shared equally which is reasonable compared to other competitors.

Features & Pricing

One of the reasons I love Asana is because it's free up to 15 team members (team members are people who work in your company and have a company email address!) This works great if you want to use Asana for personal projects or working one-on-one with clients. I keep my account free by deleting old projects and removing team members with people I stopped working with.

There is a premium Asana, the price for this varies based on how many team members you have. Premium accounts allow you to build multiple teams, change the team settings, see an upgraded dashboard style, and invite more guest users. There's a lot of options for large companies, so if you're interested – I highly recommend checking out THIS page.

Apps

One reason I choose to use Asana and not another project management system was that I could access my projects from anywhere for free. The phone app is something I use daily and it's extremely helpful to have on the go. They also have android, iPad, and desktop versions that make it easy to sync with your team when you’re away from the office.

Integration

Another reason Asana stands out from similar websites is the ability to integrate Asana with other tools.

Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box all connect with Asana so you can seamlessly add files from those accounts and share them within a project or task. Wufoo can connect with Asana as well allowing you to create custom forms and have that information fed directly into a project.

Instagantt also connects with Asana allowing you visually plan your projects and schedule tasks. Hundreds of other apps can be connected by using Zapier (very similar to IFTTT).

Basic Tools

Search

 If you use Asana for as many projects as I do, you will love the search option. You can search for projects, tasks, comments, attachments and tags within an entire organization, workspace or project.

Attachments

Attachments are great for sharing documents, images and other files with your team members. Your team can open and download the files from within the task or project. You will also be able to see all the files in a project by viewing the attachments tab.

Tasks

Tasks are the actual items or the to-do list within a project. Tasks can be added quickly via email or Evernote, and have more details added to them from within Asana. You can add sub-tasks, comments, and add attachments to tasks. You can also assign various tasks to your team members.

Calendars

Just like the attachments tab, there is also a calendar tab, where you can get a big picture of your project timeline. You can see due dates, who the projects and tasks are assigned to, and what needs to be completed before the due date.

Setting Up Your Account

First thing you’ll want to do after making your Asana account is set up your profile:

(Click on upper right­hand corner, at the bottom choose "My Profile Settings")

  • Profile (Change your name, photo, role, department, about me bio and vacation)
  • To Email (Update your email notification settings)
  • From Email (Create tasks, conversations and edit the settings for email creation)
  • Account (Change your password or deactivate your account)
  • Display (Add numbered rows, enable compact mode/celebrations and change your background)
  • Apps (See your Authorized Applications and API Key)
  • Hacks (Play with Asanas experimental features)

How to use Asana

Workspaces / Organizations

When you first sign up, Asana will create your first workspace or organization for you. An organization is the highest level in Asana. This is automatically created when you signup with a company email address (I used hello@noraconrad.com - so my organization is Nora Conrad).

If you don't have a company email, a WORKSPACE will be created. A workspace is essentially the same as an organization but projects and tasks cannot be moved around the same as in an organization.

It is possible to have both an organization and workspace. When you register with a company email you can create a personal workspace, this way your personal projects are separate from work, but you don't have two separate Asana accounts.

For the smaller teams of less than 15 members, one workspace is most likely what you’ll require, but there is still the option of creating new workspaces to suit your needs. You can even share workspaces with other teams.

Teams

These are essentially the people you will work with, assign tasks, communicate with and give access to specific information. As you shift from email to the Asana app, plan effectively your team as well as edit what each member sees, how much they can do within a project and what organization or workspaces they belong to. Proper team segmentation serves as a tool to reduce the workload of emails due.

Projects

Projects are the main place you'll be working in Asana. Personally, I create projects for EVERYTHING! New client work, website changes, webinar planning, event planning in my personal life, everything. You can create as many projects as you need and color-code, organize and move them as needed.

Projects can be printed, shared and deleted at any time. You can have projects within any workspace or organization. You can also duplicate a project and use it as a template. I love this feature! I created a project for my Squarespace migration package, when I have a client needing that service, I can duplicate the project, adjust any tasks that may vary and have it ready in a few minutes!

Tasks

Tasks are the individual to-do lines within a project. I love these because they force you to make a plan and turn it into actionable steps. I have a task for every single thing that needs to be completed so I don't miss any steps.

Tasks can be expanded to enter a description, subtasks, attachments, and tags. You can also add sub-tasks to subtasks and insert as many details as you need.

Sections and Prioritization Creating

You can use these sections to help organize and prioritize your tasks:

Mark the tasks that must get done today as “Today,” using the keyboard shortcut Tab+Y, and the remainder as “Upcoming” (Tab+U) or “Later” (Tab+L), or by dragging the task to the appropriate section.

  • ­Place tasks you’re working on today in the Today section
  • Place tasks you’re working on this week in the Upcoming section
  • Place tasks you’re working on next week or later in the Later section

Tasks from Email

Forward emails you want to change into a task to x@mail.asana.co

The new tasks appear in the My Tasks list. Once the e­mail (now turned into a task) is in your Asana, you can rename it, add it to project(s), and assign deadlines. The subject of the email will become the task name in Asana.

Tasks on the Go

As you read emails, discover things on the internet, or think of new tasks, add them to your task list. Use Asanas email forwarding, Chrome extension, and Quick Add features to add everything you are working on to Asana. Once everything you need to do and remember is in Asana, you can prioritize your tasks and get to work.

Comments

Comments can be added by any team member invited to a project. The idea of comments is to replace emails, thus keeping all ideas and conversations in one, easily accessible place.

A Tour of Asana

Left Sidebar

Favorites

You can right click on any Asana project and add it to your favorites list. This is helpful if you have lots of projects to sift through, but only need a few at a time - or maybe you want shortcuts to the projects you reference most often. Either way, favoriting a project will add it to the top of your sidebar,

Teams

Use the sidebar to create a new team or view the teams you are already a part of. Teams hold different members and projects based on how you want to set everything up.

Projects

Projects can be used for events, goals or meetings. A project is essentially a list of tasks relating to one end goal. You can color code, share, delete, and print projects.

My Tasks

List

Here you’ll see a full list of any tasks assigned to you. I recommend choosing the view: Tasks by Due Date in the upper right corner to get a clear look at your upcoming projects. This will also separate your list into Today, Tomorrow, and Later sections.

Calendar

The calendar tab is where you can get a big picture of your project timeline. You can see due dates, who the projects and tasks are assigned to, and what needs to be completed before the due date.

Files

Attachments are great for sharing documents, images, and other files with your team members. Your team can open and download the files from within the task or project. You will also be able to see all the files in a project by viewing the attachments tab.

My Inbox

Your inbox lets you know when you get new comments, tasks assigned to you by someone or updates on notifications and deadlines. You can archive your messages once you’ve read them, and then access them later on if needed.

Dashboard

If you want a visual idea of how your projects are going, the dashboard allows you to see graphs of how many tasks were completed. This is a great view for time-sensitive projects.

Quick Add (+)

Tasks, Conversations, Projects, and inviting new team members is quick and easy with this button. You can add content from any place in your asana projects without breaking your workflow. The “quick add” project option also allows you to choose from some preset Asana templates.

Search Bar

You can search for projects, tasks, comments, attachments, and tags within an entire organization, workspace or project. When you click on the search bar, there's a drop-down menu that allows you to find exactly what you need.

Help Menu

If you ever have questions, need a guide or have to contact the Asana support team, just click on that question mark and choose your menu. Asana has some amazing and in depth guides for everything you need. Just search!

Settings

By clicking on your icon or workspace name, you’ll be able to see the settings. Here you can switch between workspaces/organizations, leave an organization, add a team to your current workspace, edit your profile or log out.

Client Work

Asana is perfect for working with clients because it takes away the pain of email chains and combines many workflows into one streamlined process. I can easily share my graphics, contracts, and notes with clients and they can share their feedback or questions with me.

Asana also has a great support team and easy to use interface that makes me confident my clients will easily be able to work in Asana without too much knowledge of it. Asana also has useful guides for anyone who needs help starting out.

Template Building

Everything I do relating to my business has a process, whether it's writing a blog post, working with clients or creating other content. Asana projects can easily be duplicated so that I only have to plan my process one time and re-use that project again and again. This saves me time and stress because when I have a project to work on, I don't waste time planning all the steps to complete it.

This can be extremely helpful for those of you who offer services, you can make your process and then copy that every time you work with a new client.

Event Planning

I'm getting married soon, and I've been using Asana to help me track and plan everything that needs to be done! I save all the wedding documents in the project, I can assign tasks to my parents, fiancee or bridesmaids, and I can get a calendar view of what needs to be done.

This type of planning would work for any event, a corporate meeting, traveling, parties or conferences. The iPhone and Android app also make event planning quick while you're on the go.

Personal Life

I use Asana primarily for my business, but the tasks are also perfect for other things like grocery shopping lists, homework planning, cleaning schedules or keeping track of your fitness goals and workouts.

One of the newest things I've been using Asana for is to track and plan my workouts. I created a task for each day in the gym and added my workout as sub-tasks. In the gym, I can check off the workouts as I go from my phone, and I can keep a log of how I did in the comments or in Evernote.

Workflows

How to create workflows in asana

When using Asana these outlined steps will guide you on how to create your workflow.
Create a New Project. In your Dashboard, just click on the plus button at page’s top and click on “Project”. Give it a name, one that will be easier to find.

The next step is to add Sections and the Tasks. Sections are useful when there is a need for organizing the many tasks a workflow may have. Hover your icon over the “Add Task’ button to enable the “Add Section” display button. Then map out your sections and add subsequent tasks and subtasks into it.

These two steps constitute the overall template of the workflow. The next step is to add the workflow template to your favorite list, by just clicking on the star icon next to the project name.

Now you can use your workflow template. You can copy it for use on multiple occasions, in the case of having multiple projects running at once. You can even format your workflows for easier identification by simply clicking on the star next to the workflow name and selecting “Highlight Color.”

Team Training

How to work with your team in asana

Managing your team in Asana requires communication. Communication is made easy when Asana is used with a team and it is basically a time saver. Although emails may pop in from time to time as a necessary evil, but most of the work you will do can involve the use of Asana. Updates and in-app sharing are all part of Asana communication experience.

Below are the core management aspects of Asana.

Team Interaction

Asana supports daily inter-project communication via the use of notes, comments, and assignments. The information exchange is transparent to the entire team. This lessens the need for emails and unnecessary meetings.

Asana Inbox

The Asana Inbox enables updates to stream into your main view, for quick and easy browsing. If you are still hooked onto your email (sadly) you can have asana inbox alerts forwarded into your email account by means of integration.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Like any other app, Asana has the ability to be used with keyboard shortcuts. This improves your personal experience and also makes it easier to work with. Users of Asana should devote a few hours daily to familiarize themselves with the keyboard shortcuts. Most of them are intuitive and knowing them reduces updating your projects and interaction time.

Task management

Task management with Asana is easier, clear and accountable. All of the upcoming tasks to be worked on are logged here. Through here, Asana allows regular collaboration with clients as well, ensuring the right work is being prioritized:

  1. Current Tasks: those currently being worked on.
  2. Up Next Tasks: the fully documented and estimated, ready to be moved into “Current tasks”
  3. Later Tasks: those recently identified and require expansion and editing before moving into ‘To Finalize”
  4. To Finalize: these are tasks agreed upon to be worked soon. They need to be fully documented before being put into “Up Next”.

Project Management

Projects are run in an agile fashion, inclusive of both long term and short term ones.

  • Project Status updates
  • Bug tracking
  • Custom reporting

The real power of Asana is realized when all these aspects are combined, creating an asynchronous stream of collaboration among clients and team members.

In this fast moving word, it is crucial to stay at the top of your game, having your processes managed by Asana. Asana has enabled frequent project revision, the creation of new projects or even terminating one is easy as well. Asana ensures we are flexible

Nora Conrad