Since there are so many options out there to digitally manage our projects and routines, I thought it might be helpful for you to see what I’m currently doing with Asana. (Because I love it. And it’s easy to use. And it totally takes away the stress of managing thousands of details.)
I’m highlighting just one way you can use the software, and I hope this is helpful to you!
The podcast will explain the basic principles and how this fits in with my daily and weekly routines, and then I’ve included a few screen shots below and a basic outline of what I covered in the audio.
Please feel free to post questions in the comments section!
You can sign up for your own free account with Asana here.
And if you’d like to hear the podcast Eric and I recorded with Amy Porterfield, where we discussed how Asana helps keep emails at zero, you can find that here.
All right, let’s jump in!
Here are a few images to help you see the basic structure of Asana:
First, instead of using the “Projects” area for individual projects, I use it to create categories.
These are the main two categories I created:
Second, I have “April’s Projects” divided into four sections.
- Current Projects – The 2-3 projects I’m working on this week. Any more than that overwhelms me.
- In Progress/Waiting – These are the ones I’ve started, but I can’t move forward until a collaborator finishes his/her part OR something else in my life happens.
- Next in Line – These are the VERY next projects I want to do, just as soon as I have the bandwidth.
- Someday – These are projects I don’t want to forget, but I just can’t do them right now.
Third, I create sub-tasks for each of the projects (and Asana lets you create sub-sub-tasks and more…).
This enables me to assign different tasks to different collaborators and give each task a deadline, if necessary.
Fourth, I create sections in “My Routines” based on my responsibilities.
I have a separate routines list inside Evernote that covers all my daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual routines for my life, in general (including my personal needs, family needs, general business needs, etc.), but this list in Asana is like my “dream list” for everything I would like to do inside my business.
That way, when I am on the computer and working in the details of LearnDoBecome.com, I can pay closer attention to the facets of my work without feeling like way too much is required of me. (Routines don’t stress me out. If they HAVE to be done or are calendar-specific, they’re on my calendar.)
Would you like an outline of what I cover in the podcast?
I created it using Evernote, and if you’d like to view it or save it to your own Evernote, click here or on the image below!
As I’ve started working with more and more entrepreneurs, business professionals, and busy parents, I’ve realized that overwhelm is one of THE key problems that everyone is facing. I understand. (I really understand.)
But when I streamline my lists and organize things in a way that enables me to actually accomplish them, that stress and pressure goes away. I want the same for you!
Whether or not you use Asana, I want you to invest a little bit of time figuring out what kind of a system will work for you. You deserve it, and it will help you to finally enjoy your life. (Most days, at least!)
Good luck, and please let me know how I can help!
Optimizing Asana-Using Boards to Manage Projects
Streamline Your Routines in Asana
Want to Be Organized? Start With These Five Things
Apps Our LearnDoBecome Community Members Love
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Jodie F says
Thanks for this, April! The timing is perfect for me, as I’m working through the STEP system now, and need a tool to use to build my machine. I’ve been playing with Asana and don’t see how to implement the context-sensitive lists. I can tag (sub-)tasks, but it is quite awkward to search for them on the desktop and iPad versions of Asana. Am I missing something?
By the way, I’m loving the STEP program, as it neatly resolves a number of the problems I’ve encountered in my previous attempts to implement GTD.
April Perry says
Thanks Jodie!! And great question. I answered with a video: http://screencast.com/t/TEhaPCmat Essentially, you’ll make a Current Projects list a “Project” in Asana, and then add your 5 contexts as sections. That should be pretty easy to maintain, especially if you keep the list SUPER short. Good luck!!
I’m pretty sure you wrote this for ME. I went to bed last night determined to get a handle on my task management TODAY, so the timing couldn’t have been better. I have one question. Since I don’t have a business that I am running (my family is really my only significant business) would you recommend using Asana for my home and family routines? Or do you find that evernote works better for those types fo things? Thanks!
April Perry says
Hi Crystal! I’m so excited for you and look forward to hearing more about your home and family routines! YES. I recommend Asana for your family. You’ll either want to use the “sections” in bold for Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, Semi-Annual, and Annual routines or you can brainstorm them by the category of your work: Meal Planning, Laundry, Home Maintenance, Clothing, Errands, Spiritual Strengthening, Health Needs, etc. But the project work will be exactly the same. Evernote works really well for holding routines, as well, but it won’t put them into recurring reminders for you. Another option would be to just list routines in Evernote and then do all your project work and your calendar-specific task list and Next Actions in Asana. I recorded a screen cast about that for another community member: http://screencast.com/t/TEhaPCmat Hope that helps!!
I’m LDS and I recently decided to go back to school and finish my degree thru online classes. My question is how to classify church callings (such as visiting teaching and cub scouts) and college classes, are they considered projects or routines?
April Perry says
Hi Susan! Responsibilities inside of an organization like a church or school would be routines, once they’re on auto-pilot. If you’re establishing an annual schedule, planning a larger event, or completing a huge project, that would be noted on your “Projects” list. Thanks so much!
When you showed your screen you had a list view, which I love. However, I have only been able to see a board view and I’m not sure what I am doing wrong.
April Perry says
Hi Kelly! Yes–Asana launched the board view a few months ago (I think to keep up with Trello?). I would google “How to switch from board view to list view in Asana” or something like that. It’s inside of the settings. I like the List View WAY better. Good luck!!
Janice Skrobot says
My husband and I have recently started a Realestate investment company. Can Google Drive take the place of Asana and Evernote? Or do they each cover a different aspect of organizing and running a business?
April Perry says
Congratulations on your new business!! So exciting. Okay, so Google Drive could take the place of Evernote. It’s a little clunkier when working on your phone, so you may want to look into Evernote to organize photos of homes, listing information, etc. But you could totally start with Google Drive and Asana. You’d need both, though. Asana would help you manage the tasks and projects. Google Drive would manage the files to support those things. But don’t set Asana up the way they recommend. 🙂 If you set it up the way we do it (more info in the full STEP program), it will feel effortless. Hope that helps! If you haven’t taken our free class yet, you can sign up here: https://learndobecome.com/step
Hi April – thank you so much for this!
My question is about sharing with other people.
In order to share tasks or projects with others, do you have to share the entire “April’s Projects” with them? If so, do they also have access to all the info of the projects they are not involved with?
Taryn Wood says
Hi, Savana! Thanks for asking. 🙂 April keeps her personal projects totally separate so that they don’t need to be shared with people who wouldn’t need that information. You can create multiple groups inside of Asana. I hope this helps! Feel free to reach out to the team via email if you have further questions, [email protected]. Thanks for being with us!
Amazing! I’m in love with this process.
I have a question, what do you do with tasks that are not related to projects? Do you add them to your next actions list directly.
I seem to be having more of those than the project related ones.
Taryn Wood says
Great question, Sandra! Tasks not related to projects can definitely be added to your next actions list. You want to be sure that you’ll be able to get them done this week so be careful not to add too many at a time. 🙂 I hope this is helpful! Feel free to reach out to our team with further questions: [email protected]. Thanks for being with us!
Rosalie Will says
Here’s a challenge I’m struggling with – finally reorganized Asana (the way you work it April is a bit more helpful to me than one I watched of someone else), and Evernote. Yay.
My challenge is with projects that are routines (?) – projects that are ongoing and recurring, but have different steps – so more than a routine.
I work half time as a private business (consultant, teacher, singer) and half time for a company. I have an ongoing “project” (supervising a fellowship of youth over a year) that require different tasks at different times (this week email the mentors, next week put some new tasks in their googledrive). But it’s not a next actions project/or a context based list – but it’s not a routine that I can maybe sometimes remember to do. How would I sort ongoing work but that has different tasks as I move through time?
April Perry says
Soooo excited about all your progress, Rosalie!! You are doing great. (I can tell by the quality of your question!)
Let me know if this makes sense/is similar enough.
My husband and I work with about 1000 college students at our local university, and my role is different every week. Sometimes I attend their meetings, sometimes I’m putting a lesson together, sometimes I’m posting to the Instagram account, sometimes I’m hosting events, etc.
I set up a Sunday routine to “Plan my work with the young adults.” During that 15-minute planning session, I block out events on the calendar, add date-specific reminders to my calendar (like “buy snacks at Sam’s Club” Monday or “text group leaders Saturday”), and if there are one-off Next Actions that are flexible, I put those on my N/A List.
That way, it just folds into my week, and it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
What are your thoughts on that? Would that work for you?
YES, thank you – perfect and right in line with what would be helpful. I find I have so many broken out tasks for projects (good) that I put in projects AND in next context based actions that I get confused. This is a helpful way to plan my week; and when more things break out I usually add them into “computer” section the weekly next actions. I will try it this weekend!
April Perry says
So happy to hear that, Rosalie!! The key for me is to have a SUPER short “Computer” section on my Next Actions List. (I keep my more personal ones there.) Then my project time each day is focused on the Next Actions listed in Asana for the very short list of projects I am working on. The deadlines you can set in Asana work well as Calendar Triggers, if they are needed, but my goal is for you to have VERY few things that have written deadlines—and instead get in the habit of moving things forward naturally each day because your lists are so short and specific. Let us know how it goes!!
Elizabeth Cameron says
Hello, and thank you for all that you give, April! I am doing the STEP Mastery system, and have started exploring Asana a bit prior to listening to this podcast. Like you, I have 100+ project ideas rolling around in my head. SO, the ability to jot them down, store them in an appropriate folder (current, next-in-line, waiting, someday), and “forget” about them really calms my brain. What a gift. Thank you! The screenshots were especially helpful.
1.) Seeing how you organized your projects simply into two groups (1. projects and 2. routines) rather than entering every project really helped me. Visually this is much more calming. I do have a few questions. In the STEPS program you have shown us that our projects should be under three categories (self, family, beyond), with no more than 2-3 in each category. Where are you separating these in your system? Do you have a separate asana project for 1.) personal projects, 2.) family projects, 3.) beyond projects? or are you able to organize them further within a single asana project in the section titled “current projects”? Or do you just lump all personal, family, beyond projects into your asana projects and not differentiate?
2.) You have said that you keep your “next actions list” on a narrow piece of paper in your physical planner. I prefer digital for my next actions list. Currently I have my next actions list as an asana project. Within that project I have five sections (Home, Phone, errand, computer, discuss), but this adds yet another asana project. You have mentioned Eric prefers digital. Does he keep his next actions list in asana? If so, is it an asana project (along with “projects” and “routines”)?
3.) I was already fairly organized and prepared before finding STEP Mastery, but noticed I was making things harder than they need to be. So I am working very diligently to streamline everything in my life. So far the first 23% of the STEP program, various podcasts, the 2-minute rule, keeping next actions 10-minutes or less, and Taryn and your prompt answers to my FB group questions have really helped me (THANK YOU), but I still have further to go in order to carve away enough to make time for the things that REALLY matter. Here is my third question: When entering subtasks into each project in my “current projects” section of “projects”, it is my intention to make these tasks bite size so they are appropriate length for next actions. If I were to keep my next actions as an asana project, is there a way to select a singular subtask from my “current projects tasks” and have it show up on my next actions, or will I need to retype these tasks into my next actions every time I want to add a new task to my next actions? Just trying to find a way to decrease the amount of time it takes to do daily and weekly reviews and avoid recreating things that don’t need to recreated.
4.) Every once and a while a task has a time or date specific deadline. I am aware that asana and google can sync. How can I sync just some of my tasks (the time/deadline specific tasks) into asana and not the other hundreds of tasks?
5.) FREE ASSOCIATION PROJECTS: Sometimes I am walking through a room and I see something that needs to be done, but it is clearly a project, not a task. I used to disrupt whatever I was doing (look at the kitty) and start digging in. This resulted in 20 half-started projects and nothing truly moving forward. Now when this, I open up evernote, title a new note “Project: Organize garage”. I might paste in a few photos, type a short outline, or just speak into a voice memo to use later when I am actually ready to outline tasks for that project. My last question for you is, where do you deal with these project brainstorming ideas for “someday” projects? 1.) Do you immediately list them as a task under “someday” in your asana project “projects” when they pop into your head to serve as a place holder? or do you brainstorm them somewhere else first before entering them as a someday task? 2.) If you do all brainstorming in asana, do you start adding tasks right away, or just make notes in the “description” portion of the task? 3.) or do you just have the place holder and ignore those ideas until you are ready to move that project into current or next in line?
I know I will have more questions as I work to maximize asana’s power. Thank you so much for any direction you can give me.
April Perry says
Hi Elizabeth! Okay, I will try to cover it all here. 😀 I do have a separate Asana project for personal, family, and business. My business one is visible to our LearnDoBecome team, but my personal and family ones are private to me.
I keep my personal next actions on my bookmark. And then because all my business ones involve the computer, I just work on them when I am doing project work. But the way you set it up in Asana as a separate project for Next Actions is great! As far as migrating tasks from a project to the Next Actions list, I’m not 100% sure. If you click into the task, it shows where it is “housed” right above the description. See if you can switch the project/sub-category there. (You click the “comment bubble” to the right of a task to open up details and sub tasks…)
Eric is a bit more haphazard with STEP. ❤️ He just creates Evernote lists or calendared events as desired.
Regarding syncing, I only push Asana toward Google, so deadlines in Asana show up in my Google calendar. I’m not sure what you’re syncing from Google (tasks?), but pop into the STEP Facebook group with more details on that and the community can help!
With all the projects that come in, it sounds like you are doing a great job capturing the needed information!
Sometimes I write it in my planner (process the note by the next day), or sometimes I email myself the reminder (which also gets processed the next day). As long as you put it in a place you review regularly (like an inbox or email account), then you process it as usual once it is time.
My ideal process is to quickly jot down the project in my planner, and then when I sit at my desk, I put the project on the appropriate list in Asana, and then in the description area, I link to an Evernote that has all the pictures, details, notes, etc.
Then when it’s time to work on it, I immediately have all my notes ready.
I don’t flesh out all the next actions until it’s on my current list. Unless there are unique details I need to record. Hope that helps! Keep up the great work!!
At 25:52 you mention we can break down the tasks into subtasks (that is clear to me), and then you say “you can also break those steps down into steps and then those steps down into steps.”
I am unclear how to do that. Can you share a screenshot of that? Right now I only know:
Asana project: ” projects”
Project section: “current projects”
Task: “sample project 1”
Subtask: “task 1 for sample project 1”
Organizing in this manner (as outlined in your audio) I only have one layer of true tasks (those are called subtasks in asana). Is there a way to further breakdown subtasks?
April Perry says
Yes! Just click the comment/bubble image on the far right of the task, and it unlocks the next level. I put an asterisk by the task name if something is in the description. And if you have multiple subtasks, it will show up as a little icon.