This article is from a note I sent to my team about a new project that I am helping drive forward. Hopefully the post will give people that are considering Asana some insight on how to use the app despite the shortcomings I’ve noted in other articles. Asana isn’t completely unusable, I just wish they would respond just once with something other than “sorry you cannot do that and is not being considered for development at the moment”.
On to the “task creation and management” cheat-sheet for my team:
First step – CREATE A TASK
This gives you a place to log / attach stuff. If we are not trying to accomplish a goal (aka “a task”) in relation to what you are sharing then you need to ask if this truly warrants going in Asana.
There are about 20 ways to create a new task like this the 2 simple ways:
1) Team Discussions In Asana
BTW – this should be how we do ALL BASIC PROJECT COMMUNICATION versus sending email. It keeps the project stuff out of my inbox and in an organized/self-contained/searchable space we can all reference (Asana).
Click “Team Discussions” in the left sidebar just under the team name “Executive”:
Now that you are in there start typing your message.
Use the AT SIGN TRICK (@) to notify Ed that the message is for him. Whenever you type @Ed and tab-complete the entry it will put the message in Ed’s inbox on Asana as well as post it on the board for everyone to see.
As you enter the message use the at sign trick again to create a task. When you type @do this you will see a drop-down where it will say “New Task “do this”. Select New Task and fill out the pop up box with the task details.
Fill out as much of the dialog box as you can. The more you add the better IMO. Assign a person, assign a due date, attach to a project, attach any relevant files or screen shots, add a description.
When you are done you can go to that task and add your commentary to the task.
That is where Ed can paste his dialogue and where Vincent can add his notes.
Just remember to type @<name> when you are doing stuff like “@Lance – please check this out and comment”. That ensures it appears on my “Asana Radar” under tasks, inbox, etc.
Where To “Attach The Task”?
The big question is often “where the hell do I attach this”. The short answer: don’t worry about it. Make a best effort to put it somewhere sane.
Asana search is pretty good at finding stuff. To give Asana more hints attach tags when creating stuff such as tagging that message with “Mojo” (just click the sales tag icon).
If you put something in the “wrong place” it can easily be moved by clicking the right-side of any task on the “box handle” and dragging it somewhere.
– Move to different project: drag it to the project list on the left of the screen. It will go to the very top of the task list for that project.
– Move it into an existing task as a sub-task: click on the target task to open the right-side-screen (1), drag the task to be moved into the now-open details for the “parent task” (2 & 3):
I don’t have the “secret formula” on organizing this stuff. Should tasks like “Mojo Research” and all others like it be a whole separate project called “Competitive Research”? Maybe. Then the task would go there.
Should it just be under one of the tasks under the “Market Research” project? That is how I started organizing that topic. Maybe not the best fit. Luckily you can easily drag tasks around should we create a new “Competitive Research” project, dragging the “About The COMPETITION” task under there.
SIDE NOTE : it just dawned on me…. this dragging stuff around means we should probably have created SUBTASKS under the “About The COMPETITION Articles” task. One for each competitor: “Mojo Research”, “Spojo Research”, “Pojo Research”, and “General Co. Research”. The reason? If we did create a Competitive Research project we could “explode” the subtasks by dragging them out of the parent project and making them individual entries under the new project.
The last option? Make it a subtask under Finalize Business Plan since that is why we need to do competitive research TODAY.
The question to ask is “Why are we doing this NOW?” Why are we researching Mojo? For the hell of it? Or are we trying to accomplish a short term goal? IMO Mojo Research is critical to answering questions from investors. As such it should go under “Obtain Seed Funding” and further should be in the “Finalize Business Plan” task. That is our “guide to answering investor questions”.
By asking “Why are we doing this NOW?” and “Where does this BELONG?” we will avoid “going down too many rabbit holes” (to steal Kent’s expression).