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Navigating Asana

I. Introduction

Understanding how best to navigate Asana is key to most efficiently using it. While at first its interface may seem intimidating, it becomes more intuitive the more you work within it.

Most simply, the 3-panel view gets more specific from left to right.

  • The narrow left pane lists your “My Tasks” and “Inbox” view, pinned and/or recently viewed projects above a more extensive list of your Organization’s Teams and their projects.

  • The center pane is your list of asks either within your “My Tasks” or specific projects - whichever is selected in the left pane. The “Inbox” view is an exception: it shows a feed of all activity related to your tasks or the tasks and projects that you “follow.”

  • The right pane is your detailed task view from what you select in the center pane. It shows the notes and comments related to the task as well as tags and the task’s history.

For Asana’s breakdown, see their Interface Overview.

II. My Tasks

Your “My Tasks” view selected in the left pane opens a view of all tasks assigned to you. In this view, you’ll want to “Sort,” located in the top left of the center pane, by “Date.” Now you will see all of your tasks listed in the order in which they are assigned a due date. Tasks that are not assigned a due date will appear in the “Upcoming” or “Later” dropdowns sorted by project. BUT you’ll want your most relevant tasks sitting at the top of your list so you can work primarily from this view.

Each task listed in the center pane should have a clear title. When you select a task, it will open in the right pane with additional details. When you have completed a task, you can check the box that appears to the left of the title to mark it complete. When you have completed a task, Asana automatically hides it. This cleans up the view so you can focus on remaining tasks. But you can select to view your "Recently Completed" tasks if necessary.

Here is a graphic overview of My Tasks in Asana:

III. Inbox

Your “Inbox” displays a feed for notifications regarding projects, tasks, or tags that you are “Following.” You are following any projects, tasks, or tags that you create or choose to follow. Notifications include comments, additions of new tasks, and completion. Like all other center pane views, selecting a notification will open the details in the right pane.

Once you have looked over your Inbox and addressed any notifications that require your attention, you can “Mark All as Read” in the top left of the center pane to clear it. You can easily bring back those by the “Show Read Messages” option in the top right of the center pane. ​

Here is a graphic overview of Asana's Inbox:

When your Inbox is highlighted blue in the left pane, Asana is alerting you that you have unread notifications. We recommend that you check those notifications around three times daily: when your work day begins, in the middle of the day, and toward the end of the day. This will most efficiently enable you to balance addressing other team member’s needs, viewing your team’s progress on tasks, and focusing on your own tasks that need completion.

IV. Organization and Teams

DoStuff is the primary Organization under which all metros will have a Team. Below your view of pinned or most recently viewed projects, you will see a list of all our Organization’s Teams.

Your team members will have access to your projects, but people outside your team will not be able to view your projects unless given team membership.

Your “My Tasks” and “Inbox” will include all tasks and notifications relevant to you regardless of the Team in which they live. So your DoStuff related updates, such as for matchups, will appear in your “My Tasks” as well as your metro updates.

V. Projects

Within your Team, you will have all the projects related to your metro. Each project pertains to one big component of your metro, such as your Ad/Editorial Calendar, Content Management, on Big Important Partner projects.

Within each project, you will have a set of tasks assigned to members of your team to make that project happen. Each task is a set objective that the team member should be able to complete in a set block of time, from a few minutes to a few hours. For example, “Check manually added events” is a task for your CM in the Content Management project. “Send invoice” is a task for your GM in the designated partner’s project.

Here is a graphic overview of Asana's Projects:

DoStuff provides project templates to lay the foundation for your Team in Asana. These templates are available in the “Projects” article. These templates are based on our experience with our current metros to best set up all metros to be productivity machines.

VI. Search

Asana holds a ton of information, and sometime it can be time consuming to sort through if you are looking for something specific. Their “Search” makes it a whole lot easier.

Simply type in your keywords in the search box at the top of the left pane and let the live search pull up all tasks, projects, tags, or people that match. For a more targeted search, select the arrow at the right of the search box and fill in the relevant fields. See Asana’s search guidance for more details.

When your Team fills with projects, it will be most efficient to use search to navigate to one than to scroll through your whole list of projects. Or you can make your project a Favorite by starring it in the top left corner and pinning it in your left pane.