How we use Asana

Sara Himeles, Joey Dello Russo, and Jerry Sparks

We love to push the boundaries of what Asana can do. From creating meeting agendas to tracking bugs to maintaining snacks in the refrigerator, the Asana product is (unsurprisingly) integral to everything we do at Asana. We find many customers are also pushing the boundaries of Asana to fit their teams’ needs and processes. Since Asana was created to be flexible and powerful enough for every team, nothing makes us more excited than hearing about these unique use cases.

Recently, we invited some of our Bay Area-based customers to our San Francisco HQ to share best practices with one another and hear from our cofounder Justin Rosenstein about the ways we use Asana at Asana. We’re excited to pass on this knowledge through some video highlights from the event. You can watch the entire video here.

Capture steps in a Project
“The first thing we always do is create a Project that names what we’re trying to accomplish. Then we’ll get together as a team and think of, ‘What is every single thing we need to accomplish between now and the completion of that Project?’ Over the course of the Project, all of the Tasks end up getting assigned.”

Organize yourself
“Typically when I start my day, I’ll start by looking at all the things that are assigned to me. I’ll choose a few that I want to work on today. I try to be as realistic as possible, which means adding half as many things as I am tempted to add. After putting those into my ‘Today’ view, there are often a couple of other things I need to do. I just hit enter and add a few more tasks.”

Forward emails to Asana
“Because I want Asana to be the source of truth for everything I do, I want to put emails into my task list and prioritize them. I’ll just take the email and forward it to x@mail.asana.com. We chose ‘x’ so it wouldn’t conflict with anything else in your address book. Once I send that, it will show up in Asana with the attachments and everything right intact.”

Run great meetings
“We maintain one Project per meeting. If I’m looking at my Task list and see a Task I want to discuss at the meeting, I’ll just use Quick Add (tab + Q) to put the Task into the correct Project. Then when the meeting comes around, everything that everyone wants to talk about has already been constructed ahead of time.”

Track responsibility
“Often a problem comes up and someone asks, ‘Who’s responsible for that?’ So instead, we’ve built out a list of areas of responsibility (AoRs), which is all the things that someone at the company has to be responsible for. By having AoRs, we distribute responsibility. We can allow managers to focus on things that are more specific to management and empower everyone at the company to be a leader in their own field.”

By sharing best practices across organizations, we can increase the collective output of every team. So, please share your team’s best practices in the comments!

  1. avatarZachary Reese

    I’m in love with the sections feature for workspaces. I have three phases that I stick everything into: Ideas, In Progress and Approved. It lets me keep everything easily prioritized without having projects overwhelmed by ideas that still need a lot of logistic work.

      1. avatarStephan

        I agree – It would by nice to have completed tasks remain in their sections. Don’t mind them popping to the top in the My Tasks view, but within a project ts is a bit of a schlep. Perhaps completed tasks should just move to the bottom of a section, until you archive them? Does anyone have any other ideas?

        1. avatarRich

          I agree. What if creating a section also created a tag and tasks added under that section were automatically assigned that tag? Then we could use show archived tasks and filter by the tag to see both completed and uncompleted at any time. Still probably too cumbersome, though.

      2. avatarBrice

        I have the same issue. My Projects typically have multiple Sections with many Tasks in each Section. I get a lot of value from “checking in” and looking over my nicely organized Project’s Tasks and I too, strongly prefer that these Tasks retain their position within their respective Section once they are market complete. That is, they would keep their position relative to other Tasks within a Section (e.g. if is the example task was positioned as #5 of 9, that is not move to the top of the Section once it is marked complete). I’m sure other users have different preferences, but for me, when I look at the set of completed Tasks at the top of a Project, it always takes me a while to remember which Section it came from — not an efficient use of my time.

        Thanks for video (these are great) and keep up the good work.

        1. avatarN

          +1 I would also prefer that completed tasks stay put until I archived them. Possibly have a feature in settings where you can choose if a completed task stays put or goes to the top.

          whenthe completed tasks get out of line on large or detailed tasks I often have to scrool up to check the completed tasks because I feel llike I might have missed something when I made the list. Also for lists that I check off but reuse often, having completed tasks stay put to be checked and cleared is preferable to having a series of template projects. I have too many projects as it is.

      3. avatarEmili

        +1 Right now this feature, as simple as it seems, is what’s keeping me from using Asana. I find it very useful to keep all my completed tasks & bugs together so I can include them in my next deployment easily. Otherwise I have to use tags or other tools, but that just makes things messier in my opinion.

          1. avatarAnonymous

            +1, tasks should retain their section identity once it gets completed. No need to mess all completed tasks together. Hope that someone inside asana is listening.

      4. avatarSteve

        I also agree, this is always a fundamental concern for me in the use of Asana, it does not maintain a true record of where all tasks were. When reviewing things that have happened you can not be sure how it was categorised or organised.

    1. avatarDan Powers

      Hi Zachary,
      I would love to hear your process flow of ideas. Would you be willing to share any best tips?
      Dan

  2. avatarLubomir

    An alternative to forwarding to Asana for Gmail/Chrome users is to use Asana Chrome extension – the advantage is that a direct link to the e-mail is saved and it’s easy to go back to e-mail with one click and reply it/forward it/whatever you want. I personally use both: if it’s just a informative longer e-mail or some project related info I forward the e-mail to Asana, if it’s an e-mail requiring a reply I use extension to “bookmark it” in Asana.

    1. avatarAaron

      Is there any way to specify the project in the extension when creating a new task? Without it, I find the extension not useful enough to use.

      1. avatarSara Himeles Asana Team Member

        Hi Aaron, currently you can only specify the Workspace and Assignee. Once the task gets added, you can add it to a project. Thanks for the feedback, we’ll add it to our list of suggested features!

  3. avatarHans

    Great full length overview video. The more use cases we can get as examples the better. The ways to use Asana seems to have few limits.

    1. avatarManuel

      agree with Hans. It adds also an interesting perspective into team culture and responsibilities, as well as other company processes. cheers

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  5. avatarPaulo Figueiredo

    Great Stuff and I am so happy that I have this tool with me where ever I go

    May I suggest something. It would be really cool if we could have a matrix based on GREEN YELLOW & RED dot on the tats to indicate how many days still left for completion and a numerical count down would be good to display some where on the screen….

    Hope you see utility in this hint Regards PF

  6. avatarGeorge

    It’s actually really fun to play all these videos at the same time. It’s like Justin Rosenstein mega overload or Nirvana…which ever you prefer. All jokes aside, these are really helpful. Nice to see how others use Asana in video format.

  7. avatarManu

    Love asana… Little suggestion though, i have many many tasks where i have subtasks within subtasks, within subtasks. It would be nice if there were a way to know when looking at the subtask if there are other tasks in that subtask. Haha does that make sense?

    1. avatarMatthew Brender (@mjbrender)

      I know what you mean Manu. I realize from these videos I use Tasks like the team uses Projects, which leads to many subtasks.

      Option one, change how I use it. Option two, make subtasks easier to manage.

    2. avatarSara Himeles Asana Team Member

      Makes sense. There’s currently a bubble icon that becomes bold when a Subtask has details, but it’s not a specific indicator for other Subtasks. Our User Operations team can discuss further if you contact them at asana.com/support.

  8. avatarBruce A. Ulrich

    Thanks for sharing these videos! They really give me a lot of ideas on how to be more productive and organized. I really liked the AoR’s

  9. avatarAndrzej

    I wish I had a way of setting the same task to many people at once. Example: 20+ people are required to pass a web training, they have a deadline. How to set this without manual copying?

    1. avatarKarel

      In the real world one person can be accountable (Assignee) but more than one person can be responsible for a task – asana lacks this capability. Any suggestions? Followers does not meet this need.

  10. avatarJack

    Wow Justin and the team are doing a great job with Asana, you can tell they have a great thought process from the way he talks about new features. It seems like they think about every detail before adding a new feature, keep up the good work.

    This article will help me make Asana even more useful.

  11. avatarOliver

    I love the quick add feature (TAB + Q). I would love it more if I could choose Project & Sections (maybe I am missing something, because right now I click on the pop up box in the bottom left corner right after “quick adding” something so I can assign it to the right section.

  12. avatarChad Wight

    I like what you guys are doing here. I’m curious what your product pitch is when comparing the solution to Confluence/JIRA. Perhaps Asana is a more lightweight tool, that perhaps has a bit of a lower barrier to entry for those teams not requiring customized workflow integration?

    Is there a social business layer to Asana?

    Thanks!

    1. avatarCaitlin Asana Team Member

      Hey, Chad. Thanks for the great question. Asana was created for every team in a company, which is a key difference. Asana enables you to communicate within your team, within your company, and even with teams outside of your organization. Paying teams can manage what other colleagues, companies, & customers see. For example, they can be invited to see a task, a project, or everything within your Organization.

      In terms of workflow….Asana is extremely flexible and can be customized for every workflow, from simple to complex. Internally, we use Asana as our bug tracker; however, Asana can also be integrated with a more robust bug-tracking tool. Using Zapier, we are integrated with JIRA so users can automatically create Asana tasks from JIRA issues and vice versa. https://asana.com/apps/jira

  13. avatarSy

    The main feature I see still missing is “Filtering of Archived Completed Tasks”. We have to do a lot of monthly, periodic and annual reporting. When using Asana as much as we do, the archive of completed tasks is immensely long, so going back through and picking out what you’ve done in a given time period is really difficult. What is needed is to filter tasks by “date completed” or something in general to better facilitate “reporting” of work done.

  14. avatarAndreja

    We are small law office from Serbia and we use asana for work with companies. We used Projects as company task section and put all task for that company in company project. Also, we use section to organize task for one company by areas (hr, contracts, commercial, court cases…).
    Asana give us more productivity and with asana we are far more organized.
    We are in the process to find th best way to use asana “on the field”, when we are in those companies, court, in the car, on the seminar….

    1. avatarDragan Ruzic

      Great to see that Asana is being used well in Serbia, I’m a fellow countryman living in Sweden, so “hi” in the first place and a Happy New Year.
      I’m still experimenting to either do like you guys organise customer firms as projects, or to make the middle section – tasks to be my customers list/projects and then use subtasks as ToDos with those customers.
      I’m a musician conducting guitar retreats and if I have some 70 people interested and want to list them somehow, they’re just too many to put in the Projects section I guess. I’ve started that way and it was lots of scrolling involved.

      Anyway, I’ve enjoyed checking out all these videos and I’m more than convinced that Asana is my best choice for collaborative task management. For my other projects and individual task stuff I’ll be staying with Omni Focus.

      Cheers all!

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  16. avatarRhys

    Using Asana for meetings is brilliant. However, how do you take minutes?
    Is there a way to integrate with Evernote so that minutes/actions can be captured and recorded, while actions are followed up in Asana?

    1. avatarDouglas

      Hello!

      What I did for this request is in evernote I email in the note to my asana. I use X+ID@asana.com which is a generic tasks I set up for my self. I then move the email to the project as a task or a subtask (if the task is not unique to an overall project). I then can create an action items task with the sub tasks and just quickly check them off.

      That has greatly helped me use evernote and asana without any challenge,

      Douglas

  17. avatarDennis

    Hi,
    Noob here my pre apologies.
    I am very new to this Asana, How do I set a task for all team members that is due every week on the same day(Monday)?
    When I assign task I can only seem to assign myself.

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  20. avatarTracie

    Hi
    Pretty new to Asana, but loving it, don’t have a clue about bugs? and tracking? or anything else techi’ but we are a social enterprise (I think you call them non-profits in America) based in an extremely deprived neighbourhood in Northern England. We are currently bringing a run down park back into productive management to offer a wider range of social benefits, this involves renovations, new builds, community consultations, surveys, funding applications, fundraising business plans and everything else involved with community development issues. Asana is basically dealing with it all. there is a core team of 5 of us and you have literally become our office, our ideas platform, meeting room and project designer keeping everything in one place, now if you can also get Asana to make coffee………. all in all brilliant programme cheers:-)

  21. avatarFernando

    Hi, I’m pretty new to Asana but already introduced all my current projects & plan to kickoff tomorrow! There’s something I can’t find yet: Is there a way to print a summary of all projects + tasks?

  22. avatarMario

    Dear Sirs,

    I am trying Asana and I would suggest to create, beside due dates, the chance to create also due time (hours), and so to allow recurrence in task and sub-tasks.

    Thank you.

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  24. avatarHayden

    Hello Does Asana have a function where I can create a template to use the same set of tasks for a set of projects without entering them in again each time I do a similar project. For example I run graduation events which have 170 tasks and these tasks are roughly the same every time. Is there a way I can enter them once and reuse the list of tasks the following project/year and the year after. This would be very useful to have a template that I could just change a few items rather than typing everything in again and again.

    Cheers

  25. avatarthan

    Was testing asana to see how useful it is. The issue I found problematic is the feature allowing team members to delete tasks assigned.
    Is there a way to prevent this?
    regards

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  27. avatarRena Massis

    I am a first time Asana user. Trying to set up a group project with three other people. My questions are: 1) Does the application need to be used together with Google chrome or is it supported by Internet explorer as well? 2) Must it be linked to a gmail account? We are still in the set up process.

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