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Asana keeps me out of my email inbox, and in productivity. I am addicted to Asana, and I hate email. There, it’s out there now. Phew. Everyone who knows me already knows I can’t go a day without success unicorns flying across my screen as I power through tasks…feeling that irreplaceable sense of Hulk-level accomplishment each time a little green checkbox is filled.
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Ahhhh… unicorns. I also never, ever, EVER have to utter these words to my team: “Hey, did you get a chance to do X?”. I already know, because my awesome team works in Asana. Religiously. And Devoutly. Checking email all day every day is incredibly inefficient. I owe it to my clients to focus on the tasks they pay me to do, and to my team to stay on top of the training, process improvement, and marketing tasks that keep our business growing.

An effective project management system is vital to the success of any growing business. Here are a few important ways that Lawton Digital has organized Asana to work best for us.

1. Invest time (or money!) in training the team.

Asana is not BaseCamp. It’s not Wrike. Nor does it manifest pretty floating blob circles like DropTask. It is efficient and productive instead. Everyone remembers the first time that they logged into Asana. Overwhelming is an understatement. It looks like a gigantic, never-ending sea of sharks– I mean tasks. It’s not. Don’t judge. Log out, breathe, then log back in again.

Every company uses Asana to organize projects differently, so it is important to create interactive tutorials to train your team how to use the tool. Try screencasts. In other words, SHOW your team instead of telling them how to word tasks, complete descriptions, and organize projects. Screencasts are easy to record with free tools like MonoSnap and Jing. We use a premium tool called Iris out of preference. Iris is the bomb. Here is a painless 1-minute video on Quick-Add tasks I made for my team (but formatted to be public… ya know… for the greater good and all):

We also have videos explaining the best way to set up the favorites bar, custom searches (one of the highlights of Asana), and our tagging and section structure.

2. Do as you say – get off email.

It is NOT ok to tell everyone to communicate via Asana tasks conversations, then send YOUR requests via email.

Duh, you hypocrite.

As the person in charge, YOU set the example for how the company operates. If you want to keep everyone sending and receiving endless email strings that get lost, overload everyone’s stressed email inbox with an unorganized neverending mess of conversations, and abusively blow up the CC field (drop in your boss, boss’s boss, and the irritating CYA guy in the other department) every time you send a one-liner, be my guest!

The more my competitors continue to use email for project management, the better my business looks! Because, ya know, we do not drop the ball on stuff in Asana. Ahhhhh…. we win!

3. Use it on the go

Did you think being on the go means it’s ok to email instead? Newsflash: We are ALL on the go, all the time. Welcome to 2015. Once in the habit, creating a task in Asana via mobile or tablet app is easier than sending an email from your phone.

Are you one of those irritating bosses who drafts emails on the plane, seeking cruel pleasure out of dive-bombing everyone’s inboxes when they send en masse when you land? First of all, if you do that, you suck. Stop sucking. Second, third-party apps like Tappsana allow you to create tasks and interact with Asana when offline.

4. Get emails into Asana.

Incoming requests from clients will come in via email. Sigh, a moment of sadness washed over me… email is still an inevitable part of my daily life, BOO. Fortunately, several helpful tools save the day to get emails in to Asana quickly to allow you to work through your communication flow in a logical, organized manner.

Our team uses Zapier, a tool I am also becoming addicted to in record time. Zapier allows you to set up a “Zap” (if you think I’m suggesting lightning striking, check out Zapier.com and scold yourself for living in the 19th century) that auto-generates a task in Asana based on common events. For us, every time an email is starred in Gmail it becomes an Asana task, like magic. MAGIC IS REAL. ZAPIER SHOWED ME THE LIGHT. Here is how our Zapier settings get us effortlessly from Email to Asana:
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Bonus: If a Gmail (Google Apps) user, the URLs on the screenshot link you STRAIGHT back to the exact email to reply. You’re welcome.

We also are head-over-heels for MixMax. If you use Gmail, MixMax lets you send beautiful direct links to emails. Meaning you can link a client email to a task or send one to a team member without cluttering their inbox with a thousand forwards.

5. Keep it in Asana: Don’t cc everyone & their mother

Inevitably, communication with those outside your organization will require the use of the dirty word… email. Even me – The Anti-Email Queen, has come to terms with this fact. Trust me, I tried a gazillion ways around the sad email reality (eventually irritating enough clients that I had to knock it off).

Hear this loud and clear: THAT IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO START CCing everyone on emails again.

That’s right. Gulp, swallow that point.

Keep task updates IN THE ASANA TASK (sounds logical now, right?), not in disconnected email strings that distract the team and pull them off of their current focus to check their email inbox. The good news is that there are a TON of helpful ways to do this! The first: Copy + Paste. If running through your task list, the task you are working on is already open, and so is the email draft. That means it takes 2.5 seconds at most to copy the email to an Asana comment before sending.Email to Asan

Do it for your team. Let them stay updated on each task all in one place, so their brains don’t explode.

Asana Rules Our Project Management

Using Asana instead of email to manage projects, clients, and business growth allows Lawton Digital Marketing to operate efficiently, spending less time checking in with one another and more time getting results. We manage with Asana for everything from LDM accounting and operations to long term client projects.

Putting a team’s daily to-do list, conversation go-to spot, client history, and future planning all in one place provides continuity for the business as a whole and for each team member. In less than 5 seconds, I could pull up a client’s monthly report notes from April of 2014 or tell you the exact day we launched our new website. Any of us can instantly pull up when ANYTHING was done for a client or know why it is not yet completed, because it all lives in a central location that we access to collaborate. We can access Asana from anywhere, as long as we have a smartphone.

Interested in more specific Asana tutorials? Check out the Asana Training YouTube playlist where we regularly add new training videos.

Check out Asana’s beginner guide when you get started. At Lawton Digital, all new team members watch parts of this guide as part of their onboarding. It is worth it!