How long did it take for you to get the hang of Asana and learn the ropes?

I’m having a fun time trying to figure out a way to get myself in the habit of knocking out tasks in asana. I some times add a few too many tasks to my tasks which causes me to not do them. Then the tasks drag over to the next day. Which causes a procrastination cycle.

I notice that I have some tasks that are fairly difficult that are just sitting around in my projects. I see them. I just can’t come up with an action plan because they are so subjective and more than 100 different ways to do the task. (Example : create content for social media) I guess I’m being too broad…

Which as the task list grows I start to get into analysis paralysis which only creates more issues.

I’m slowly getting in the habit of using my tasks but organizing within the projects is what is causing me trouble. It’s such a puzzle of a system to prioritize and organize…

Actually what you’re getting at here is a GTD issue, not anything related to learning Asana per se.

Exactly! That’s the root of this particular problem; and don’t feel bad or beat yourself up about it - writing tasks too broadly is perhaps the most common issue I see people have in trying to implement a GTD-type system.

Every single task that you write down in Asana should be a physical action that you can perform in the world. “Create content” is not a physical action. How can you tell? Try to describe that action in terms of what you’d physically do, that would be observable by someone else. There’s no physical activity called “create content”. There are activities like “write Facebook post about building a robot” or “find 5 famous literary quotes re. eating fish”.

It takes a lot of rigor and practice to get to the point where you’re always writing your tasks in these physical-action terms. So give it a go, but also be kind to yourself - you’re likely to make lots of mistakes along the way of writing tasks too broadly!

This is probably the other biggest issue people have with GTD - so again, don’t beat yourself up! Most people I see plan to do too many tasks on their list for “Today”. If you are finding you always have a bunch of tasks left at the end of the day and that’s frustrating you, that’s your sign that you’re being overly ambitious and you should be rigorous about putting less actions on there. But also, this is directly related to the item above about writing your tasks in actionable terms. I would recommend focusing on that first, then see how your daily task list looks and feels.

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Spot on @Phil_Seeman

I think one of the hardest thing to do is getting clear on what the actual task is that you need to do. Being specific enough that it is actionable and can be completed. Whilst still making sure it fits into something bigger and is working to achieving that bigger thing.

A couple of additional suggestions for you @Ethan_Schneider

  • Start with using SubTasks to try and break down the bigger “Broad Task” like “Create Content” and then if you end up have lots of sub tasks you can then use the Create Project Function to make a project out it.
  • Move Dates and put them into Upcoming. So you are cleaning out Today.
  • Use Start Dates and End Dates to give you the time to complete a one or two day tasks.
  • Comments, Comments, Comments will help you to start thinking of how to break down the Broad Tasks. Create new tasks which are actionable often allowing you to close the task you where in.

And as Phil said be kind on yourself…

Jason.

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Great advice from Phil and Jason. Let’s try to break down “Create content”. Action is not flowing from that…your job is to figure out why. Is it because you don’t know what content you want to create? In that case, a first subtask could be “Figure out what content to create”. Maybe action will flow. If not, think of an action to dig deeper, maybe “Clarify goal of my content creation”. Any action item you come up with that is not actionable should spark another round of inquiry. What is your motivation for content creation?

Do you have a message you want to bring to the world? If so, great! I would break the message down into parts and start brainstorming content that supports Part 1. Or maybe your goal is just to fill a page and the actual nature of the content is not of first importance. That’s fine too, I’m not here to judge. In this case, I’d brainstorm categories that are either appropriate (in your eyes) or of interest to you or easy to create content on (to you). Then choose one - say, making money through love for armadillos and other armored creatures. Then ask, do I have every thing I need to get started? Info, context, a “hook”, whatever else I need? If not, your action will be to get what you need to get started. “Research armadillo husbandry.”

Etc. etc. Keep breaking things down until you get to an action that makes you say, “I can do that!” Good luck!

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As a best practice, that “Research armadillo husbandry” task should be multi-homed to the “Armored Creature Husbandry” project. (That’s the only addition I can make to @Stephanie_Oberg’s great reply.)

Helpfully,

Larry

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We started using Asana 1 year ago. It has been a hard road to figure out how best to use it. We tried to set a way for everyone to use it and then realized different departments work differently. We originally were focused on looking at the Project View and not the task view. It has been painful! We are all starting to get the hang of how it works best for each dept. We have a long ways to go in getting all our yearly repetitive tasks documented. We learned NOT to use reoccuring tasks because the moment you repeat them they regenerate. People kept getting confused and they would mark them complete over and over! We are not using subtasks because they don’t show up on the calendar view etc. We moved everything into tasks. We use the comments to keep track of where we are with things in addition to custom tags that tell whether we are on schedule, behind schedule or not started. Bottom line, it takes awhile to figure out what works for you!

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You’ve gotten good comments about breaking things down into small, easy tasks. I would add to look for repeating tasks. Is creating content for social media something you need to do on a weekly/monthly basis? If so, once you’ve hammered out the small tasks, set them to repeat. Use the notes section of the task to include needed links or other details. The idea is that when you see that repeating task, you’ve set it up as so easy you can’t wait to jump in.

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Agreed on all these tips - all good stuff. As you can tell, there’s a lot of different practices and I recommend just TRYing things. And really try it - if using a wildly different method, give it a good 2 weeks to see how it works out.

The only thing I’ll add is my own personal experience. I’ve used Asana for several years and basically use it to manage everything I do. I’m fanatical about due dates, and would then work on My Tasks sorting by Due Date (did not use the “today”, “upcoming”, “later” sections). When it would get challenging is when I’d miss a Task and it would turn red meaning overdue. Then I’d miss another one. These would be Tasks that could be done anytime but I put a due date on it to get it done. Slowly these would pile up.

A few weeks ago I learned a technique from a co-worker, which is I primarily view My Tasks in calendar mode, and every single morning I make sure that no Incomplete Tasks are due in the past. If they are, I look at today and this week, maybe next week, and drag it to the day I feel I will do it. For me, personally, it is a vastly better way to manage my workload. I’m able to keep today organized, have a handle on tomorrow already, see the day after… I can keep Tasks off days that are meeting heavy, etc. It keeps Tasks out in front of me, too… rather than piling up in the past where they weren’t getting done. In the screenshot you can see most tasks for today, and those I don’t get to will move throughout this week. There was a training day 2 weeks ago which is why no Tasks show there.

Might not be a fit for everyone, but it has been the biggest change to how I use Asana and I love it.

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My 2-cents: I always encourage our new users to only focus on “My Tasks” and not even worry about looking at Projects. Because what happens is they get lost in Projects and can’t find what Tasks in a Project are theirs… if everyone in the Org is assigning Tasks diligently, then My Tasks pulls that all together for each user.

I explained it this way in another post here in the Forum a year ago:
In our training I explain the My Tasks / Projects this way: are you here to “do work” or are you here as a manager, to “give oversight.” And I don’t mean what their title is, I mean at any time when they open Asana are they coming here to get stuff done, or because they’re a manager and need to get a sense of the progress in an area. IF it’s time to get work done then they need to go to My Tasks. IF they’re managing, giving oversight, checking-in, then they want a Project view. That’s the best way I’ve found to explain it that makes sense to our team.

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Another possible task would be something like “Schedule coffee date with ______ to discuss my ideas on marketing.” “____” would be someone you trust to be brutally honest with you. I think we sometimes get locked into the attitude that we can alone can and must figure out how to achieve every project we dream up and our tasks reflect that. Gotta get outta that trap and get a fresh pair of eyes and ears.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” - Albert Einstein

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Agree totally Brian.

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