In early 2017 I found Asana, recommended to me by a colleague during a discussion about my going freelance. My first thought was, ’Do I really need this?’ After all I had been coping fine with my own little system for years.
Looking at the website I found it was free to sign up and so I tried it.
It felt like a very simple interface to get used to, so I stayed a while and played around to see what I could use it for.
In less than a week I ditched my older computer and diary system and switched over to Asana!
What is Asana?
Asana is an online business planner that helps you manage workflow and task lists for projects and the day to day.
You can use it as a sole trader, or as a business with employees.
Their basic package is free to use, which is great for smaller businesses and then fees kicks in at what feels like a very reasonable rate per user after that.
Is Asana right for me?
As a freelancer and business coach I can create project boards for specific work projects and set tasks within it, highlighting the project with a colour so that on my daily feed I can see what projects I’m working on tasks for at a glance.
I can also set reoccurring tasks, which is great for remembering to update my social media automations with certain types of content, or for block of time for my accounting.
If I had employees then I can create accounts for them in which I can delegate, or work with them on specific project tasks, helping them to time block their days too. They can further this by setting up their own workflow diary, so together you can delegate things at the right time to the available person.
There’s an in-app communication system that would allow me to discuss projects with my employees, and handle documents even if we work remotely from each other. So it could be great for working with Virtual Assistants, especially as there are privacy settings so not all of your tasks and projects can be seen by your all of employees (unless you set them to be).
You can also use Asana on your smart devices, so it becomes a portable platform, which was lacking in my earlier system and although the app versions are limited in their capability it’s a great way to work away from the office and still feel productive.
9 reasons why Asana is great for productivity
- Motivation – Being able to tick off tasks and see my day free up as I go has been very freeing for me, in a way that has felt very motivating. I feel much for keen to get on with the day, because I know I’m organised and prepared.
- Time blocking made simple – at the beginning of the week I look at my calendar and I can see clearly what each day is shaping up to be. If for any reason I feel like something is too much, or needs to be shifted around I simply pick up the task and move it to a more relevant day. This gives me the opportunity to create a daily focus, or group of focuses in a time block. I think this act alone has allowed me to feel more productive in my days.
- Task focus – It’s incredibly important to be focused on tasks as they happen and personally I have a tendency to mentally wander if I’m not kept on an organised path for the day. By breaking down projects into tasks I can tackle individually it has meant that I haven’t found myself thinking about the next step. Instead I remain much more focused knowing that the new task has already been allocated its own time frame.
- Target & deadline focus – If I have a new project with a specific deadline, like a new product to release, or a freelance blog to write I set up an individual project board. On that board I set up each individual task I need to complete in order to get the project finished. I then go back and set mini deadlines for each task and the project as a whole. This means that with little effort the tasks are placed on the relevant day for me to complete. Seeing the tasks on my calendar means that I work on them without feeling the sense of overwhelm of the overall project, but with the added knowledge that I am chipping away at the bigger picture.
- Projects are more detailed – In my old system I used to paraphrase project tasks and in doing so it was implied that certain more obvious tasks went unwritten and were assumed. Very occasionally what I assumed to be a second-nature action in a line of tasks was sometimes forgotten in the rush to get things done, or as other aspects of my business got busy. With this new system I list everything, even what feels mundane to mention, like update my social media automation, or do my banking, etc. So far I feel like I have forgotten far less and I am sure it would be much easier to delegate projects to employees, or colleagues this way.
- Piece of mind – Speaking of employees and colleges I feel like using a system like this would be a great way to manage projects without seeming to be overbearing, because I can see at a glance the project statistics and who is yet to work on what. I’m wondering if it would also feel more motivational to the team as a whole.
- Flexibility – The key to any great planning system is flexibility and so the ability to be able to move tasks around is a great way to change focus quickly if new projects come in, or a deadline is changed.
- Overwhelm banished – I can honestly say that I have felt far less overwhelmed looking at my weekly and monthly calendar. Yes it is crammed with tasks, but I feel like I am much more able to work on a lot more projects at once, than I ever did before.
- Goals – Using a system like this you can work on other aspects of moving your business forward, because you can use a project template to work on a business goal. You simply break your goal down into tasks and set due dates for each. Before you know it you have set aside time to start working on some pretty important business goals!
Looking for another planning system and need help where to start?
I recommend looking for something that is easy to use and has a clean interface. It also needs to help you create work lists that you can view in a number of ways;
- By time
- By project
- By staff member
Viewing the same information in different ways can help you ascertain the state of your workload and can have a big impact on how productive your time is.
I am not an employee of Asana, nor was I paid for my opinions on their product.