From the moment I started using Asana at work, I was hooked. You’ve might have heard that one super organized friend of yours gush about it before. (I’m pretty much always “that friend” with my gals!)
If you aren’t familiar, Asana is a free project management website that helps you stay organized. It’s like a to-do list on steroids, or sticky notes that have infinite space and never lose their stick. It’s mostly used by teams, as a way to delegate work, track progress and stay accountable.
But, Asana has a secret hidden power. It is a fantastic tool to use for personal goal-setting!
I stumbled upon it’s goal-setting abilities a few years ago, when I was looking to move to Los Angeles. I was using Asana at work and it made my slightly OCD mind so happy. Something about it’s beautiful, simple design and the way it can incorporate all your details without looking cluttered, spoke to me. It was just plain fun to use. Part of me wanted to look for excuses to use it outside of work, but the other part of me felt super overwhelmed by planning a cross-country move in a 3 month timespan. I put two and two together and BOOM. It clicked.
But you don’t have to be super organized to enjoy using Asana! I’ll share my computer screen with you, and show you the exact step-by-step process I use to plan and achieve goals with Asana. I’ll also include a real case study bonus video in the Free Tools & Resources Library, so you can see how Creative Strategist & Copywriter, Madison Davidson, set up her Asana to help her reach her goal of tripling her income over the next year!
I’m not an affiliate or ambassador of Asana (although perhaps in my heart!).
I’m just someone who loves to click that little checkbox when I get something done.
You might be asking yourself, “Could Asana help me and my personal goals?” Here are some initial thoughts to consider:
- Asana puts you in an action-oriented mindset. Which sucks that overwhelming feeling out of your goals and helps you get to work. It forces you to put parameters around what the task is, in order for you to move on to the next one. It turns a dream into a concrete thing.
- With Asana, you can see the big picture, the small tasks …as well as the even smaller tasks! I’m going to show you how to set goal milestones and figure out which tasks will help you reach each milestone. Then we go even deeper by writing down the exact instructions on how to complete those tasks. The goal is to have your dream comprised of many Lazy Actions, which are actions you could take even when you don’t feel like doing them. Like making a phone call or sending an email, for example. Your dreams will become that easy.
- If you have time constraints on your goal, you can set due dates and Asana will send you email reminders. This is a great way to remember when grant applications are due, or to set your own self-imposed time goals, to stay accountable.
- Asana also introduced a new feature recently called Boards. If you are familiar with Trello, it’s very similar. Boards are great for repeatable actions towards a goal that will add up to progress over time. Usually this is for a goal that you don’t have complete control over, like auditions or pitches. Asana helps you track the element that you do have control over – which is your effort towards the end result.
So here’s the step-by-step…
Step 1: Choose a goal.
Step 2: Figure out if it’s a One-off Goal or a Repeatable Effort.
This is like what I mentioned above. A One-Off Goal would be something you are working towards only once. Like a cross-country move, or a fabulous vacation. There are steps that you need to take to get there, but with directed effort, you’ll achieve the goal. A goal that requires repeatable effort would be something where you need to throw your efforts against a wall and see what sticks! Examples can be: tracking auditions, writing guest blog posts to be featured on media outlets, or applying for scholarships. This is usually the type of goal where the end result isn’t always up to you – you will either “win” it or not. The effort is the thing that is under your control, so that’s what we want to track in Asana. Don’t worry – I’ve included instructions for both types of goals, because sometimes your goal might benefit from both types. (Like Madison did, in our free bonus case study!)
1. Create a Project. This will be the name of your goal. For this example, I’ll use “Moving to LA!”. To add a project, go over to the left side and click the arrow that says “Create a Project”. Type in the name of the goal, and set it to “List”. As you can see, there are also a few free templates you can choose from. Notice how there is a Company Goal-Setting Premium Template? The tutorial you are reading right now will act as the same thing, only Soultiply’s is free and catered to personal goal-setting for the individual! Lucky you! 😉
2. Add Sections for Large, Over-Arching Tasks. You can think of these large tasks as phases of your goal journey, milestones, or sections. These tasks are the easy ones to come up with. Pretend your goal is a movie montage – think of these tasks as the highlights displayed while the up-beat music plays in the background! These actions are the broad brushstrokes in a painting. If you were to describe your goal to a Kindergartener, these would be the steps you would tell them. They are easy to think of and can feel overwhelming at first glance. Write them down now – they are going to serve as the framework to your goal! To add a section in Asana, hover your mouse over the “Add Task” icon and “Add Section” will appear. You can reorder your sections as you see fit.
3. Now it’s time to Add Tasks under each section. To brainstorm tasks, ask yourself “What do I need to do to make this happen?” Walk through it in your mind, step by step. You can always add and reorder these steps later. I liken it to packing for a trip. When I pack, I start at the top of my head and go down my body, making sure I packed everything I need along the way. Do I have my hairties, contacts, makeup, cold medicine, bras, shirts and so on? Do this same process with your goal. Type every task out, even if it might change, or you don’t know the answer yet. You can always add or delete tasks later. Asana is flexible, but you need to have somewhere to start. Do this process for all sections. Adding tasks are easy – Click “Add Task”, write down the name, and then drag and drop it where you like by clicking the tiny dots next to the name and placing it where you want.
4. Add one more task to the end of each section – Your Reward! Best case scenerio the reward will be something that helps you achieve the next milestone! For me, a reward might be to treat myself to concert tickets when I get to LA. This keeps you motivated with small treats throughout your goal journey. Achieving your goal will be the huge reward in the end!
5. Dive into each task and flesh them out. Here are a few things you can do with each task in Asana:A. Assign tasks to others (great if you are working with people who also use Asana. You do not have to achieve your goals alone!)
B. If you have time constraints, you can assign due dates to your tasks. If you want to set yourself up with time limits for each task as a way to stay motivated, go right ahead. Others might disagree, but this step is up to you. If deadlines are going to freak you out and freeze you up, skip them. Sometimes we don’t know how long something is going to take. And in that case, missing a self-imposed deadline can do more emotional harm than good. But if you skip assigning a deadline for yourself, make sure that you are getting the work done. If you are the type of person that won’t do the work unless you feel some pressure, put a due date on there. Like everything else in Asana, you can change your due dates!
C. You can add tags or attachments, which are helpful for staying organized.
D. You can write a description or status. Here is where I like to include notes, links, and any details that I need to remind myself to get this task done.
E. One of my favorite features – you can add subtasks (if needed). Some tasks will be self-explanatory. (Do you really need instructions on how to drop something off in the mail?) But for more complex tasks, (like “Hire a Moving Company”) you can break the task down even further. The goal is to break the task down into manageable moments, where each step feels like something you can handle. Feeling resistance? Focus on the Lazy Actions. If you can break down each task into a handful of Lazy Actions, you’ll achieve your goal in no time! You can also assign subtasks to people, set dates, add descriptions, notes or a status – just like a normal task!
F. Asana included the comments field for team collaboration, but you can use it as a running log! It’s also great place to mention the status of a particular task. You can type, “Waiting on Doug to get back to me” and then set your due date to when you plan on checking in with him again. Or if you go premium, you can mark a task with a status, like “Waiting On”.
G. Feeling overwhelmed by your goal? Go into full screen mode to focus on just what you are working on. That’s all that matters in this moment. Do this by clicking on the three dots at the top right hand corner, and clicking “Full Screen”
6. Now it’s time to work on your goal! When you finish a task – check it as complete and Asana will archive it from your list. Ahhhh, so satisfying!7. If you go to your Dashboard, you can track your progress on any given goal. Click “Add Project Summary” and choose which project you would like to check. Through a handy chart at the bottom, you can update your status and see what tasks are left to complete. You can set reminders to checkin on the goal and see how much you’ve already completed.8. If you do decide to use Asana to work with a team, there are even more useful features to use. Try having your team conversations within the app as an easy way to delegate work.
Board (Repeatable Action Goal)
1. Using Boards requires a slight mindset shift. First ask yourself, “What is the true goal that I want?” Maybe it’s to have a media feature, land a part in a Broadway show, or receive a full-ride scholarship. What is the one trait that all these examples have in common? You don’t have full control of the final outcome. So with an Asana Board, you can focus your energy on the parts that you can control. Asana tracks the effort you put towards alligning yourself with the best opportunities. For my example, I’m going to use a goal that I’m currently undertaking – trying to get my posts featured on media outlets. Exactly like before, to add a project, go over to the left side and click the arrow that says “Create a Project”. Type in the name of the goal and set it to “Board”.
2. Then decide, “What are the stages of this process?” These are the huge actions that you will take every time that you work toward this goal. For me, this is the process that I take for each blog post that I write when my mission is to pitch to a media outlet. For you, it might be the process you take with each audition. Or the steps you take for each scholarship or job application. To add a column, click the “Add Columns” button and type in the name. You can reorder them afterwards.
3. Before moving forward – Add these 3 columns to the end! These will be your status columns. Label them “Waiting to Hear”, “Won!”, and “Try Again!”. Note to self – we call this last column “Try Again” for a reason. It’s not labeled “Lost”!…That’s because opportunities are always a circle. You might not get asked to speak at that conference this year, but next year you could! No opportunity is ever truly over.
4. With this board, the actual opportunity will be the task that moves through the columns. The columns will remain the same. This helps you develop a concrete routine and feel less discouraged if the opportunity doesn’t pan out right now. Your tasks could be the name of the particular blog post, scholarship, or audition. You can add them by clicking the “+” within each column.
5. Then organize your tasks exactly as before! Assign the task to people, set due dates, add tags and files, and write comments. Treat them exactly like the Asana List View goals. You probably won’t have as many subtasks with the Board system. Or if you do, the subtasks might change depending on which column your opportunity is currently located. This makes sense, since the column is the “step” when using the Board format.
6. Then the magic happens! Drag and drop between columns as you move your opportunity through the stages!
7. The Last 3 Columns are super powerful! Make sure and assign due dates for the “Waiting on Response” column. This will signify when you need to check in on your opportunity again. Keep track of when to follow up with an email to check the status of your opportunity. This will help you make sure that you follow through with the opportunity fully, which keeps it from fizzing out right at the end! From there, once you hear back, you can move it to the “Won” column or to “Try Again”.
8. Remember this – Try Again is not Lost. The great benefit when using this board for your goal is that it reminds you that your true goal isn’t to be picked. Your real goal is do the actions and pursue the opportunities until you see results. That might take one time or 800 million times. And since you can drag and drop tasks – move the opportunity back to the beginning and start again. Or keep the opportunity in the “Try Again” column and set a due date for when you’ll restart, like 2 months from now. Allow yourself to relect on the potential reasons why the opportunity didn’t work out this time. And come up with a plan to overcome those obstacles during your next try. Remember, persistence pays off! Each time you bring that opportunity through this funnel, you will get closer and closer to your goal.
How do you plan on using Asana for your goals? Share your ideas below! If you are struggling on how to come up with tasks, or how to set-up your board, check out this interview I did with Madison Davidson, a Creative Strategist & Copywriter, on how she set up Asana to work towards her goal of tripling her income next year. She gives some terrific examples!