In my opinion, Asana is the best task management tool out there. I’ve been using it since 2012 and have built a business off the back of helping clients to use Asana better.
In the interest of self-improvement, I’ve experimented with other task management tools but always come back to Asana. I find it’s incredibly easy to use and yet powerful and useful for almost any purpose.
In this post (and the video below), I’d like to talk about my 10 favourite features of Asana that make it the best option out there for managing tasks.
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- 1. Add tasks to multiple projects
- 2. Communicate within tasks
- 3. Customise projects with Custom fields
- 4. Post project updates
- 5. See what’s next with MyTasks
- 6. Stay organised with Sections
- 7. Break down tasks into Subtasks and Sections
- 8. Set up projects as a List or board
- 9. See everything at once
- 10. Unicorns and narwhals!
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1. Add tasks to multiple projects
The first one is probably my absolute favourite feature; Asana lets you add tasks to more than one project at once. Sounds simple right? But this is incredibly useful.
For example, I have a project called “Business” where I store tasks related to administration, website updates, email marketing and so on. I also have a board called “Kanban” where I plan when to work on tasks. I have columns for organising tasks by stage: Planning, In-Progress and Complete. This helps me to track larger tasks and mini-projects through stages towards completion.
Because Asana lets you add a task to more than one project at once I can have tasks planned out in various projects and then add them to the “Kanban” project where I prioritise what to work on.
This feature is useful if you have a task that should be accessible in more than one place. For example, let’s say you have a task called “Send invoice”. You could have this in a “Clients” projects (used by a sales team) as well as an “Accounting” project (used by the accounting department).
It’s important to note, adding a task to more than one project doesn’t create a duplicate. It’s the same task. It’s just accessible from more than one place.
2. Communicate within tasks
Asana make’s it very easy to communicate with one another right inside the tasks that you need to complete. This brings the conversation back to the work that need’s to be done so that you can make decisions quicker and keep conversations on topic.
Communication happens inside the comments section of tasks. This means you end up with a thread of comments (sort of like emails) all related to the work that needs to be done.
You can also use the conversations areas to start discussions within a project or team to keep everyone updated and on track.
When you migrate communication to Asana, you can reduce internal email and you’ll naturally start to get more done as the conversation is always more action-orientated (whereas emails can easily get off-topic).
3. Customise projects with Custom fields
Custom Fields (premium feature) allow you to add unique fields of information to your projects and tasks.
Let’s say you use tasks for tracking client payments. You could have a custom field called “Payment Status” set up as a dropdown menu to show whether clients have been invoiced or whether payments have been received.
I use custom fields to track the status of content that I’m working on:
Custom Fields can be set up as drop-down menu’s, open text or numerical fields. This gives you a lot of options when it comes to adding additional information to your tasks and projects and is one of the ways Asana is helping you to track all aspects of your work.
4. Post project updates
When you work with multiple people in Asana, it can be useful to share updates on the status of various projects. Project owners can post updates to the project to notify the project members about how the project is progressing, what's going well, what the team has achieved and how to proceed with next steps.
This is a quick and easy way to keep everyone updated and on track.
Even if you use Asana on your own, using project updates is a great way of recording your progress kind of like writing a journal entry.
5. See what’s next with MyTasks
The MyTasks page is another one of my favourite features of Asana.
As you set up projects and assign tasks to people, you’ll likely end up with tasks assigned to you from multiple projects. Navigating to each of these projects to find your tasks is a real pain, which is where MyTasks comes in.
This page shows you all of the tasks assigned to you from all the different projects. Tasks created directly in My Tasks that aren't in a project are private to you. This is a great way to manage your own private work and to-dos.
You can use the calendar to get a nice view of all the tasks you have coming up and you can click and drag tasks to quickly update due dates.
When tasks are assigned to you, they get added to the “New” section on the MyTasks page. From here, you should move the task into one of three places:
- TODAY – If the task is due today or even if its due later but you'd like to work on it today, you can put it in this section.
- UPCOMING – Everything due within the next 7 days. This section gives you a nice view of what your week looks like.
- LATER – If a task due date is more than a week away, mark it for Later.
The nice thing about these sections is that when you mark a task for Later, it will automatically get moved into Upcoming when the due date is within 7 days. Then, on the day it falls due, the task moves from Upcoming to Today. Using Asana like this means you can open it up in the morning and your day's work is already there waiting for you, without you needing to think about what to work on.
6. Stay organised with Sections
This is another simple feature, but one that often gets overlooked.
Inside your projects, you can list all the different tasks that need to be completed. From here, you can set up sections to visually organise and break up your tasks. You can create a section simply by adding a colon (:) to the end of a task name.
I’ve tried other task management tools and it really bugs me when you can’t organise the work like this. Using sections is a great way to sort tasks into logical areas. For example, a “Website” project may have sections for Design, SEO, Content and so on.
7. Break down tasks into Subtasks and Sections
To expand on this last point, once you’ve created your tasks, you can provide more granular details on the task by creating subtasks and organising these into sections.
One of the common mistakes I see new Asana users make is creating too many projects and tasks. By using subtasks and sections of subtasks, you can use tasks almost like “mini-projects”.
For example, I recently worked on an update to my ebook, Guidelines. This is what I would consider to be a “mini-project” (something that takes a few weeks to complete). To plan this project, I used various subtasks and sections to organise all of my work. Using subtasks helped me to avoid creating an entirely new project for this work (creating lots of projects can make things harder to manage).
8. Set up projects as a List or board
By default, you create projects as a list. However, Asana recently released its new board layout giving you the option of setting up a project using columns and tasks shown as cards. This is a big win for previous Trello users who like planning using this vertical layout.
Boards are great for brainstorming ideas or if you have attached images to tasks and want to be able to quickly view them.
I love using the board layout for my Kanban project (described above) as it gives me a nice visual way of tracking tasks through stages.
9. See everything at once
Another simple user experience feature is the ability to view your project and task details all at once. Unlike some task management tools, when you click to view a task, you can no longer see the project and other related tasks (unless you close the task you’re currently viewing).
When using the list view in Asana, you can click to view a task which brings up the task pane on the right-hand side of the window. This means you can edit tasks and click to view other tasks all while still being able to view the rest of the project.
10. Unicorns and narwhals!
Asana’s brand is very colourful and fun. When you complete a task, you may be lucky enough to see a unicorn or narwhal fly across your screen. This isn’t exactly a powerful productivity feature, but it makes getting the work done all the more fun.
You can also customise the colours used for projects and tags in Asana to make projects easier to identify. You can consider coming up with a colour scheme that makes sense for your organisation. You can use one colour for all client projects and another colour for administrative projects. Or you could use red tags to highlight high priority items.
So there you have it; some of my favourite features of Asana. I’d love to hear whether you have any favourite features that I’ve missed. Please leave me a comment and share your ideas!
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