Check out Asana, a #FREE project management tool to help manage your writing career

Recently, I have been posting EVERYWHERE about how much I love Asana and how much it has helped me out with all things Pure Textuality PR related.  I’ve also mentioned to a bunch of writers that it can help them out.  After discussing it with an author on my Facebook page, I decided it might be high time to do up a blog post to show you how Asana can benefit you and your writing career.

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*ASANA IS FREE*

The driving force behind how a writer manages a good portion of their career is cost.  The great thing about Asana is you can have a team of up to 15 people in your Asana workspace before you have to pay a dime.  As long as your team is under 15 people, you’re golden grahams and the tool is totally free.  Now, that being said, you can create more than one workspace.  You can have one for your writing, one for your marketing, and one for your street team if you have so many people working with you that it’s required.  But, if everyone on your team (PA, writing partners, street team, etc.) amounts to 15 or less people, you can keep everything in one workspace.

I know I am probably speaking Greek at this point, but dont worry.  We’ll clear up what all of this means.  Just remember, it’s free, it comes with a free app available for both Android and iPhone (which in itself makes life worlds easier), and it’ll change your professional life.  I also promise you, once you know how to navigate it, it’s one of the most user friendly tools you will ever encounter.  This is a great tool for those of you with PAs!  Just add them to your workspace.  

Ready??  Let’s go!

Jena PTPR Signature

DISCLAIMER:  I am in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Asana, with the exception of being a satisfied user of theirs.  For my own use, I use Asana to manage EVERYTHING – Pure Textuality, Pure Textuality PR, From Helios to Hollywood (our brand new podcast), and My Writing/Beta group.  Absolutely everything.  It’s never glitched.  It’s never failed me.  All of my clients have learned to navigate it with extreme ease.  The app is sooooooo easy to use because it functions much like the website.  Once you know you’re way around the site and get comfy with how everything works, the app is a BREEZE.

Before we get started, all of the screenshots can be clicked on and they will open up to a larger size in a new tab.

Asana Website  |  Android App  |  iPhone App

PLEASE NOTE:  IF THE APP LINKS DONT WORK (THESE ARE THE LINKS I GOT FOR THE FULL-SITE SO IT MAY HAVE TROUBLE LINKING IT TO YOUR APP STORE), GO TO THE GOOGLE PLAY STORE OR THE APP STORE,
SEARCH ‘ASANA’, AND IT’LL COME RIGHT UP.  

I’m an organizational FREAK.  Everything is filed and labeled and in it’s exact place…..right where it should be!  lol  However, if you’re managing everything by trying to remember every little thing, I dont care how good you are, you’re going to drop the ball at some point if for no other reason than sheer mental exhaustion.  Asana is going to help you with all that.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Asana dashboard!  Once you sign up for your account, Asana will have you name your workspace (I named our sample workspace My Writing Career), and then it kicks you over to your dashboard.  And this is what your blank, lonely dashboard looks like:

step 1

Looking around the blank dashboard, you will see the following:

1 – Your Task List
2 – Your Inbox
3 – Your Task List
4 – Your Team
5 – Your Project List

step 2

Your default view when you come into your dashboard will always be your task list (1).  Right now, it’s blank, but we will revisit this a little later after we get some tasks set up so you can see what it will look like when you’re up and running.  For now, click on the View menu in the top right corner of the blank task list.  Select Tasks By Due Date.

view settings

Click on that same menu again and select Save as Default View for Everyone.

default view

That sets the tasks by due date for the entire workspace including all of your projects.

Back to our diagram –

step 2

In the top left corner, you have your inbox (2) and a link to your task list (3).  When one of your teme sets up a task, completes a task, comments on a task, likes your comment on a task, or you have a task due, it’ll pop up in your inbox.  It’s kind of nice summarized way to see the activity that has taken place in your workspace without making you go through each task to seek out status on tasks.

In your dashboard menu along the left side of your screen is your team (4) and your project list.

To invite team members, click on the little plus (+) sign just to the right of the little circles.  This opens a blank box.  Type in the email address of your team member and click the invite that appears in the drop down.  This opens a dialog box where you can enter their name.  Type that in, and click Share this Team.  DO NOT CHECK OFF THE BOX MARKING THEM AS A GUEST.  They wont be able to do much.  lol

step 3.1

step 4

step 5

Now you will see other users.  However, until they follow the instructions in their email and log in to the dashboard, they just sit there.  We’ll go over how to cancel an invitation later.  You’ll need to know how in case you’re maxed out on users and have a few dummy ones that can be 86’ed to make room.  🙂

Okay!  Now that you have your team added, let’s talk about projects.  I’ve been thinking over how to most efficiently do this and I think making a project for each book is your best bet.  This will allow you to have it open and continually update it long after the publishing process is done and you’re just doing post-release marketing.

 

Click on the little plus (+) sign next to the project list and this opens a dialog box for your new project.
create

SHORT CUT!!! FOR YOUR FIRST PROJECT, WE’RE GOING TO NAME IT ‘TEMPLATE BOOK’.  We will go through and add all the tasks you need, from the writing process all the way through post-release marketing.  Then, we will use that and create duplicate projects for each title.  This will save you a lot of time having to create all the tasks for each book.  As your writing career progresses and you learn what does and does not work for you, you can go in and alter the template task to add or remove tasks, and then just copy from that going forward.  HUGE time savings.

TEMPLATE BOOK

We’re going to start with how to set up tasks in a project.  Click on the name of the project and this brings you to that project’s task dashboard.  Hover your mouse over the Add Task button, and an Add Section button will appear.  Click Add Section.

Step 8

Add 3 different sections: Writing, Publishing, and Marketing.  When you are typing in the title, do not remove the colon.  If you do, it converts to a task.  The colon is what makes it a task section.

sections

Once you’re done adding those, click on Writing, then click the Add Task button up above.  Type in the name of the task and then click add task again.  Dont worry about adding due dates or anything right now.  Remember we’re just doing the framework for your template project.  Repeat the steps until the following tasks are all added (alter the list to fit your writing process and what you’re comfortable with).

SHORT CUT!!!  For each section, highlight the list of tasks I have typed out down below, right click, and select copy.  Then click on the section you want to create tasks for, making sure your cursor is placed AFTER the colon…

cursor placement

…press Ctrl+V to paste it in.  It will create the list of tasks automatically.  🙂  

Writing Tasks

PRE-TYPED TASK LISTS

WRITING:

  • Outlining
  • Rough Draft
  • Content Editor
  • 2nd Draft
  • Content Editor
  • 3rd Draft
  • Beta Read
  • Copy/Line Editor
  • Proof Read
  • Product Description (Synopsis) 1st Draft
  • Product Description (Synopsis 2nd Draft
  • Product Description (Synopsis) Final

 

PUBLISHING:

  • Set Up Amazon Preorder Page
  • Secure Cover Photo/Artwork
  • Secure Cover Designer
  • Send Images to Cover Designer
  • Order Pre-Cover Reveal Promo Graphics
  • Order Coming Soon Promo Graphics
  • Order Now Available Promo Graphics
  • Send Final Draft Doc to Formatter
  • Proof Ebook Files
  • Submit Ebook Approval or Changes
  • Upload Final Ebook Files to Retailer(s)
  • Upload Final File to CreatSpace for Paperbacks
  • Order Paperback Proofs
  • Submit Paperback Approval or Changes
  • Order Paperback Overhead Stock

MARKETING – DIY:

  • Add Book Listing to Goodreads
  • Update Facebook Page With Cover Coming Soon Cover Photo
  • Cover Due Date
  • Create Cover Reveal Form
  • Create Release Day/Week Blitz Form to Bloggers
  • Cover Reveal/Release Day/Week Blitz Booking Email #1 to Bloggers
  • Share Forms on Social Media
  • Cover Reveal/Release Day/Week Blitz Booking Email #2 to Bloggers
  • Share Forms on Social Media
  • Send Cover Reveal Materials to Bloggers
  • Post Cover Reveal to Blog
  • Update Facebook Cover Photo to Coming Soon with Cover
  • Send Cover Reveal in a Newsletter
  • Retweet Cover Reveals
  • Like (on Facebook) Cover Reveal Posts
  • Share Cover Reveal with Preorder Links on Facebook Promo Groups
  • Share Cover Reveal with Preorder Links on Google+ Communities
  • Update Author Website with Cover
  • Update Goodreads with Cover
  • Update Amazon Preorder Page with Cover
  • Release Day/Week Blitz Booking Email #3 to Bloggers
  • Send Release Day/Week Blitz Materials to Bloggers
  • Post Release Day Announcement to Blog
  • Send Release Day Announcement in Newsletter
  • Update Facebook Cover Photo With Now Available
  • Update Website
  • Submit Book to Book Blast Services
  • Book Ads

MARKETING – USING PAID SERVICES:

  • Add Book Listing to Goodreads
  • Update Facebook Page With Cover Coming Soon Cover Photo
  • Cover Due Date
  • Order Cover Reveal Package from PR Provider
  • Share PR Links on Social Media
  • Share PR Links on Social Media #2
  • Post Cover Reveal to Blog
  • Update Facebook Cover Photo to Coming Soon with Cover
  • Send Cover Reveal in a Newsletter
  • Retweet Cover Reveals
  • Like (on Facebook) Cover Reveal Posts
  • Share Cover Reveal with Preorder Links on Facebook Promo Groups
  • Share Cover Reveal with Preorder Links on Google+ Communities
  • Update Author Website with Cover
  • Update Goodreads with Cover
  • Update Amazon Preorder Page with Cover
  • Order Release Day/Week Blitz Package From PR Provider
  • Share PR Links on Social Media
  • Share PR Links on Social Media #2
  • Post Release Day Announcement to Blog
  • Send Release Day Announcement in Newsletter
  • Update Facebook Cover Photo With Now Available
  • Update Website
  • Submit Book to Book Blast Services
  • Book Ads

Now that you have your template task set up, we can go in and make a duplicate from it.  To the right of the project name, TEMPLATE BOOK, at the top of the page is a little down arrow.  This is your action menu.

Project Actions

Click on the arrow and select Use As a Template (Copy Project).

Use As Template

This opens a dialog box for you to name the project.  I figured using my books for this part would be a good choice because I write a series.  For someone who writes nothing but standalones (do any of those writers actually exist???), their dashboard will be a little bit quieter, but this will show you the most cluttered scenario.

To keep everything quickly organized to your eye, use initials for your series name and the book number, then your title.  This is purely for organizational purposes and finding something quick without having to read every single title.  My first series is called the Demon Legacy series, so I am going with “DLX.X – ” before every title.  My next series is the Executioner series.  For that, we’re going to use “EXX.X – ” before every title.  Then I have my standalones, most of which dont have titles.  While they’re untitled, I’m going to name them by whatever reminds me of what WIP it is.  Of course, name your projects however you’d like.  This is merely a suggestion for what is easiest for me.  That doesn’t mean my way will work for you.  Mold the way you use the tool to whatever feels right to you.  The point is to make things more efficient for you.

Type the name of the first book into the project title blank, and make sure the boxes shown are checked off.  This should be your default, but I would just double check to be sure.  Finally, click the Create New Project button.

create new project copy

After you click Create New Project, it will take a moment to appear.  However, when it does, all the tasks you created for your Template Book are already in there.  Follow the process of copying the Template Book Project for each one of your WIPs or planned books.  Later on, we will go over creating a task for a book you’ve already published simply for post-release marketing.

Okay, back to the lesson.  Once it appears in your project list to the left, click on the book project you just created and you will see all the tasks copied from the Template Book.

copied task

Now we’re going to learn what you do with those tasks.

When you click on a task, it opens up a window with all sorts of neat capabilities.  You can attach files, leave comments, like comments, tag someone from your team in a comment, add followers (team members that will get a notification when anything happens with that task), etc.  Let’s go over the screen as you’ll see it.

First thing is the task assignment.  Remember when we were on the Dashboard home page at the very beginning and it start you out on your task list?  Well, when you or any of your team members logs in to Asana, that is where it will default you.  What will show there is a list of tasks assigned to YOU (team members will see a list of tasks assigned to them).

unassigned

Click on the Unassigned bubble and a list of your team mates drops down.  Select who you want to assign the task to (yourself or a team mate).

assignment

The next bubble is the Due Date.  Click on the bubble and a calendar appears.  You can not only assign the due date by actual date, you can do the time as well.

Due date

Another feature (which will come in handy on your Admin project) is the Set to Repeat function.  If you have a task that repeats regularly (weekly blog post, monthly newsletter, daily checking of author email), this is a great way to set that.  Then you just create one task, and every time you mark the task as complete for the day, a fresh copy of the task gets automatically created at the next assigned period.

Set to Repeat

It offers you every possible frequency you can image.

Daily – Creates a new task every day.
Periodically – Repeats every XX number of days you specify.
Weekly – Creates a task each week on the days of the week you specify.
Monthly – Repeats once a month on the number date you specify.
Yearly – Repeats once a year on the date you specify.

repeat frequency

For the next section, we have a series of small bubbles.  From left to right, they are:

Like – All team members have the ability to like a task by clicking the heart bubble.

Tags – You can apply tags to a task using the tag bubble.

Subtasks – This is if you want to create tasks within a task (which can also be assigned and given due dates).   We discuss this in detail in the Admin section down below.

Attach – You can attach files (documents, images, etc.) in a task.  This is good if you work with a PA.  You can have them attach emails they send (saved as PDFs) when they’re working on a task.  This is also a good way of saving your correspondence and receipts for things such as marketing/PR services, ordering swag, ordering paperbacks, saving ebook files, saving final word docs, promo graphics/teasers, etc.

More – Click to see menu (shown below).

little bubble

more menu

The next line down shows you which project the task is in, then which Section it is filed under.

project and section

The next line down is your task name and the task status bubble.  When it’s not filled in, the task is incomplete.

task name

Once you’re finished with a task, open it up and click on that bubble.  It turns green, and Asana adds a date/time stamped comment to the history noting which team member completed the task.

completed task

Next thing down is the description box.  This area is good if you’re assigning something to your PA. However, it’s not always needed.

Description Box

Next is comments.  Like just about anything else you can imagine with comment capability, that’s how it works.  Leave comments.  This is good for PAs to give status updates on tasks or if you just want to make a note for yourself.

comments

Last in the task is Followers.  If you have a team member you want to follow a project, you can add them as a follower and they will be notified anytime something about the task changes.  Team members can also go in and add themselves as a follower on any of the tasks.  Just click on the little plus (+) sign and start typing their name.  It will autopopulate with a list of matching team members for you to choose from.

Followers

An alternative to using the follower feature, or a tool to use in the event that you have multiple followers on a task, is to tag people in the comments.  When you are typing a comment, start with ‘@’ and then start typing the name.  It will bring up a list of matching names to choose from.

tag member

If you want to direct them to go look at another project or task, you can do the same thing.  Type ‘@’ and then start typing the name of the project or task.

tag project or task

Click comment and the tags stay.  🙂

Once you start setting due dates on tasks, the tasks will start to show on the project’s (book’s) calendar (link is as the top of the page just below the book title) along with a little bubble icon for who the task is assigned to.

project calendar

Any tasks that are assigned to you will now show in the main dashboard task list (your default view when you log in to Asana).

your task list

 

YOUR ADMIN PROJECT

I mentioned up above the suggestion of putting in an admin board for all of the writing career tasks NOT related to a specific title.  To begin, just like we did when we created the Template Book, go to the project list and click the little plus (+) sign to add a new project.  We’re not using the template because it’s not a book.  🙂  Type in Admin for the project name, and click the Create Project button.

Admin

For this project, we’re not going to bother with sections.  This is kind of the catch all that doesn’t fit in the book projects, and thanks to setting due dates for yourself, you don’t have to remember any of it.  Just look at your task list each morning.

I’m going to walk you through creating individual tasks, but I did provide a pretyped list for this project as well.

Click the Add Task button.   Type your task name, and fill in the task options (due date, assign it to yourself or a team member, description if more detail is needed, and any comments or attachments you want to include.

New Task

For that task, it’s pretty urgent, so I want to make sure I see it at the top of my list in my agenda for the morning.  So, in the Due Date settings, click the Add Due Time link and select a realistic time in the morning.  For instance, I begin work every day at 8am.  Any urgent tasks I have, I always assign them a due time of 9am.

due time

That task is all set.  Click the x in the top right corner to close it, and then click on the next line down on the task list (or click the Add Task button again).  For this one, we’re going to use Check Author Email Account as a task because I want you to learn how to set up repeating tasks.  Check Author Email Account

I want you to assign the task to yourself, set the due date for TODAY, click the due date bubble again, and then click on the Set to Repeat link.  As we mentioned before, you have lots of choices for settings here.  This particular task is a daily task, so change the REPEAT option to Daily.

daily

 

Click the x in the top right hand corner of the task to close it.  Now, go to your task list and click the little bubble to mark that task as complete….

marked as complete…and it automatically regenerates as a fresh task on the task list, assigned to you, with the next day’s date as the due date.  This is a great alternative to creating tasks one by one when you have a repeating task, and it keeps your task list from being more cluttered than it needs to be.

regeneration

IDEAS FOR DAILY TASKS:

  • Check Author Email Account
  • Check For New Blog Comments
  • Check Facebook Fanpage Messages
  • Schedule At Least 3 Facebook Posts
  • Check Twitter Account
  • Schedule At Least 3 Tweets
  • Share A Book Link Across XX Facebook Promo Groups

IDEAS FOR WEEKLY TASKS:

  • Schedule At Least Two Blog Posts

IDEAS FOR MONTHLY TASKS:

  • Publish Monthly Newsletter
  • Accounting – Enter Prior Months Receipts and Income
  • Accounting – Complete Year-To-Date Profit & Loss Sheet

(*schedule the Accounting task for the 1st of every month*)
(*this task will make tax season easy-peasy*)

More than likely, this is going to be a lot of random tasks.  This project board is ideal for adding tasks when you’re on the go.  If you happen to be out grocery shopping and remember you have giveaway winners to pick, set yourself a task on the Admin project right from your app and schedule your due date for when you need it done by.

If you have any online appearances (Facebook page/party takeovers, live chats, streaming video, podcasts, etc.), you can set a task for the event, assign it to yourself, and set the due date with a due time for the start of your event.  It’ll show in your task list that morning as a reminder.  🙂

Another great thing you can use this for is your convention prep to-do list.  We briefly brushed on the option to add subtasks to a regular task (“tasks within a task”).  Conventions are where I think you’re going to find it most helpful.  For conventions, we’re going to make a template task on your Admin project.

Click Add Task and title it CONVENTION TEMPLATE.  You’re not going to assign this to anyone and you’re not going to assign it a due date.  Kind of like your Template Book project is a floating project, this will be a floating task on your Admin project.

After you create the Convention Template task, click on the little file tree icon to create a subtask.

Template and subtask

SHORTCUT!!! Just like our other lists, you can copy/paste a list into one task and it creates the whole list.  Alter as needed.

CONVENTION PREP TASK LIST:

  • Fill Out Registration (Attach PDF’d Confirm)
  • Pay for Registration (Attach PDF’d Confirm)
  • Pay for Any “Extra Event” Registrations (Attach PDF’d Confirm)
  • Take Swag Inventory
  • Order Swag As Needed Following Inventory (Attach PDF’d Confirm)
  • Take Paperback Inventory
  • Order Paperbacks As Needed Following Inventory (Attach PDF’d Confirm)
  • Book Flights (Attach PDF’d Confirm)
  • Book Hotel (Attach PDF’d Confirm)
  • Book Rental Car (Attach PDF’d Confirm)
  • Arrange Round Trip Airport Transportation
  • Ship Boxes to the Hotel (Attach PDF’d Confirm)
  • Print Trip Itinerary (Attach PDF’d Confirm)
  • Pack Suitcases (Make Sure Travel Docs and ID Are In Carry-On)
  • Flight Check-In Online
  • ‘Out of Office’ Blog Post
  • ‘Out of Office’ Facebook Post
  • ‘Out of Office’ Twitter Post
  • Ship Boxes Home (If Needed; Attach PDF’d Confirm)
  • Flight Check-In Online
  • Pack Suitcases (Make Sure Travel Docs and ID Are In Carry-On)
  • Get An Annulment (Assuming Las Vegas Was A Factor)
  • Collect All Trip Receipts And Document Them
  • Track Sales Numbers From the Convention
  • Complete A Year-To-Date Profit/Loss Sheet

That’s about it folks.  I hope this tool helps you get organized and stay that way.  Publishing is a much more enjoyable experience when you can keep everything straight and never have to feel like you’re missing something.

DISCLAIMER:  I am in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Asana, with the exception of being a satisfied user of theirs.  For my own use, I use Asana to manage EVERYTHING – Pure Textuality, Pure Textuality PR, From Helios to Hollywood (our brand new podcast), and My Writing/Beta group.  Absolutely everything.  It’s never glitched.  It’s never failed me.  All of my clients have learned to navigate it with extreme ease.  The app is sooooooo easy to use because it functions much like the website.  Once you know you’re way around the site and get comfy with how everything works, the app is a BREEZE.

It’s free.  It’s easy to use.  It keeps you hella-organized!  I’ve yet to really find anything I dont like.  🙂  I’m sure it wont work for everyone, but it’s worked out so well for me, I figured I would share and see if I could save any of you some time and stress.

For anyone who is interested, I have this entire blog post in a .docx file if you’d like it.  Just let me know.

As always, if you ever have any questions, comment jena@puretextualitypr.com.

Jena PTPR Signature

P.S.  My word count on this blog post alone was just over 4k.  Does that count towards #amwriting???  lol  I hope so because it’s not 2:31am and this chick is tiiiiiiiired.  I’m scheduling it to post for 8:00am and I promise I will be awake to answer questions.  lol

 

 

 

 

 

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