Asana Tutorial for Small Business

By VICKY BROWN

In a few episodes, I have mentioned that Asana is my preferred project management system.  Today I’m going to take you on a deeper dive into how I use it.

Asana has 4 pricing tiers.  And while there are some additional features in the Premium, Business and Enterprise tiers – the truth is that most people (including me) find that the Basic, free tier is more than enough to not only get started, but to take you quite a way on your organization journey.  In fact, there are any number of successful companies that have never moved off of the free tier – yep, it’s THAT good.

The free tier gives you unlimited tasks, project, messages, file storage and a host of other perks – and it allows you to collaborate with up to 15 teammates.  If you need things like timeline view, task dependences or to work with more than 15 teammates, you’ll have to upgrade to one of the paid tiers.

But as I mentioned, the free tier is more than robust for most uses.

Once you set up your Asana account, then the fun begins.  The Asana overall structure goes like this:

  • There are Teams – I’ve used teams to define my different companies, one is for Idomeneo, one for Leaders Journey Experience, and another for the Idomeneo Insurance agency.  And then I further broke them down into departments, so for instance Sales, Admin, Operations etc.
  • then there are Projects – for me, this is the backbone of Asana.  A project is the container for tasks.  So you’re probably thinking, why can’t I have a task that isn’t in a project – well you can.  But I find that the types of things I am working on in the business have multiple steps or tasks – like Video Production, or course creation – and when you have a multi tiered process like these, it’s helpful to put in all under a separate project.
  • A quick note here – you can add someone to a team or a project, but the big difference here is when they’re added to a project, they get task notifications; but if they are joined to a team, they can simply view everything under that team, and only get limited project notifications.  Think of it as an active, vs. inactive role.  Project members are active, Team members are just watching the movie.  For me, it makes sense to only add people to projects.  But remember, Asana is so flexible, you can set it up differently to best fit your needs.
  • OK, so we did Teams and Projects, the final piece of the pie is a task, and it’s exactly what it sounds like.  A task is an action you have to take.  Generally, a project will have a bunch of tasks inside it.

One of the easiest ways to show you what I mean it to take a look at my Book project.  I used this to write and launch my book in 2020 – that’s why you will (thankfully) see that most of the tasks have been completed.  You an toggle between completed and incomplete tasks by using this dropdown.  But, for now, let’s look at both complete and incomplete so you can get a sense of what the whole project looked like.

So, we’re looking at the list view.  You can see that I have set up sections, and under each section are specific tasks.

Let’s take a look at a specific task – so here the task was to rough edit and reorganize a chapter of the book each day from August 10th – August 21st – so I put all that info in the title so I would know at a glance what this task was.

Then I assigned it to myself

And on the original task I actually made a recurring daily task from August 10th through August 21st.

Then I put it in the Books project, and I also assigned it to my FOCUS project – I’ll tell you more about that later.

Once it was done, I checked the completed button.

“The free tier gives you unlimited tasks, project, messages, file storage and a host of other perks – and it allows you to collaborate with up to 15 teammates.”

So, when we go back to our project view, you will see it is in the list, under the Write Book section; but you can also see it in the Board view as well as a Calendar view  -you’ll see how this will be handy later on.

Inside each task, I can have subtasks and assign them to people  – they can be attached to projects as well, I can attach files and photos, put in a description, or add comments.

Earlier I said I attached this task to my FOCUS project.  This is a project specifically to track overall annual, quarterly and monthly goals in the business.  So, in looking at the Focus – 2020 project, you’ll see that I have added sections for each quarter, and to help me along I actually added in an overall theme for each quarter – so for instance Q3’s overall theme was Book Prep, Social Media Management prep and eMail Campaigns; and that’s where the rough edit and reorganize task fell.  So, I if I just wanted to look at my overall company goals for the quarter, the FOCUS project is where I would come to see if we’re staying on track.

Of course, every task doesn’t belong in the FOCUS project.  You may have tasks that aren’t attached to a project at all (although I don’t recommend that).  For those what I call ‘free floating’ tasks, either attach them to a project like Management or General Finance or Customer Service etc.  For me, each task should be part of a project bucket.

So, we’ve covered individual tasks, and projects and teams.  But one of the massive advantages of Asana is that you can slice and dice the list anyway you need to.  So, you can use the Inbox tab and see everything you have to do today and upcoming.

Or you can use the “My Tasks” tab to see a list or calendar of tasks.

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The two projects I spend the most time in are our Podcast Production and Video Production projects.  We set them up in the board view, each video is a task, and has a list of subtasks..  As the video moves along in the production process, from pre production, through production, post-production, marketing, day of tasks and finally completion; we move it from one section to the other – that way we can keep track at a glance of what stage everything is in.

When we’re working on the video, instead of having a checklist, we have set each step up as a task – they can be assigned to someone on the team, and have a specific due date.

For instance, one of the sub tasks in the Pre-Production process is creating the excerpts from that video so we can schedule them for social media.

Each post is assigned to the Social Media Calendar project; and as a result, when you look at the Social Media Calendar project, you can see everything that was scheduled or needs to be scheduled in HootSuite for posting.  This is really handy because we can assign any task inside Asana to the Social Media Calendar – so Podcast excerpts from the Podcast Production project, or notes from the book – or even just something that struck my fancy that I made a task note about in the Journal Notes project.  It’s all available for easy capture and assignment.

For complex processes like Video Production, we created a template to make the process easier.  The template has all the subtasks and info we need on a new video production, we duplicate it, rename it and we’re good to go.

And finally, you can even use it for time blocking.  If you assign a day and time to the task, it will show up on your My Tasks calendar for that specific time.

It’s a great way to keep yourself on track without trying to hold everything in your head.

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