Asana: Pursuing Mindfulness
September 25, 2014
Some days, I am blown away at the number of web tools available to accomplish a multitude of tasks. Great examples of these include Aviary, an online photo editing suite, Draw.io, a diagramming application with Google Drive integration (as mentioned in an earlier post), and Prezi, an awesome presentation solution. Today, we’ll take a look at Asana, a web application designed to allow individuals and teams manage projects and tasks without relying on constantly emailing each other details.
Asana officially broke out of its beta shell in 2011 and is currently used by companies such as Dropbox and Pinterest. The applications allows users to track one or many projects, define a set of tasks for those projects, hold and manage conversations about those tasks, and assign task ownership. Their tagline reads, “Teamwork without email.” Having used the app, I can attest that they’ve made large strides in delivering on that motto.
To use Asana, sign up for a new account and step through the walk-through designed for new users. Afterwards, you’ll be dropped into the main interface.
This interface provides a compact view of your Projects (1), the current Tasks – in this case showing all Tasks in the default workspace – (2), filter options for the Task list (3) and a quick bar for easy access to common features as well as the shortcut key reminders for those features (4).
All Tasks live within a Workspace, which is a collection of People, Projects, and Tasks within the Asana ecosystem. New accounts come with a default Workspace, labeled “Home”, which along with all of your Workspaces, can be accessed with the following dropdown menu:
Adding a new Task is easy as pie. Simply click on the next available row in the Task list and begin typing what will become the title of the new Task. Alternatively, you can press the Tab+Q shortcut combination to bring up the add Task dialog, which allows for more granular definition. Even when adding Task titles directly in the grid, you can still go back and alter the task details as needed.
Once you’ve entered a few Tasks, using simple drag&drop, you can easily re-order the tasks and define categories within the list. “Category” tasks are defined by adding a colon “:” character at the end of the title. Fundamentally, they’re the same as any other Task, but this tag provides a nice visual delineation.
The arrow icon which appears to the far right of the chosen Task provides access to the Task details pane. It can also be accessed by simply pressing the Tab key.
Within this view, we can define which Project the Task should reside in, alter its title and description, and insert a comment chain for project collaborators. Comments that include @usernames will add them to the designated users Workspaces. Note: this may trigger an email to the user, a seemingly counter-intuitive feature, but likely a necessity for optimum functionality.
Other features made available within this view include…
Assign the user responsible;
Assign a Due Date;
Create subtasks, which can later be promoted to regular tasks, if needed;
Regular tasks can also become subtasks using the same drag & drop feature for sorting.
Assign one or more tags, for searching and categorization of tasks;
Favorite the task to show your support for the feature;
Attach relevant files;
Alter the task permissions, when working in a group environment
In looking at my schedule, we can see that I have my work cut out for me. However, the system makes managing it pretty simple. It features friendly nomenclature for upcoming due dates, keeps all my deployment-related tasks nicely grouped together, and shows the categorization I feel suits these Tasks well (using the tagging system).
Asana is a great tool which has grown in functionality, yet still remains simple to use. The designers are keenly aware of user needs. They’ve built an easy to use interface while still allowing for some of the fundamental features that a task management solution must have. You can keep up to date on Asana news at their blog: http://blog.asana.com. There are several web-based task management solutions, and we’d love to hear your experience with Asana. Let us know @GeekHive!
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