Do you ever wish you had six arms?
You could jot down task reminders, fill out your calendar, chat with writers and editors, edit web content and schedule social media posts all at once.
For me, the tool that comes to mind is Asana.
I’m part of a remote, international content marketing team that always seems to be juggling a million tasks every week—scratch that, every day.
There are a lot of moving pieces, and there’s always a lot to keep up with. Not to mention, we have to collaborate to get all this work done despite our different time zones and schedules.
Asana is what allows us to communicate with ease, stay on top of things and make sure that nothing slips through the cracks.
Here, I’ll share our experiences with this project management tool and my own opinions as an individual content marketer who’s been using it for a solid 3 years now.
And of course, don’t just take my word for how well it works—you can sign up for free anytime and try it for yourself.
What Is Asana?
In the simplest terms, it’s a project management tool focused on tracking tasks.
For my team, it’s our main dashboard for work—aside from CoSpot, which we now use to manage all of our editorial planning, writing and publishing. In the days before CoSpot, we leaned on Asana for everything from to-do lists and editorial calendars to full-fledged discussions on important topics.
In both situations, Asana has been a reliable place to:
- Create and organize tasks
- Assign tasks to different team members
- Send messages to team members
- Set due dates
- Be notified of progress on tasks
- See a calendar showing task due dates
You can choose to view your tasks in a list format:
Or in a board format, similar to tools like Trello:
Then, of course, there’s the ever-popular calendar view:
How My Team Manages 30 Blogs and Thousands of Content Marketing Tasks with Asana
My team still does use Asana in conjunction with CoSpot. It serves as our team’s to-do list. Anything that’s not related to a specific blog post goes here.
Recurring tasks related to content strategy, publishing, newsletters, web development and technical issues are things we work on here. We also still use Asana for our team’s lengthier back-and-forth conversations about key topics. Whenever there’s something brand-new that comes up, we create a task for in it Asana.
It’s great for conversing because you can add everyone involved as Followers to a task and just let the messages flow. Where needed, links to screenshots we’ve uploaded on Screencast and links to Google Docs, where our longer reports and guides are kept, can be added directly to tasks and messages.
All in all, Asana functions as a digital office where we congregate, talk about tasks, assign tasks, set deadlines and keep each other updated on progress while moving through projects. Without Asana, we’d have tasks lingering and floating in the ether, or we’d end up losing track of things over the course of our many discussions and projects.
It’s the best place to create your team’s to-do list and assign new tasks to your team members.
Even when we need to revisit an old task or conversation, Asana helps us out in a big way. It’s easy to search through all the tasks you’ve completed on Asana in the past, keeping these tasks from the past on hand—just in case you need to revisit something.
Asana can be used as an editorial calendar of sorts since it does have a calendar view. By applying due dates to tasks, they’ll automatically appear on the calendar along with their due dates. However, I’ve found it unwieldy for this purpose. Mainly because we publish dozens of blog posts every week.
If you’re publishing 10 blog posts per week or less, then you can make do with Asana. It just might feel a little less than ideal, since it’s not designed for that purpose. You’ll eventually want to invest in a dedicated content marketing platform—like CoSpot—that can organize larger volumes of information with ease.
A Quick Walkthrough of How Asana Works
Asana is a seriously robust platform and it has ample features that you can work with. In fact, for some individuals and smaller teams, there may be too many features.
There’s a lot to work with when organizing your tasks here—so much so that it can become a bit of a challenge for newbies to adapt to the system.
In the case that it all feels like too much, you can stick to the basics. Be sure to check out the section I’ve dedicated to plans and pricing down below for the 411 on that. For now, take a look at the many features which could be yours to play with.
- Teams — The team is the top layer. If you’re managing the Asana account, this is where everyone you’re working with comes together. Each team will have access to different projects and tasks.
- Workspace — Within a Workspace, you can add projects, tasks and teams. This is where you’re able to actually get to work with your team (or teams). The same team could be assembled in multiple Workspaces. There’s another type of Workspace area in Asana known as an Organization, which is sort of the same thing but requires a unique company domain name and company email addresses. Workspaces can even be converted into Organizations, once the proper credentials are in place.
- Reports — In each Workspace, you can check out reports to see which tasks and projects were completed on which date.
- Projects — These are exactly what they sound like: Projects that your team is working on. You’ll be able to create and manage tasks within each project, and you can track your team’s progress on each Project from your personal Dashboard.
- Sections — These are big headings that you can use to divide up your tasks. For example, you can create categories or phases for tasks within a certain project.
- Tasks — Tasks are key in Asana. Each task lets you assign followers, due dates and more, and upon completion, you can click to mark it “Completed.” You can also easily reopen completed tasks.
- Subtasks — Within each task, you can create subtasks. These will be contained within their respective task, but will still appear on your dashboard as tasks needing to be completed.
- Tags — Add tags to your tasks to group them up by different characteristics. You can work with numerous tags, and then with one click, you can sort through all your tasks by one particular characteristic.
- Comments — Discussions between team members on Asana ensue when Comments are created. You can use the @ symbol to tag any team members who need to see the Comment, or who you’re referring to in your message.
- Inbox — Your Inbox is constantly updated when things change in the tasks you’re following. Click on your Inbox to see when tasks you’re following have been completed, when Comments are left in a task you’re following, when you’re added as a Follower to a new task, or when someone hits you up by tagging your name with the @ symbol.
- Calendars — Because you can assign Due Dates to your tasks, you can also view your tasks in a Calendar view which maps out the tasks temporally by their due dates.
- Views — View all of your tasks sorted by due date, priority status or alphabetical order.
- Dashboard — The Dashboard for each Asana project shows your team’s progress through tasks overall.
- Integrations — Asana can be integrated with quite a few other content marketing tools, such as Dropbox, Slack, Trello, MailChimp and Google Teams.
The Best Tips for Working in Asana
- Learn by doing. If you’ve never used Asana before and are looking to hook your content marketing team up with this project management tool, take some time on your own to explore the features and figure out how your work can best be organized here. Plan at least a week or two where you’ll wade into the Asana waters and get a feel for everything.
- Create your own unique workflow. There’s not one way to do things here, which is ideal for content marketers—each of us has a unique assortment of projects and tasks, and no two content marketers will end up using this in exactly the same way. Play around with some different systems to see how your team’s unique projects and tasks can best be organized, before onboarding everyone else.
- Take advantage of Asana’s guides. Okay, so there’s tons of flexibility! But the tradeoff is that Asana isn’t the simplest project management system to use, and it comes with a learning curve. That’s why Asana itself has written many, many support guides explaining all of the features I discussed above (and more).
There are three whole series of guides: (1) for the individual user who wants help getting started, (2) for the content marketer who needs to teach Asana to other team members and (3) for the team that’s expanding their usage of Asana. Read, read, read!
- Make your own Asana guide. Once you’re a total Asana expert, make a guide for your own system of organization and pass this around to team members who you’ll be onboarding. This was a necessity for my own content marketing team—onboarding without a guide for our specific way of using Asana resulted in lots of extra questions.
- Get a handle on your inbox. One drawback to Asana is that the Inbox layout can become overwhelming for anyone who’s involved with tons of Asana tasks at once—and this can also result in a cluttered email inbox. I personally do better with Asana’s email notifications shut off completely.
Asana’s Plans and Pricing
Here’s the best thing about Asana: It’s affordable. Very affordable. There’s a nice option for any content marketing team of any size.
Final Thoughts: How Asana Stacks Up to the Competition
If your business is complex and your content marketing team numbers above ten members, Asana offers the level of complexity you need to stay hyper-organized and fine-tune your workflow. Something more “intuitive,” “visual” or “user-friendly”—as Asana competitors often tout themselves to be—will end up being too simplistic and not granular enough.
In the end, an oversimplified project management tool can do you more harm than good, and leave you feeling completely overwhelmed. It’s worth spending a few weeks dealing with the Asana learning curve—in the end, you’ll be able to keep better track of all your work and your team members.
Of course, if you’re dealing with fairly simple work as a team—stuff that doesn’t have a lot of subtasks and nuances—the Free Asana account is pretty solid and you can avoid the more complex organizational features altogether. Just make tasks, complete tasks and call it a day! That should be more than enough to keep track of your work.
I’ve been working with a larger content marketing team on Asana for three years now, and it’s been an overall positive experience. It’s a tool that’s grown right along with us, and it’s something I highly recommend for other content marketing teams.
But I’m just one humble content marketer.
You don’t have to take my word for it.
Thanks to the free account option, you can easily sign up and take Asana for a spin and see if it’s right for your team!