Category Archives: Best Practices

How Udacity uses Asana to empower people through education

Kelsey Aroian and Joey Dello Russo

Udacity was born out of a Stanford University experiment in which Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig offered their "Introduction to Artificial Intelligence" course online to anyone, for free. Now Udacity is a growing team of educators and engineers on a mission to change the future of education by bridging the gap between real-world skills, relevant education, and employment.

A new way of delivering education
Jennie Kim is a Program Manager at Udacity and runs their partnership with Georgia Tech.
Jennie Kim - Udacity Program Manager
I joined Udacity because I believe in empowering people through education, and so does Udacity. At Udacity, we’re focused on providing high quality education at scale to students anywhere in the world.
Stuart Frye leads Business Development at Udacity.
Stuart Frye - Udacity Business Development
There’s a white space in accessible and relevant education. Udacity aims to close that skills gap by offering free classes and affordable support for a fraction of what it costs to receive a traditional education.
Jennie Kim - Udacity Program Manager
In the beginning, our team had an opportunity to fundamentally rethink how online courses were put together. A web browser can now be a very engaging and interactive classroom.
Stuart Frye - Udacity Business Development
Creating a new way of delivering education was a big undertaking. While creating the first courses, spreadsheets and documents got unwieldy and inboxes overflowed. As we grew our courses, our system at Udacity was like a shaky house—you knew it wasn’t going to last much longer. To help us achieve our mission, we needed something we could depend on, a system and process that would allow us to deliver these classes in a greater capacity. We realized Asana could be the solution we were looking for.
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Task descriptions & comments just got rich

S. Alex Smith

When tasks have context, teams have clarity. When teams have clarity, they can move efficiently and effectively. Task descriptions and comments give teammates context and keep all necessary information and conversations side by side with your work. We just gave these features some polish: you can now add rich text and formatting to any task description or comment!

At Asana, we use task descriptions to take notes during meetings, add guidelines or goals to tasks we’ve assigned teammates, and create brief text “documents,” without needing another app. We use comments to discuss tasks with teammates, and keep the conversation with the work that needs to get done. Rich text makes it easier to structure ideas, highlight important items, and keep teammates up to speed with a quick scan of the task.

rich text shortcuts

Currently, you can add rich text and formatting using keyboard shortcuts, but we will be adding formatting buttons to the task pane in the near future.

To add rich text, use common keyboard shortcuts (replace cmd with ctrl on Windows):

  • cmd+b for bold
  • cmd+u for underline
  • cmd+i for italics

To add formatting, use these keyboard shortcuts (replace cmd with ctrl on Windows):

  • Numbered lists, cmd+shift+7
  • Indented and outdented numbered lists, cmd+] and  cmd+[
  • Bulleted lists, cmd+shift+8
  • Monospace font, cmd+shift+m

Rich text keyboard shortcuts are a new and useful addition to our lineup of keyboard shortcuts that help you work more efficiently in Asana. Our favorite shortcuts include tab+q to quickly add a task, tab+y to mark a task for today, and tab+x to enter focus mode (especially useful for taking notes in a task description during a meeting or when writing long-form notes).

Let us know what other “polish” features you’d like to see in the comments — our Episode 11 polish week is coming up this summer.

Stop wasting time: 4 steps to take back your day

Jackie Bavaro

We all have more work to do than we can actually get done. It takes some practice to master the art of spending your time productively on the right things, in a satisfying way.

As a product manager, I learned early on how important it is to purposefully choose how I spend my hours and days. I work closely with engineers and designers who depend on me for prompt feedback. If I’m not responsive, the team slows down or stops asking my advice on decisions. On the other hand, it’s easy to get caught up in reactive work and forget to put aside time for more strategic planning.

Stop wasting time: 4 steps to take back your day

I recently gave a talk to my teammates about the steps they can take to manage their time better, and thought I’d share the highlights here.

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Do great things: A talk at TechCrunch Disrupt

Justin Rosenstein

On May 5, I will be speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt NY on using technology to help humanity thrive. I hope some of you will be able to attend, either in person or via livestream. After the conference, we’ll share the full video in this post.

As technologists, we have greater capacity to change the world today than the kings and presidents of just 100 years ago.

Incredibly, we can now design the world we want to live in, and have the engineering skill to make even global-scale designs a reality. As designers, engineers, and technology leaders, we are a tiny portion of humanity, yet we hold an astoundingly leveraged ability to affect all of it.

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wufoo_animated

Wufoo & Asana: Connect forms to your tasks

Justin Krause and Kelsey Aroian

The process of collecting structured information–from users needing support, partners requesting to work with you, candidates applying to a job, and even from teams within your company–is often tedious and difficult to manage. We wanted a simpler way to get this information into Asana, with the rest of our work and communication. So, we decided to build an integration using our API, with our favorite tool for building beautiful custom forms, Wufoo.

With Wufoo and Asana, data you collect through web forms becomes actionable. With little work on your end and without any coding required, you can gather custom information that feeds directly into Asana tasks. Then you can add assignees, followers, due dates, and attachments, and connect data with other relevant Asana tasks and projects.
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The NEW Asana Guide

Emily Kramer, Jim Renaud, and Justin Krause

We’ve launched an all-new version of the Asana Guide, where we post content to help teams get the most out of Asana. If you’re already familiar with the Guide, you’ll love the new version even more – lots of new articles and videos are waiting for you. If you haven’t seen the Guide before, you need to check it out now – it’s the best support we can provide to your team.

guide-cafe

Here are a few reasons why we think you and your team will love it (we could have come up with 50 reasons, but we think you’ll get more benefit out of visiting the Guide than reading 50 reasons why you should visit it):

1. All new content and design

New articles, new videos, new images, and a new design. We’ve made it easier to discover new Asana content, while keeping a relaxing reading experience.
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pastel shirts and projects

Asana features we can’t live without (part deux)

Kelsey Aroian

Last week, we shared seven features that make our work day just a little bit sweeter here at Asana HQ. From secret projects to a trick that might raise your IQ, we’re back again to share another round of Asana features we can’t live without! Make sure to tell us about your favorite features in the comments.

Colored tags – Justin K, Marketing
I love colored tags because I look good in pastels…and so do my projects.

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Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 10.22.08 PM

Asana features we can’t live without

Kelsey Aroian

We think it’s the details, like adding a task to multiple projects or having kittens rain on your workspace, that make communicating in Asana so magical. Discovering hidden functionality can inspire a personal productivity hack or add a new level of delight in day-to-day communication. Since we geek out over product details as much as you do, we thought we’d share some essential Asana features that our team just can’t live without.

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The best advice I have for leaders and teams

Justin Rosenstein

Recently I spoke at Chicago Ideas Week, where I distilled some of the best advice I have after ten years of studying and leading teams. We’re excited to share the video.

The first half of the talk is about the purpose of work, and how I’ve found a deep sense of personal satisfaction from doing work in service of helping humanity thrive. The second half (starting at 7:10) provides three concrete strategies, which I’ve found make teams wildly more effective in accomplishing their goals – all by achieving clarity. I hope you enjoy it.

5 powerful tactics we use to achieve great teamwork

Sara Himeles and Joey Dello Russo

Earlier this year, our co-founder Justin gave a talk about Asana’s values and practices as part of Stanford’s “Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders” series. Following the positive feedback on our recent video post on the Asana way, we wanted to share a few excerpts from Justin’s talk more broadly.

These videos highlight the values and cultural practices that have led to great teamwork at Asana. We hope a few of the ideas resonate and you can adapt them for your own team. If you enjoy the videos below, you can check out the complete talk.

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