Recently, Mike Vardy, of Productivityist, and I announced a joint project called Do Better With Asana. Do Better With Asana has, at its heart, a book. While we are using many tools to help us deliver the final product, I would like to share with you the tools involved in crafting the content for the book, as well as other components of the final product. I do this in the hope that you perhaps discover an idea about how you can use the same tools, or that you’re inspired to start a project that has been stewing in the recesses of you mind.
Clipping for Ideas
After Mike and I had exchanged a couple of emails and managed to schedule a Skype call between Australia and Canada (not an easy thing to do), it was as simple as hanging around for the
phone computer to ring. Wrong. Before that I was already finding and saving articles from the web that had anything to do with Asana, especially those that touched on great examples, or time-saving tricks. Using the WebClipper from Evernote I was able to capture and save these articles to my Evernote account. Often when clipping from the web I find it quicker to make sure that the web page is saved to my default notebook, which I have renamed to “.Inbox”. This allows me to focus on the task of clipping great content instead of worrying about filing the content to the right notebook and be concerned about my tagging structure. Clip now, sort later.
When it was time for Mike and I to catch up and grease the wheels, Evernote again came to the rescue. While we were catching up and discussing our ideas I used the keyboard shortcut CTRL+ALT+N to quickly create a new note, and started to jot things down. This is one of my favourite shortcuts. I much prefer to start a new note with the at least a proper note window. The Quick Note tool of Evernote I tend to use as a temporary holding place for information that I know I don’t need to hold on to. Straight after our call I updated the note title and tagged it appropriately. Again, I prefer to use keyboard shortcuts to jump to the tags section (CMD+’) or note title (CMD+L) – I find it much more efficient than diving out for the mouse.
It was obvious that Mike and I were both excited by this project. We quickly dubbed it “The Asana Project”. Within that very first note created from our very first call, the content and planning started to emerge. I wrote down a list of projects that would need to be created in Asana for us to collaborate on. We had even already started to note some tasks to be added to those projects.
Later, our calls would be planned by first creating a note titled “Things to Discuss – WORKING”. Prior to any call we both would add any items we wanted to discuss to this note. Ah, but the sharing! Let me back up a step.
On that first call it was quickly apparent that we needed a place to store those little bits of odd information. Those nuggets that are not necessarily actionable, but that are a gold mine for referencing and sourcing ideas. After a brief chat about “how are we going to share and work on this?” there was only one answer. For those nuggets for information I created a notebook in Evernote appropriately called “Asana Project” and shared it with Mike. For the project components and actionable things I created a new workspace in Asana, again called “Asana Project”.
Getting to Done
Articles, screenshots, website mockups and graphics all went into the Asana Project notebook in Evernote. Confused yet? Even articles about web design and the like were captured there. Those tasks that we each needed to take action on were promptly added to Asana. Where something in Asana related to something in Evernote, I would link to it by copying a note link from Evernote and pasting it into the description or comment section of a task in Asana. Similarly, when it made sense to show that some content in Evernote was related to a certain action in Asana I would copy the URL to the task in Asana and turn the appropriate text in Evernote into a link so that I could quickly jump from Evernote to Asana, and vice versa.
Note links in Evernote are one of the absolute best features. It may seem trivial at first, but when you start to use them it becomes clear how truly powerful it is to be able to link all your notes not only together, but to the outside world, and from the outside world link back directly to a single note from your own personal Evernote account. Awesome. Once again my trick of choice for grabbing a note link from Evernote is using the keyboard shortcut. It took me a little longer to make this one a habit, but now that it is, I love it. On my Mac I only have to hit CTRL+ALT+CMD+C and I have the link ready to go in the system’s clipboard. Then, hitting CMD+V in any place that I can write text will paste the link. CTRL+ALT+CMD+C might seem like an overly cumbersome keyboard command, but it’s really just three keys next to each other +C. Simple!
There are a tonne of writing tools out there. Originally Mike and I planned to write everything using Google Drive. Sounded great at the time, but not so practical for me. I do a lot of writing while travelling so I don’t always have the reliable connection to the internet that Google Drive demands, especially when using an iPad (where I do the bulk of my writing). To overcome this I switched to Evernote. I’m able to create a new note and start writing even while I’m offline. The only thing I must always be wary of is that if I’ve made any changes to some content on my Mac, I make sure Evernote is all sync’d on my iPad before I shut anything down and disconnect. That way, I can open the note in my iPad and keep going where I left off.
We still use Google Drive. After a section is ready to go it’s simply copied up into Drive. Why bother? Google Drive has more powerful word processing power and gives us the ability to comment and collaborate on the content without simply overwriting what was there. It’s the best of both world. After it’s been copied up to Google Drive I make a comment at the bottom of the note in Evernote and then paste the link to the open document in Google Drive. It’s all truly seamless.
Personally, I use Evernote every day without fail, for as much of my life as I can. It’s my system for capturing every bit of reference material and writing everything that I write. Ha! I even wrote a book about it! So it really is no surprise that Evernote is one of the few tools Mike and I have been using to conceptualise, formalise, and create what we expect to be the best, most complete, and most effective product that will help you and/or your team not just get started with Asana, but absolutely crush it!
Stay tuned for a post in the coming weeks that outlines how we’ve been using Asana to create a product all about Asana.