First off, I want to say sorry. Last month's craziness has led me to post a little lesser than I would have liked, but trust me, I've got at least a post a week lined up in June (and more) so I'm getting back into the habit of providing great tips and information for all you trendy and up-and-coming entrepreneurs. :)
When you have a million and one project ideas, client projects, tasks to complete and content to launch, and you've yet to find an ideal assistant to help you with it all... You find the next best thing. Project management. I've used a lot of time trying to figure out the best system for myself, so I thought, why not share my system with you so that you can spend less time running around in confused circles and more time actually working on your projects? Honestly, it takes a while to get used to working with a system and enabling yourself to rely on a system that you've come up with (and yes, you do need to rely on something -- or someone -- else to make your life easier. Don't think you can do everything on your own, running full speeds in your brain, okay?) to really help you meet your deadlines and create so much more.
In the last few months, I've been taking on client projects (and maxing out my per-month quota), wanted to launch a full-on free workshop and a paid course, write every week to my newsletter subscribers, creating content for my blog and everything in between that comes with running a business. And it is hard. Some days I wake up and sit at my computer, completely at a loss as to what I'm supposed to do today. And that stinks because when you don't have a clear plan, you get super stressed out. You imagine that you have ten thousand looming, big tasks over your head and you get scared of your work days. I know, I've been there.
Having a system will allow you to know exactly what it is you should be doing for the day, and relieve some stresses that come with work.
That's why I'm all for having flexible structure. But seriously, if you can find a VA who works for you, by all means, go ahead. I am trying to help the temporary DIY-ers here (I say temporary because I believe that for everyone, there comes a time when you can't do it all and have to have someone else take over. I am getting prepared for that too!) to get things organized, structured and ready to go. Even when you reach the tipping point and get someone else on board, your assistant can learn everything so much more quickly because you have a (albeit overloading) system in place.
I have this not-so-mild obsession with stationery. So for a long time, I was trying to manage my projects just by email and my Moleskine and Legacy Planner. I was always, always a pen-to-paper kinda girl (and still am). But when you're pressed for time and have a million and one things running through your brain, sometimes scribbling down incoherent things on different pieces of paper just stops working as effectively as you'd have liked. I dropped things off, forgot some brilliant ideas that I said I would write down, and honestly, it wasn't very pretty. As much as I am a pen-to-paper kinda girl, I am also now a techy girl who loves making use of my tech products the way they should be used -- making our lives easier.
So now let's get straight to it, shall we?
That image above? That's my Asana main view of all my tasks. Without Asana I can safely say that my client projects will never be kept up to date or my to-do lists will ever be coherent. What I love most about Asana is the fact that I can create different "teams" and projects for each team, and each of those can be color-coded (the best thing ever, seriously). So I have a team with each of my client, and one separate team for myself.
For my personal team...
As you can see, I am the only person on my team and I have color-coded "projects" for each workshop, course, or section of my business. I write down my big to-do lists for each course or workshop, and split them into tasks on the Calendar View with due dates. I can also think of blog ideas and add a task with the blog post idea and the writing and publish date to the calendar. Web Updates are for changes I want to make to The Petite Co. site, and newsletter is for the weekly newsletter I send out to my subscribers on TPC. Lastly, I have a simple social media schedule that I can follow so that I will always have content to publish on my page.
As you've probably realized, there isn't any "life" tasks on my Asana. All my non-business tasks are entered into Wunderlist, simply because I can add them on whenever and I don't really need to assign due dates to them, they are just reminders that I check when I'm out for groceries or running errands.
For my clients' design projects...
I don't want to reveal all my clients' stuff but basically, I have a team for each client (I'll invite them so the project is private and only accessible to the both of us), and a color-coded project for each of them (if I'm working on multiple projects with them, they will all be the same color code but in separate project files still). In each project, I sometimes separate it further with the lists functions in Asana, to say, "Preparation Stage", "Design Stage" or "Preparation Stage", with to-dos listed under each list. I set up ALL major tasks and due-dates and assign them to either myself or my client. This way, the client can see EVERYTHING that's going on behind the scenes, when they can expect a completion or handover, or when they need to be prepared to send me files and other relevant things to keep the project moving forward and on track.
How I work...
So basically, every morning, I go into Asana with the "My Tasks" view, pictured above. I only ever have tasks on Mondays to Fridays, and here, you can see each color coded task for me in this view. So I have an at-a-glance view of my tasks for the day. This is my favorite thing because that means I don't have to care about anything else, I only need to focus on this small little box and do everything in it for the day.
I transfer each day's task to Momentum, so I can see each to-do without having to open my Asana and with opening every tab, so that I don't lose track. I love that I can add comments to each task and tag my clients or developer, shift things around and everything will be recorded (there is a list of "actions" that is under each task, whether you edited the task, changed it in any way etc.) so there is transparency and ease of use for myself and the clients.
Also, the "comments" section is very useful because everything is on my Asana under each project and I don't have to sieve through hundreds of emails to find something the client said, or wanted. Everything is filed under a project for your convenience and you can open it up to take a look at any time.
I particularly love the feeling of checking off tasks on my Momentum and Asana, and they really help me stay focused and on track throughout the day. I'm always WAY less overwhelmed when I focus on the little box I have, and know how to plan more effectively because when I see the small box overflow on particular days, I know that there's too many tasks for the day and I should probably space them out better.
So, how about you?
How do you manage your projects? I wanted to share Asana with you because it has really helped me keep my head above water and organize my own tasks as well as my clients' ones so I don't ever lose track. But if you have a better system or platform, I would love to hear from you!
This system is definitely not 100% perfect, but I've read many people who have difficulty finding traction with Asana, so I wanted to write a post on how I use it so that maybe it can help you regain some freedom, too.
I am in no way affiliated to Asana and I receive no remuneration for this post. :)
Let me know if the post helped you use Asana or manage your projects better!