Newbie stuck right after starting on projects/workspaces

projects

#1

After reading many reviews, I decided on Asana and just signed up. Several reviews warned that there was a steep learning curve, but after logging in and creating a projects, I thought it was a breeze.

I was wrong.

I figured out how to organize my tasks into sections – one section for each component of my project. But the components are interrelated and related tasks across the sections have to be completed in groups, so I went looking for a way to further organize tasks. I found tags as one option and spent the next 15 minutes trying to figure out where tags are that place after place says is available in the basic account.

I learned that tags aren’t available in personal projects. So I had to figure out whether I was in a personal project. That took a bit of googling and several minutes of exploring my account. I finally figured out that I’m in a personal project. In the process I learned that there are also workspaces and organizations. (And that I can use projects to emulate tags, which I might do for this particular problem.)

Now I’m realizing that there’s different functionality for personal projects, workspaces, and organizations. Asana automatically placed me in personal projects and that’s where I entered my tasks. I wasn’t told that I needed to figure out what was best for me rather than click the “New Project” button Asana puts in front of me.

So then I went searching for how to convert a personal project to a workspace or organization, should I need to do that either for functionality or when I eventually have more users. Ten minutes later, I have no clear answer, but there appears to be a 3rd party app for doing so. Apparently in my first day of trying to use Asana I’ve put myself in a situation where I may have to recover by using a 3rd party app. (But I’m not so far along that it wouldn’t be easier to simply retype everything or copy-and-paste everything to recover.)

I’m still not sure whether I’ll need personal projects, organizations, or workspaces. But I am now having second thoughts about proceeding with Asana and getting myself further into a mess. If there are alternatives and their choice is significant, you need to present them to me before I commit myself to one. A simple on-boarding wizard would do the trick. Leaving me to discover and attempt to correct after the fact is unfriendly. How much of this user interface is like that?


#2

I attempted to end the above rant with an end-of-vent end tag, to light things up a bit, but it got deleted:

/vent


#3

I just realized that my account is several years old, that an employee had helped me create it back then and she had created a workspace – which I just discovered. So maybe there was an on-boarding process at the time and my particular circumstances left me with an account but not knowing how to properly use it.


#4

Hi @Joe_Lapp,

You’ve discovered, the hard way unfortunately, that you don’t want to use Personal Projects, as it has many limitations, some of which you’ve discovered.

In fact, they’ve been deprecated by Asana and newly-created accounts don’t even have them any more. Your account no doubt had one because it was actually a few years old.

So, yes, you do want to move all of your data over to a regular workspace. If as you say it’s not too painful to retype and/or copy-paste, I would personally recommend that. While you could theoretically use a 3rd party utility, that in itself will take learning, experimenting, etc. and so I’d lean to just doing it manually.

I personally don’t find Asana too hard to grasp or learn, others may feel differently. One thing you will find is that there’s a really strong and supportive community here in the forum to help you along the way.


#5

Hi @Joe_Lapp, I’ll echo all of what @Phil_Seeman wrote, and sympathize with you: you’ve really been through the wringer. Everything you write is valid, but I think, as Phil wrote, a (truly) new user would not run into this. Asana has concentrated on this with a First Experience team, I believe, and there’s a lot of nice onboarding help present that I think you didn’t have the benefit of seeing.

I think you’ve seen the worst! Press on and it should be much smoother sailing. There’s a lot of help at asana.com/guide as well as here.

https://kothar.net/organise_asana is not so hard to use; consider a quick try there if you would otherwise have a lot of retyping.


#6

Thank you both for your help! It’s pretty easy to switch things over by hand.

I did hit another minor bump. I tried to reorder my sections, but after dragging a few section titles around, I realized that I had just lost my task partitioning. They aren’t really sections, just section headers. I was able to recover my partitioning without much trouble. I realize now that you have to select the section header and its tasks to drag a “section” around.

I’m also having trouble thinking of how to divide my project into projects and sections. I’m developing multiple programs that depend on one another, such as a multi-platform library, a testing/feedback prototype, a real-time test harness, log analysis tools, a tutorial/training app, and an example application. Adding a new feature usually entails creating tasks for each of these programs.

And I have multiple such projects of multiple components.

I’d like to be able to plan by feature, partition that feature into tasks, and allot each task to a component. I’d like to sort these features by implementation priority, suggesting that they themselves should form a list.

I’m seeing the following options:

  1. Use Asana tasks as features, divide them into subtasks, have each subtask reference (in text) the component requiring modification. Everything is under one massive project, and I can’t see which tasks remain for any given component.
  2. Use Asana sections as features, which I divide into tasks. Label each task by the component to which it pertains. Delete sections as I complete their associated features. Everything is still under one massive project, and I don’t have a record of features completed, along with their tasks (“sections” don’t logically contain their tasks).
  3. Use Asana projects as features, which I divide into tasks. Label each task by the component to which it pertains. Archive projects as I complete their associated features. This approach doesn’t seem to allow me to order features by priority.
  4. Use some Asana projects as components and some as features. Color component and feature projects differently. Divide each feature project into tasks, assigning each task to its component project. I can then visit a component project to see its pending tasks. Archive feature projects as I complete the features. This approach doesn’t seem to allow me to order features by priority.

I’m wondering if I need some other task management tool or perhaps a hybrid of tools.


#7

Sections are on Asana’s roadmap to operate in the way you had expected.

A specific answer to how to set up your work is beyond what I can do in this forum (I, and others, offer consulting; see my profile by clicking my name/image). But, some thoughts:

  • How many will be doing this work, or just you?
  • Do you have Asana Premium? I’d recommend it for features that might help in your case, in particular Custom Fields and Advanced Search/Reports, and maybe Timeline and Task Dependencies
  • A forum search might lead to helpful info, for example, this is a good post: Do you use Asana to Manage Software Development?
  • I’d favor an Organization over Workspaces
  • Lists over Boards
  • Subtasks are useful to break down work and allow progressive disclosure, so long as you are careful not to misuse them (others are more wary of subtasks than me)
  • You want to see things from multiple angles so features like multi-homing tasks to multiple projects, custom fields, tags, advanced search all can help (like for your Priority example)
  • You’ll have to decide what level of detail you want to track overall
  • You may want to experiment with a small pilot of some tiny chunk of work or simulation to verify your approach before entering everything; make sure it works
  • I don’t know of a better tool than Asana for what you’re trying to do, though that doesn’t mean it might not take you a couple attempts to find the right solution in Asana!

#8

Thank you so much! Your links have led to links, and I’m getting a better idea of the possibilities. Your tips also have me exploring options.

I’m simultaneously exploring Pivotal Tracker. So far, I haven’t figured out how to use either quite the way I seem to need. But Asana is the more flexible tool, so I’m still hoping to find a way to max Asana work.

Yes, it looks like I’ll need to upgrade to premium. I occasionally hire contractors to help with specific jobs, but otherwise it’s just me for now.

Okay, back to experimenting and exploring…


#9

*“make” not “max.” I don’t see a way to edit comments.


#10

You can’t edit your comments till you “graduate” on the forum (which seems a bit silly, but we all went through it)

As for your problems, they can pretty much all be fixed with a premium account. You’re looking for premium features and they exist but it costs money. Having said that, it’s well worth it. As stated above, custom fields and custom reports mixed in with using some tasks as information holders and multihoming them between lists. This allows some tasks to have custom fields that other tasks do not and live on the same list. It also allows for you to have an overall project board where you can move “tasks” around that represent the projects themselves between different phases.

As @lpb stated, some of us are “warry” of subtasks. As for me, subtasks are terrible and should almost never be used. All the benefits of tasks are just about stripped away from subtasks and they are hidden a lot of the time. You can MAKE them work… but why. I do personally use subtasks for the simple purpose of hiding tasks in my template and bringing them out as needed.


#11

Thanks for the multiple explanations!

I’m currently trying to make Pivotal Tracker work. I’m not having to invent a process and implement in manually, as I would here on Asana. Maybe once I get tired of being forced to do things a particular way, I’ll want to return to Asana to do things my way.

It seems there are pros and cons no matter what I choose.