My New Task Manager of Choice: Asana

I have had a long-standing productivity love affair with OmniFocus. But I’m spurning it for a new (and more suitable) tool: Asana.

Yep, I’m removing everything from the app I’ve used for years and investing in one I’ve used for only a few months. Some people have called me crazy to do so, and even more have no idea what Asana is. But I’m doing it regardless.

I have been getting things done with Asana – more things, in fact. And I’m going to start getting things done with Asana alone from now on.

Why I’m Leaving OmniFocus

I have had a really hard time “quitting OmniFocus” in the past, mainly because there hasn’t been anything that can serve all of my needs. I suppose I should qualify this by saying I’ve never made as concerted an effort to leave OmniFocus behind before now, but I have had to look elsewhere to augment the app for some of the following already:

1. Those who don’t want to move their email tasks into another inbox.

When I was exploring Flow, I was doing so so that I could find a way to better implement those who trust email for task management and those who don’t. I have come to the conclusion that outside of productivity types – or “productivityists” – that getting people out of email and into a task manager is a losing battle. I can go on and on as to why email hasn’t been the best way to manage tasks and projects (such as the lack of connection between platforms, for example), but many people can’t wrap their heads around why they should move emails from one inbox (email) to another inbox (task manager). In some cases it is because they aren’t “allowed” to (their organization requires them to keep email folders to manage communications, so they manage tasks there as well), and in other cases they don’t see that email is a communcation platform and not a task management platform.

Asana gives me the ability to show people they can use email and a task manager in conjunction with one another and be pretty much none the wiser. I’ll dive into this a bit more in future posts, but with the email integration Asana offers, I’m able to work both on my own projects and in on team ones and get the job done far more efficiently and effectively than with OmniFocus.

2. Those who I have to collaborate or communicate with on projects.

Not everyone I work with has a Mac, iPad or iPhone – or at least, not all the time. Asana lets me deal with all my projects and all team members – no matter the platform – because it’s a web app, has a mobile app and also has a native iPhone version as well. That means that I can connect and collaborate with Windows, Linux and Android users on various projects and work independently on my Mac or iPhone on my own work.

Asana has true ubiquity. OmniFocus doesn’t.

3. The barrier to entry has been too high.

OmniFocus has appeared (and may very well be) too unwieldy for those who aren’t into productivity as much as I am. It is also pretty costly. Certainly it can be as simple as you want it to be – although it does have a lot of depth that can be accessed…depending on how much you want to go into it. But a lot of people I’ve talked to are scared off by its sheer power and how cumbersome it looks.1

Asana – while it may not totally look “uncumbersome” – has a big advantage over OmniFocus: it’s free to teams with 30 users or less. That lowers the barrier to entry in a big, big way.

Why I Chose Asana

Simply put, Asana offers me the following (including some of what was mentioned above):

  1. Ubiquity across all platforms.
  2. Collaboration with up to 30 people…for free.
  3. A fine meshing of email and task management not found in any other solution.
  4. It can scale. Asana works for large teams (it excels at this) and can work  all the way down to the individual (and it does this very well).
  5. It syncs – and in real-time. On the fly. It acts very much like the late, lamented Google Wave in this regard.
  6. Extremely active development, as pointed out by my Stepcase Lifehack colleague Chris Smith.
  7. Lowest barrier to entry of any other comprehensive task manager out there. I’ve already brought 5 colleagues into Asana because of the email integration and the price. Which is…well…free in this instance.
  8. The folks behind it have the passion, expertise (not just in the technology realm but in the GTD/productivity realm) and resources to build something stellar.

Notice I stopped at the number eight, which turned sideways looks an awful lot like the symbol for infinity. That’s no coincidence, as I really think Asana has legs. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have abandoned the premier productivity app for OS X and iOS to make it my new task manager of choice.

A Brave New World

I’m just scratching the surface of what Asana can do. I’ve spent over a month dwelling in it exclusively, and there’s a lot more to discover – especially since it is being constantly developed.

There will be things about OmniFocus that I miss, such as Siri integration, the Weekly Review function and the fact that it has a button in Launch Center while Asana does not.2 But after weighing all of those factors, Asana still wins out.

I live my life beyond my Mac, and Asana does too. I’ve evolved in my productivity mindset and Asana is a much better fit where I’m at now. Asana lets me craft my life better on all fronts, and that’s more important me – now more than ever.

Asana gives me an advantage…and I’ll be sharing how it does that here going forward. Whether you adopt Asana like I have or not, it’ll make for some interesting reading.

New to Asana? Have you been using it for a while and want to get more out of it? Then purchase the book I co-authored with fellow Asana aficionado Jeremy Roberts called Do Better With Asana. It’s the ultimate Asana resource that features tactics, tips, and tricks that will turn you into an Asana action figure. Buy Do Better with Asana directly here or through Amazon.

1I actually prefer Asana’s layout to OmniFocus’.
2I’m hoping a URL Scheme for that arrives soon.