If you’ve ever heard about Asana but never gave it a closer look, you’ll want to check this out.
I show you how to use Asana quickly and effortlessly.
The Ultimate Guide: How to Use Asana for Your Business
- Today we're taking a look at Asana, which for me has become our project manager task manager application of choice here at Dotto Tech. And there's lots of choices out there in the marketplace. There's lots of really good project managers and task managers but one thing is, I always struggle with what I describe Asana as, I have to admit that. Sometimes I call it a project manager, sometimes I call it a task manager. And I have not visited Asana's home page in a long time. Instead of calling themself a task manager or project manager, Asana calls itself a work manager, and I thought, that's simple. It's brilliant and it's simple. So today we're gonna take a look at one of the ways, just one of the ways, because Asana is such a flexible tool, but one of the ways that you can use Asana as your work manager, on Dotto Tech. Steve Dotto here, how the heck you doing this fine day? If you're looking for a business manager, a tool that allows you to create an infrastructure that your business can be built on, I think you might be looking in the right place if you take some time and examine Asana. Let's begin looking at Asana today by talking about the overall structure that Asana brings to the table. Now I first started Asana as a task manager, but it very quickly converted into a project manager, so it kinda became both those things to me, which is why I'm happy I came up with it, or discovered the term work manager because that makes so much more sense. Now within Asana I think if we can look at kind of three levels, the first level is you have a work space. Now that can be your company, or it can be your division, the workspace is the kind of overarching organization that you're working with. That can be just you as an individual too if you're just using it as a personal work manager, but we're gonna focus today on a team based aspect because we use it, at least I use it at Dotto Tech to manage our entire team as we work collaboratively towards each project. Then you've got projects, and so your projects live within your workspace, and into each project you can add different team members. You can also invite outsiders to be part of projects should you choose. So kind of, it's I guess, it's parallel to the three levels that we're talking about, but you have your individual accounts that people who participate in the, in whatever projects you're working on, or in your workspace. And then finally you have the actual tasks themselves, and the tasks are what really fired my imagination when I first started using Asana, because how we look at tasks and the control they give us when we create a new task, is so rich an environment that it just allows you to quickly structure whatever projects you're working on based on the assignments within the tasks. So that is the, kind of the overarching view of Asana, now before I actually take you into the demo itself, I should point out to you that Asana, we are not in any ways affiliated with Asana, I'm not an Asana affiliate, we don't make any money from Asana, so this video today is just purely educational as far as that's concerned, no commercial ulterior motive to this video. Let's take a look at the layout of Asana, because when you set up every project, when you start a new project, actually I'll start with that because I'll take you into the creation of a brand new project. I'm gonna add a project, and when you create a project, you get to choose the type of project that you're creating within Asana, and they've given you, this used to be a really simple decision back in the day, you could create a list or a board. So a list would have all of your tasks listed out, and a board creates a Kanban-like board which is the way that I do all of my work, I love having that board metaphor. But now they've got all these templates that can help you get started, from meeting agenda's through to cross-functional project plans, brainstorming sessions, all of these different sort of things. But let's just start with a blank project. And when you start with a blank project, now you get to the choice that I have, and I'm gonna call this a Demo Project, and it can be a list, or it can be a board. They've added something new called a timeline which you have to upgrade to premium for, not gonna talk about it today, but looks pretty exciting when you take a look at it. And you can also create a new calendar at this point here, and you can also choose who it's being shared with, who this project, if it's public to everybody that's part of your team, or if it's private just to you, or if you want it, again upgrade to the premium service you can make it just for your individual project members. So I'm gonna choose a board, because I love using boards. The board metaphor in Asana is what won me over. Now Asana isn't the only work manager or task manager that uses the board metaphor, a lot of you are very familiar with Trello which uses it to great success, and there are other services that use it as well. But this concept of this Kanban layout where you've got these different columns and each of your tasks are listed in the columns and you can move them through the project as you work your way through, is in my mind the most efficient way to create knowledge content of the sort that we do, and I'll show you our actual, some of our actual projects in a few moments, including how we create our videos. But here, if we take a look at this one screen here, you can see that you can rename any of these different columns to suite whatever you are, you need. Then, within each column come the tasks, and these tasks are as I say, such a rich environment. When you open a task, you can name it anything you want, you can assign a due date to it, so that it is, you know, when it's due to be done, and you can choose whatever person is responsible to do that right within the task. And then you've got a really flexible area, this is an HTML field that you can put boldface information in, and you can add all sorts of links, but you can create a description of exactly what that task is. This as far as I'm concerned, is a whiteboard, where you can put down anything that's related, instructions, resources, it really works in a variety of different ways and as you design your own personal productivity system for your team and your own project management system for your team, you will start to use these different fields and these different areas in different ways. I'll show you how we use ours in a moment, but that description field is ever so flexible., ever so useful. But if you take a look along the top, this is where you see all of the different kind of functions that you can add to these individual tasks. And if we start on the far left side here, you can add attachments to it, and you can add attachments, you can actually just drop a link into the description field if you wanna attach something that way. But there's integration with obviously uploading a file from your computer, but with with Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and OneDrive, you can actually incorporate any files directly from these resources. So it integrates with your team-based file sharing resources in this way, or you could upload a file from your computer which is then uploaded into Asana tasks so that others can download it and access those files. The next one is the real important one, subtasks, if I click on that, it then automatically creates a new line item which is, "Something new to do". And these subtasks can nest one after the other, if we go the right hand side of each subtask, we can add a date that that subtask is due, you can assign it to a person, or an individual, or to yourself, and then you can also add notes in it and if you look down here at the bottom, you can create a conversation with your other team members based on the tasks at hand. Now this is one of the places that Asana, where we will all use Asana slightly differently, because communicating about tasks within Asana is a really efficient way to keep the ball moving downfield as far as getting your projects done. But a lot of us are very concerned with communications within our team, so we incorporate tools like Slack, or a similar tool to manage all of our team-based communications, to basically move us out of email. But here's how we use it ourselves, when we're dealing with general communications within our organization, we use Slack, it's the, we're using it on an ongoing basis, but when we are talking specifically about items in projects that we're working on, and I'll again show you an example, but for example, if I'm in the middle of editing a video, or Liz is in the middle of editing a video and she asks me specifically for something about that video, that project, she will then communicate with me in Asana, and it will come through as a task here, or as a communication within Asana. And if you set up your notifications, you'll be notified within Asana or you can be receive an email notification that there's a comment in that project. And we use it that way, so all of the communication that's specifically about the project itself, happens within Asana, general communications happens in Slack. So let's continue on with this entire world of subtasks. You can also create a subtask to a subtask, so you can nest multiple tasks in as you work your way through it. And you think that might get a little bit confusing, but some projects require that, some projects have, you know, you're working on an element within the project that has multiple subtasks attached to it. And one of the things that you will consider as you start to use Asana more, is creating templates, creating some of these tasks as templates which have all of the structure of what has to happen, so for repeating things like, a webinar that you put on on a weekly basis like we do. There's a series of tasks that have to happen each and every week. So we create a template of what those tasks look like, and then we create the specific items, specific dates and related information within the template, within the note after the task after we've duplicated it. And again, I will show you that as well in just a few moments. So here within the task template you have your ability to work your way through, and you navigate through breadcrumbs here at the top, so right now I'm in the subtask, if I wanna go back to the main task I can just click here and that brings me back to the main task. Next to the subtask button is a link generation button that turns the task into a sharable link that you can share with others, inside or outside of Asana. And also a little like button, that's kind of allowing people to say, "Yes, I acknowledge that this task is there", I don't know, sometimes Liz uses it to let me know when I've assigned her something, to say, "Okay, I've got it Steve, I'm on it", that's the way we use it, I don't know how you'll end up using the like button, seems like a little bit of wasted space to me, but it is there. And then we have the dropdown menu for some more detail, and here we see some of the things that are available in the paid version as well as some features that are available in the free version. And everything I'm showing you today is in the free version, we still use the free version of Asana to manage everything on Dotto Tech. My team is constantly saying, "Steve, we should upgrade", and I know we should upgrade, we're going to upgrade at some point in the near future, but I'm having so much fun with the free version I'm just running with it as long as I can. You can mark it as a dependency, and creating dependency's is the one reason that I'm really looking forward to upgrading when I do eventually upgrade our version of Asana. Because dependency's allow you to do this, when this task is complete, then notify the next person that their task is due. Creating a dependency where one task gets assigned based on the completion of the task before, it is a terrific workflow management feature. That along with the fact that you can now create a timeline, a workflow that's based on a timeline and manage tasks within a calendar timeline type interface, those are the two reasons that one will consider upgrading to the paid version of Asana once you've started to use it. But we're how many years into using Asana, four years into using Asana, it's still on the free version, so just the base features that I'm showing you, still, today, are pretty darn good. How about if we, well before I take you into our, one of our installs of Asana, so you can see actually how it works, I wanna talk to you about one other aspect here, and that is, once you've got your task assigned, then creating these columns that create the individual workflow as the task moves through the different systems, that is a big part of the value of Asana as far as I'm concerned. And all you do is you grab a task and move it from one column to the other as it progresses through. And when a task is complete, you go into it and you just check off the completion, or you can say the whole task is complete here, so you can say subtasks are complete, or the task itself is complete and then it grays out because it's not active, once you've said that a task is complete. How about if we take a look at our projects and just kind of take a step in, so you can get an idea. And these are how many projects I'm working on currently and using Asana for. And the main ones that we use it for to be honest, are these three. We create all of our videos here in Asana. And I've got a template column, I've got one to catch all of my ideas for different videos, I've got videos that are actually in production, and here's the video that we're working on right now, getting started with Asana, there we can see it. We have one's that are published, and we have pre and post production columns as well. And I migrate these cards, these tasks through these columns as we're working on each individual video. And it all starts with a video template, so if I have an idea to do a new video, what I do is I open this video template, and here you can see that we've actually pre-assigned not by date, but by who's responsible for it. Each step of our video creation process, they're all listed out here. And so when I start, when I'm gonna, when I'm ready to start a new video I start the project here, I go, "Duplicate this task", and then I name it, "New video idea", I name the video, you always have to check off this, "Assignee", I don't know why they don't have that pre-selected within Asana, but they don't. Once I create that, it takes a moment, now Asana is cloud-based, so I'm working in my browser, I'm not working in app here but I'm working actually in the browser, and so it takes a second for it to communicate with the internet, but here now we have the new task ready to go. And then I open that task up and now I can do all of the work on that task and start to schedule out the tasks. So, the first thing is I do is I say what date are we gonna publish this video on, so I'll set a date for the publishing of the video and then I'll go in and I'll say okay, this is the date that my rough cut of the video is due and I want Liz to create a lead magnet for this one which would be like something that we're going to offer in the video to create people to register, say for our newsletter, and so we can create that part of the task and then I can go in here and I can go into the description and say, "I want XYZ for a lead magnet" and start the conversation happening. And then Liz, as I mentioned earlier can respond in here to any communication that we have, based on this subtask of the overall task. And I go through and I assign dates and responsibilities for the rest of the pieces. But that's just the beginning, because once I've recorded the video, then what I do is, I go into the attach file area, I go into our Dropbox folder where we have a video, a video sharing folder and there I upload, or link to the video that I have recorded and done the rough-cut edit on so that Liz then has access to the assets. This is one of the things that really excites me about using Asana, is as each of us is working on the project, if the rest of us have used Asana, have used each task properly where we've loaded all of the different assets in as we work our way through the video then we've all got access to everything that we need for that video. So all of the attachments happen here, and if I close this down and we go back and we take a look at a video that we posted, say a week, a couple of weeks ago, if we take a look through here you can see that there's the rough-cut of the video that Liz had access to when she was ready to edit it. And here, if I take a look, I hope it's here, thumbnails, there they are, if I click here on the thumbnails, here's where Liz uploaded the thumbnails that we use on YouTube. So that if I need that thumbnail in another social platform, if I'm going to share it in some other way, I've got access to the thumbnail so I don't have to go looking on different servers or different drives, they're all contained here within the task. Now she hasn't actually uploaded it, she's just linked it from Dropbox to the task, but this gives us access to each stage of the process. Similarly, if we take a look here, I had a video that we're actually working on right now, all of the notes that I create and as I'm writing the demo are listed here as well, so if Liz needs to refer to the theme or any of the resources that I happen to mention within the video, all of the links will be here in the description field so that she has access to all of those assets when she needs them. The discipline of making sure that, of using a tool like Asana properly, making sure that all of the different assets are placed where they're supposed to be makes it a really efficient tool for us. I have trouble imaging a more efficient system for us to create our videos than what we've built in Asana. And I could spend hours showing you all of the different nuances and the different little features that will make you smile, but I think you get a good idea for just what Asana brings to the table. Now if you found this video today to be valuable and you're looking for a little bit of a deeper dive into a lot of these different productivity tools, I wanna let you know that every week here at Dotto Tech we host something called Webinar Wednesday which is a free tutorial webinar that I deliver live on a different aspect of content creation or productivity. There's gonna be links below, but that will allow you to dive deeper and ask me questions about products that we showcase here on the show. And Asana is a topic that we have taken on in the past on Webinar Wednesday and we will most certainly again in the near future. I would love to hear your comments, what you think about Asana, if it's a product that you think you should be using, if there are other great work managers that you think we should be looking at here on the show, we'd love to see your comments down below. Now if you found today's video useful, you can do us one huge favor and that is share it with friends who might find it valuable and don't forget to give us a like as well. If you've not yet subscribed to Dotto Tech, please subscribe and ring the notification bell so you hear when we upload any new videos. Till next time, I am Steve Dotto. Have fun storming the castle!
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