In my last post, I shared six reasons designers should use a project management app, so it shouldn’t be very surprising when I say that using Asana, my chosen project management app, has seriously helped me get my business a lot more organized and kept me on task even on the days I’ve felt the least motivated. Since I started using project management tools, I’ve tried a large variety of them, including Basecamp and Trello, and while I still use Trello for project collaborations, I always kept coming back to Asana for my own business.
I don’t know if it’s something about the simple design, how well it’s worked for the variety of projects I’ve tracked on there, or if it’s because it works amazingly for my client projects, but I’ve found that it’s my favorite project management tool. I totally understand that different people like features and designs for their tools, but since I’ve had so much success with Asana, I wanted to share a really quick 4-step tutorial on getting your design business setup in Asana with you today.
Create projects for the parts of your business
One thing I’ve gone back and forth with in Asana is how exactly I organize all of my projects. I tend to like to see everything in front of me all at once otherwise I’m far too likely to forget about one of my tasks. However, the great thing about Asana is that you can do that in a couple of different ways, the primary way being with different projects. So, the best way to get started after you’ve created your account is to create projects for the different parts of your business, which might look something like this:
- General business tasks
Depending on the size of your business you might have fewer or more projects than this. For me, I generally keep all of my content on one project instead of splitting them up so I remember if I need a blog post and a newsletter to correlate topics for a launch or something similar. Because I use Asana with my clients, I also create a new project for each client project I’m working on to keep things private. In the past, I’ve also had projects for Coded Creative and the Get Back to Design Podcast, but Krista and I moved those over to Trello.
Bonus tip: Since you’re already taking the time to streamline your business by getting setup on a project management app, I definitely recommend taking the few extra minutes to also create project templates for the different packages or services you offer your clients. This will make your onboarding process go even more smoothly because all you’ll have to do is simply copy the project, add your client, and then get started. If you need help figuring out what your project templates should look like and offer branding and web design services, definitely consider grabbing my Asana Workflows in the Polished Designer Toolkit.
Start adding your project to do’s
Once you have all of your projects setup in Asana, obviously it’s time to start adding your tasks. What you’re adding to each of your projects really depends on what the project is and what you have coming up. For example, if you created a ‘Blog’ project, then you might be adding your upcoming posts as tasks. Regardless, this is a great time to pull out your planner, phone, and any scrap pieces of paper on your desk so you can finally get all of your to do lists organized in one place. In case you’re still stuck, though, some of your tasks might be:
- Upcoming content or post ideas
- Product launch plans
- Day-to-day, someday business tasks
- Individual project tasks
When I was planning the Asana for Designers mini class, I created a separate project for it and started listing things like my content brainstorm and launch plan as my tasks. This helped me get everything I would normally be jotting down on paper or obsessively thinking about into one place where I could come back and reference it time and again while I was working on it. I also really like to do this for content. I have a whole list of content ideas that I’ve dropped into Asana for future planning and so I don’t forget about them.
Invite team members to your project(s)
If you have a team of people you work with or even just a virtual assistant, now is the time to start adding them to your Asana as a whole or individual projects. Since I’m still just a one woman band around here, I don’t usually add anyone to my projects other than clients. The great thing about adding team members is that you can add them to your entire Asana dashboard or you can add them to individual projects if you need to keep certain things in your dashboard private.
If you decide to only add people to individual projects instead of your entire dashboard, you’ll simply select the project and add them to that by clicking the ‘+’ on the right side of the screen. When you’re adding their information, there’s a checkbox (shown in the picture above) that you can select so that you’re only adding them to that project. This is how I add my clients to only their design projects.
Set due dates and assign tasks
Finally, after you have all of your tasks and people added to your dashboard, you can start setting due dates and assigning tasks. For all of my business projects (aka not client projects), I don’t assign the tasks to anyone since I know that I’m the lucky gal who gets to do it all. However, for client projects I assign the relevant tasks to my clients. You’ll likely do this as well as assign any tasks to your team members or virtual assistants. An awesome bonus of assigning tasks is that once the tasks also have due dates, Asana takes care of following up with that individual before their task is due so you don’t have to!
While you’re assigning tasks, it’s definitely worthwhile to also set due dates for them. Of course, I always do this for client projects, but I don’t always do it for my own tasks. However, a really awesome benefit of taking advantage of this feature is that if you ever need a quick look at your project schedule, editorial calendar, or launch timeline you can quickly check out the calendar view for the individual project or all of the projects in your dashboard. This is awesome if you need a quick check-in on what your schedule looks like.
So, will you be trying out Asana?
It may all seem overwhelming, but after you get things setup for the first time, you can rest assured that using Asana (or any project management tool, honestly) will help streamline your business in ways you never thought possible. I have always been a lover of planners and cute notepads, but I’ve never found them quite as beneficial for the long term as using an online tool like Asana.
If you need more help getting your business set up on Asana…
I have yet to find a better free project management tool that works wonders for designers than Asana, which is why I created a mini-class all about how to get your clients and your business itself setup on the platform. This mini-class includes tutorials on how to use Asana itself, PDFs of the exact workflows that I use for my content and my client projects, and you get lifetime access to the content, which means you’ll get any updates to the class that I happen to make.
Use the buttons below to head on over and learn more about the Asana for Designers mini-class and grab it for yourself so you can get setup on Asana before the end of the week!