I have a love/hate relationship with task management systems. On the one hand I’d really love to be able to have a centralised area where I can put all my tasks and then focus on doing them. Task lists are apparently the way to improve productivity within businesses by some high percentage, but y’know, I’ve never found that I can use them effectively.
You see, the problem with most task lists is they just get in the way of me doing anything. They’re not intuitive, they’re not easy to use or on the flip side, they’re incredibly easy to use but lack useful features. And then one day I was scrolling through my brand new Google+ feed when someone told me about Asana which had literally just been launched, so I checked it out.
First thing to note is that rather than going for a single-column minimalist approach favoured by many task systems, it fills the the whole screen and will expand to fill whatever’s available.
One of the most useful bits of functionality with the system is the way it organises everything so logically. You begin with ‘Workspaces’ which can be pretty much anything and don’t have to be related at all. With other task systems I’ve found myself creating multiple accounts to keep private and work-related stuff separate, not necessary with Asana.
When you’ve created your workspaces, you then create projects within each one. For example, I could have a workspace for ‘home’ in which I put two projects, say “Sort accounts” and “Build garage extension” (none of which you’ll ever find on my lists), and a completely separate workspace for “Business” with separate projects this time with the names of the companies I’m working for.
This method of organising tasks means I have everything there in front of me, regardless of what it’s for.
I can then assign the tasks to myself or to other people. So, I could assign the graphic design to Chris and assign all the really clever stuff such as programming to myself. If Chris is also part of the workgroup (called a ‘follower’) he can also add tasks to me.
This is where it gets really good because I find I work better with a printed list and with other task system I need to print out multiple lists for multiple projects, however at the top of each workgroup is a heading called “Andy’s tasks” and if I click on that I can see all my tasks, regardless of which project they’re in. I can then print it off and get to work – genius.
Of course, if this was just task management then it would be doing a superb job, but there’s even more to Asana than that, you see you can also add notes, attach files and add comments to each task which are timestamped giving an excellent method of tracking your projects.
Many people have said that it goes further than that though because with such flexibility you could use Asana for support tickets, project management and a whole host of other things.
And the verdict? Well, I’m still using it now – it’s marvellous and I have to say it’s the only task manager I’ve ever used which I’m still using months later.