For the past few years, Asana has been an indispensable tool for managing my daily to-dos and large projects. While I love almost everything about Asana, there was one feature that was conspicuously missing: a way to manage work that moved through predefined stages (like a blog post going from idea to draft to published). Well, the Asana designers must have been reading my diary because yesterday they announced new board based layouts! Now when you create a new project you can choose a list-based or a board-based layout.
While the new board layout is great, not all project types work well as a board. To get you thinking about how to use this new feature, I will walk you through 8 different project types that are perfect for a board layout.
How to create a new board-based project
Creating a board-based project is easy! When you are adding a new project, select "board" in the layout section. Note that you cannot change the layout type after you have created the project. Asana has said that they are working on a feature where you can toggle between the list and board layout, but it could be awhile before that feature is released.
When you have created your project, click "add column" to add columns and then click the "+" icon to add tasks to the different columns. To move tasks between columns, just drag and drop.
1. Kanban Method
The most common use for board-based layouts is to track work as it moves through different stages; this is called the Kanban Method. The Kanban Method helps you to visualize your workflow by classifying tasks as “to-do”, “in progress”, or “done”; though you can name these stages anything you want.
Day to Day Work
For day-to-day work the stages are typically “to-do”, “in progress”, and “done”. Tracking your day-to-day work using boards is great if you are collaborating with other people and want to have an overview of what everyone is working on. As new tasks arise, anyone can add them to the “to-do” column and, when someone begins working on it, they move the task into the “in progress” column.
Small teams working together on a specific project should also use a board layout to track their work. To keep small teams from getting overwhelmed, you can limit the number of tasks allowed to be in the “in progress” column.
2. Blogging Process
The first project that I switched to a board layout was my blog project. I named my columns according to the different stages of my blog process: Ideas, On Calendar, Drafts, Scheduled, Published, and Updates. Now whenever I get an idea for a blog post, I add it to the Ideas column. When I pick which posts to write and publish, I peruse my list of ideas and drag the good ones into the Drafts column. Then when I finish writing a post, I drag it to the Scheduled column and queue up the post on my website. This pipeline works by having ideas start in the leftmost column and gradually move through the pipeline and get published.
3. Lead Tracking
Similarly, you can use a board layout to track leads. This project could have columns: Interested, Follow Up Sent, Consultation Scheduled, and Services Booked. When a potential client reaches out to you, add them to the “Interested” column and then gradually move them through the pipeline. If they end up booking your services, move them to your invoice tracking/client tracking project. If they do not book your services, this lead tracking project will show you when they dropped off. If you have potential clients dropping off after the consultation, for example, this tells you that you need to adjust your consultation in order to book more clients.
4. Client Tracking
A client tracking project can give you a great overview of your active and upcoming clients. Create a board-based project with the columns: Booked, Client Homework Sent, Homework Received, On-boarding, In Progress, Wrapping Up, Completed. This project will show you what your client load looks like and will help you not be overbooked. It will also help you to know where all of your clients are in your process.
5. Invoice Tracking
Another great board-based project to have is an invoice tracker. Set up this project with columns: Deposit Invoice Sent, Deposit Invoice Paid, Final Invoice Sent, Final Invoice Paid. Each task will be the name of a client and as they receive and pay invoices they move left to right through the project.
6. Hiring Process
You can also use a board layout to track job candidates. Create a project with the columns: Application Received, Application Under Review, Application Rejected - Follow Up Sent, Application Approved - Interview Scheduled, Interview Rejected - Follow Up Sent, Interview Approved - Offer Sent, and Offer Accepted.
7. Project Milestones
If you have a large project that will span several months, use the board layout to visually separate tasks into different months.
One of the best aspects of the new board layout is that images attached to items are prominently displayed. By clicking on the small dropdown you can choose which image to display, or not to display images.
With the ability to feature large images, the board layout is perfect for interior design projects. Title each column with a room name and add images of the furniture or accessories you want in that room. You could even tag each item with “already own”, “need to purchase”, or “purchased”.
Give the new board layout a try and tell me how you are using it in the comments! If you want more great Asana hacks, enter your email below to get my free 6-page guide!