Do you have frazzled feeling by all your notes on bits of paper, or that ever growing to-do list. If so, using a work management system could be the answer for you.
In this blog we will take a quick look at Asana, which is a work management platform that helps you to manage projects, planning and processes within your business.
So, what exactly is Asana?
Asana is a software that is designed to improve team collaboration and work management. It helps teams manage projects and tasks in one tool. Teams can create projects, assign work to teammates, specify deadlines, and communicate about tasks directly in one place.
Firstly you need to set up an Asana account. Make sure you set this up with your work email, as you will need this to be able to link to your team when setting up tasks.
You only need to set up a Free/Basic account to start with, as this comes with all the basics a small business needs to manage their workload. Once you become more established on Asana and grow your team, you can look into the paid options and how they could benefit your business.
There are three main sections to get you started:
Set up your team
Once you have set up your account, you can set up some of the basic structures of your business by setting up teams. This could be teams to represent different segments of your business, i.e. Marketing and Sales.
By setting up your business into teams, this can help you segment the tasks within your business like you would on your to-do list. Making it much easier to manage.
Creating a team (Asana.com)
You can set up projects within each team, so you can see an overview of all the projects they have to manage. Then you can use the templates that Asana have created for you, but it is best to start with a blank template to get you started. You can choose to explore the templates to get ideas for your own projects. Here you can create public projects that all team members can see, or you can create a private board if you want to have a project that is just for you.
For example, if you have set up a Marketing team, you might set them the following projects:
- Content calendar
- New project launch
- Market research
Creating a new project (Asana.com)
Once you have created a project, you can create smaller tasks within the project. This can represent the stages within the project, which you can assign to different people within the team.
When setting up a task, you can click on it to add more information:
- Give the task a description
- Assign the task to a team member
- Add a due date and time
So, for example within the Marketing team, there is a Content calendar project, the tasks for this could include:
- Create a monthly theme
- Create the content for social media
- Create images for the content
- Schedule on social media
You can see that you can also organise your task list into sections, to make it easier for you see which tasks have multiple elements to complete. If you have one member of the team creating the content and another member of the team designing the images, you can assign them the different tasks. But by assigning them both the project, they can see when their team member has carried out their task ready for them to complete their task. They can also communicate on the task itself by attaching images and adding comments.
Adding tasks (Asana.com)
Choose your view
Asana gives you the option on how you view your projects and tasks. You can use a list view, board view or calendar view. Other options are available on the paid option, but these three on the basic account give you a clear view of your workload.
The list is what is called, a list of the tasks within the sections you have organised it.
Board allows you to view tasks and move them across the screen, much like on Trello. So you could create sections for your tasks into: to do, doing and done, and move them across your screen as you complete them.
Calendar view allows you to see all your upcoming tasks within their timeframe. The dates and times you have allocated to the tasks, allow them to be viewed here.
Calendar View (Asana.com)
The My Tasks tab on the left panel allows you to see an overview of the tasks you have set across the projects. You can choose how you view your own tasks and you can see when they are due.
My Task View (Asana.com)
Key features of Asana
You can add reoccurring tasks to your projects. If you have a weekly team meeting with your marketing team, you can set up your meeting as a task. Assign the team members, set up a date and time, then click repeat and add if it is weekly and assign the day of the week and time it is to be held. When you click complete on this weeks’ meeting, Asana will automatically then add the meeting task for the following week.
Choice of view
You can choose the view that suits your visual needs. If you prefer a list to a board, you can choose your choice of view. Your team member might like to see everything in a board, but you can choose your own preference to view the projects and tasks.
If you have used the colour options on your teams, you will be able to see the different tasks and which teams they are assigned to. When you tick a task as complete, the task then fades in colour but is still shown on the calendar. This helps you have a visual of the tasks you have completed, and which tasks are outstanding.
Easy for teams
Not only can you allocate the projects and tasks to members of your team, you can also use the task to communicate with the member of the team. By attaching images/files to the task, it makes it easier for your team to share information with each other, so they can see the progress of the task. They can also write comments on the task and tag each other in, so they get notified when someone has left a message on the task, maybe saying they have completed their element of the project… or maybe asking for some help.
As a team of Virtual Assistants, we use several different types of work management platforms. Asana is similar to Trello – you can read more about Trello in our previous blog. However, Asana has the ability to adapt to your team with the options of different views, from list, board and calendar.
We have found that using work management platforms has enabled us to provide clear communication with our clients, without having to send lots of emails. The updates on a project are all stored in one area, making it us easier for us to see. This also means that we have a seamless connection into our clients business, making their VA an extended part of their business team.