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It's easy to spend a solid portion of your work day going back and forth on email, writing messages with progress reports, asking people to take care of this or that, forwarding emails to people left off the chain. Time spent in email is time not spent on real work. Asana is a work-management app that changes the way people collaborate. You can use it as a simple to-do list, or as workflow-management tool, or as project management software. How you choose to implement Asana is up to you. The app lets you and your colleagues track work that needs to get done, see what everyone on the team is assigned to do, view the status of projects or ongoing work at a glance, and communicate with one another. All the information about the work itself is in one place.
Because Asana is highly customizable, you can bend it to fit your team's needs. To start, you set up an organization, the top level grouping. Next, you build teams, so that specific groups of people can focus on the work that's most pertinent to them. From there, each team sets up projects, which can be projects in the traditional sense (work with a set begin date, end date, and deliverable, such as building a house) or ongoing work, such as maintaining a company website. Alternatively, a project might be nothing more than a list, such as ideas your team brainstorms or supplies you need to keep stocked. Asana's flexibility puts few limits on what you can do with projects.
Asana has a wealth of tools and features for managing quite complex projects. For example, you can use Sections to visually break up long lists of tasks and put them into relevant groups. You can also create subtasks within tasks to keep track of work that contains multiple steps. Every task and subtask can have a due date, assignee, followers (people who want alerts about changes and updates made to the task) description, comments, and attached files. You can also track time spent completing a task. All important data and communication about the task appears directly on it, so you never have to track down related information from an email.
In 2018, Asana added Gantt chart views, a handy way see a project that's in progress on a timeline. The app also offers a Board option for managing work using a kanban methodology.
While Asana offers collaborative features for managing work together, you can also create private projects for keeping your own hidden to-do list or other information.
To more easily manage work or projects that recur, you can build templates. For example, if you do the same six tasks every time you sign a new client or always follow a particular workflow when building a house, having templates lets you get to the work itself faster.
Another way Asana shows its flexibility is in how it lets you collaborate with anyone. You can easily create an account that allows everyone with the same email address domain to join, but you can also invite contractors and other collaborators who are not in your organization to participate. With Asana, you can give guests access to entire projects or only specific tasks.
Different views in Asana help you focus on the work you need to see. My Tasks shows all tasks that are assigned to you, breaking down the information into what's due today, what's due this week, and what's due later (Today, Upcoming, Later). A Calendar view provides another way to see tasks by due date. You can see a Calendar of your own tasks or a Team Calendar, showing all tasks assigned with due dates across all team members. Another view, called My Inbox lists new activity on all the tasks assigned to you or that you follow.
A dashboard in Asana automatically tracks the status of each project. It shows a progress chart of completed versus outstanding tasks for whichever project you choose. Project owners can add additional information, such as a brief overview and a status to indicate if the project is on track, at risk or falling behind schedule, or in need of attention.
While Asana offers a free, limited account, organizations can upgrade to a paid account to get the ability to make certain projects and teams private, open up guest access to an unlimited number of individuals, add more dashboard functionality, and centralize user administration and billing. Asana also integrates with a number of third-party apps that extend its capabilities through add-ons.
Asana is available on the web, iOS, and Android. With its flexibility and customization options, it's an excellent productivity tool for teams that need to centralize their work and more easily manage it.