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Posted on Admin Army

Why I switched to using Asana as my project management tool

What made Asana stand out above the others?

As a small business owner, how many balls do you currently juggling at a time?  I would be surprised if anyone answered anything less than at least 20 to that question.  The problem with juggling a number of wide-ranging tasks is that you have to make sure you’re always keeping an eye on which one is going to drop next.

I can’t juggle

In all honesty, I’m terrible at juggling balls. I would even go as far as to suggest I have the hand/eye coordination of a peanut.  If I’m not careful, I’m not that much better at juggling tasks.  Simply because it’s so easy to get caught up in what’s right in front of me and lose sight of all of the other things you have to do. Then, before you know it, you’ve dropped one.  And if you’re a Virtual Assistant like me and one of those tasks is a client task, and you’re really big on customer service, that’s a big problem!

Project Management Software

Fortunately, there’s a simple solution to this problem – project management software.  In my ’10 Best Online Tools for Small Business’ blog earlier this year, I mentioned that I had been using Trello and ranked it as “potentially the best piece of project management software for Virtual Assistants”.  I have, however, now moved on from Trello and I’m convinced (again!) that I’ve found the answer – Asana.

List view vs. board view

I had a few annoyances with Trello earlier this year that I needed to solve in order to continue operating as efficiently as possible.  My number one issue was that in addition to using loading tasks into Trello, I was still writing and rewriting my ‘to do’ list each day because I prefer to operate from a list view.  While this process was always a welcome opportunity to assess what I had to do for the day, it was inevitable that items would be unintentionally left off the list.  Additionally, some days you’re just raring to go and want to crank into your work as soon as you hit your desk. No? Just me then? Ok…

As an added bonus, with Asana’s list view, I can sort my tasks my due date.  What a simple and effective method of sorting my priorities for the day or week.  That feature alone has made my life 100 times better!

Side note: never fear if you prefer to operate from a board view (like sticky notes).  When setting up a project in Asana it gives you the option to choose which layout style you prefer. 

Moving tasks out of my email inbox

My other main issue was around getting tasks from my email converted into tasks I need to complete.

For example, Client X sends me an email saying:

  • Can you do Task A for me by Friday;
  • Here is an attached document; and,
  • You need to do B, C and D to make this happen.

I have previously always just worked out of my email inbox, along with my aforementioned ‘to do’ lists.  However, this was becoming impractical for two key reasons:

1)     I dropped a ball – not a highlight of my year, that’s for sure.  I completely missed a client task, and it got lost in my email inbox.  As soon as I realised, I turned that client task around in record speed and still met my client’s deadline.  But I knew I had to take the learning from that moment.

2)     I was growing the Admin Army team, and I knew that I needed to be making changes to ensure that I could task them appropriately.  They certainly couldn’t be working out of my email inbox alongside me.  I also definitely didn’t want any of them working out of their email inboxes and dropping any balls.

Fortunately, Asana has a great solution for this too.  You simply forward the email to Asana’s email address, they use your email address linked to your account to load this into your workspace.  You can set the task name using the email subject line and make team members task followers by CCing them into the email.

My biggest criticism of this feature is that I still need to manually go into the system and assign those tasks to team members and give them a due date.  Even with that in mind, I’d rate this feature as one of the best inventions since sliced bread with the impact that it’s had on how I operate.

Magical Unicorns

There is also one other feature of Asana that I just LOVE – it’s always a win when you’re ticking tasks off your list.  However, Asana takes this one step further and actually celebrates with you! Wait, what? That’s right!  When you complete a task, Asana might send a Unicorn, Narwhal, Phoenix, or Yeti shooting across your screen!  And believe me, nothing quite says woohoo like a unicorn!

The other great benefit of Asana is the one that I’m yet to explore further – the additional features that I can enable over time as Admin Army’s client base and team grow.  This includes many of the Asana Premium features, like custom fields and task dependencies, as well as integrations with third-parties for document management and time tracking.  I’m excited to see where the next six or so months of using Asana will take Admin Army.

What do you use to keep track of your projects?  If it’s Asana, what features do you love or hate about it?