The Project Management System I Hated at First, but Grew to Love

I am a gal who loves tools.

From paper planners, Google Calendar, to Bonsai, my invoicing system - I’m dedicated to finding efficiency anywhere I can get it. The issue is that in today’s world, tools are a dime a dozen, and it’s hard to sift through the myriad apps and find The One. Honestly, finding my husband was easier than finding the perfect project management system.

Tech-savvy should be my middle name, as I never really have a hard time adjusting to a new system for a new client. Because of that, I can be a bit of a chameleon for clients in general, but when it comes to my own workflow and working with my collaborates, which system do I use?

Basecamp was my first love, but didn’t last.

Unfortunately, while Basecamp is an amazing tool for keeping files, chats, and to-dos in one place, I felt that the individual posts got confusing. You’d forget where you made that one comment, and misunderstand whether you’re supposed to update on a to-do or on a chat itself. I still use Basecamp when working with Shopify-savvy coders Taproom, but when I’m flying solo, it was struck from the list.

Paymo is solid, but ultimately too much.

I use Paymo when working with Inspry, a dev and design agency who has me working on great UX and custom web projects. They utilize Paymo, a system that integrates time tracking, invoicing, and a great flow for taking a task from to-do to internal approval to finished. Unfortunately for my personal use, Paymo works best with a large, time-tracking team.

Trello is great, but never fit the aesthetic I needed.

I love Trello and do use it with teams. I love the board format and how easy it is to get projects set up. In my early days as a designer, I used it as a makeshift CRM, dragging items from “emailed” to “Meeting setup” to “client is a GO!” I loved dragging items back and forth, but truly I didn’t see it was a task management tool, but rather a CRM or flow based tool.

Slack is my favorite app, so not applicable for the title of this article, but deserves a shoutout.

I love Slack. Adore Slack. Will name my first child Slack Lopez. Slack is THE chat app for friends and colleagues alike. The different channels help funnel communication and keep conversation on-topic. I use it for all of my organizations and even have one for my own personal friend group! That Slack has been through some things.

Then, I found Asana.

At first, I resisted Asana. The app seemed complex, with too many options, too many places to chat and communicate. I also didn’t understand the difference between teams and projects, and felt that the barrier for entry was too high.

Of course, all it takes is for one client to need me to use it, and then I become a pro. After my first client onboarded me, I was hooked. The flexibility to choose between a list format (for my great task-based items) or the boards (for my makeshift CRM) made it possible for me to fit all sorts of projects into its workflow.

I now use Asana to:

  • keep my leads organized in a CRM format

  • assign tasks to my contractors, virtual assistant, and developers

  • keep a project flow internally

  • work with several different teams

  • design white label logos for other teams, and keep those conversations streamlined

Asana’s aesthetic is also second to none. The clean UI and inviting color scheme help me stay focused - and you can set your own background!

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