Asana Power Tools launched

Crosscheck has laid its first egg, and it was nursed crafted for Asana users looking to empower their favourite task management tool. It scratches a few itches I often have with Asana, but it’s also a proof of concept for the bigger vision of collaborating across tools. Here are the core features:

  • Quick-add tasks, just like the official Asana Chrome extension but with more task fields (projects, tags, assignee, followers, etc.).
  • Copy and move tasks across workspaces.
  • Sync Asana projects with GitHub repositories, comments and all.

I’ll be going over each feature and their uses, but if you can’t wait, you will find the app on the Chrome store.

Quick-add to Stay Focused

I have too many thoughts! They pop up all the time. Some are good, some I must not forget, and many are just noise. They are a distraction. They pull me off the task I’m focused on (like writing this article…), and if I don’t somehow address them right now, my brain will nag at me like a 6-year-old asking why he can’t have more candy.

I like to think this is actually a source of creativity, so I’ve always looked for ways to embrace the idea stream while minimizing the side-effects (what was I doing again?). I’ve used a bunch of note takings apps (Evernote most of all) but they tended to accumulate. I now put them all in Asana, which I use all the time. So the ideas automatically become actionable tasks in my Asana inbox, my brain stops the nagging, I can get back to getting things done, and I am happy!

So it now comes down to getting ideas into Asana as fast as possible. Although I keep Asana open all day, Tab-Q is not perfect. I find it a bit slow, quirky, and most importantly, it only adds to the current workspace. Switching workspaces is soooo slow, and I have three of them. Ideas don’t stop at workspace boundaries…

So Crosscheck scratches that itch for me. An idea pops, I punch Alt-c on my keyboard, type it out, give it a couple of tags, projects or followers, press enter, and never look back. The ability to fill in those extra fields also gets the collaborative process going by popping in other people’s inboxes.

Crossing Workspaces

Workspaces are fundamental in Asana: they maximize collaboration within themselves, but keep a clear separation between jobs and your personal life. Sadly, as much as they are needed, I feel workspaces create artificial road blocks in the flow of a day. Asana assumes we are working within a single workspace at a time, and tasks in different workspaces are entirely unrelated. But we all have a fixed amount of time to get through tasks in ALL aspects of our lives.

During lunchtime at work, I have to call the bank for my mortgage renewal, and I have to email some volunteers for the no-profit I’m involved with. While researching competitors for work, I happen on a really cool service I want to try for my personal finances. When I helped a friend to build an SEO project as an Asana guest in his workspace, I figured I should also get some of these tasks done for my own and my job’s websites. Copy each field to notepad, switch workspaces, create new task, paste each field in. Rinse, repeat, turn brain off…

So Crosscheck scratches that itch for me. I select a task in Asana, punch Alt-c on my keyboard, choose a destination workspace, press enter, and never look back. Bonus: if the projects, tags or people on the task are in both workspaces, the copy/move will actually carry them over.

Using Asana for Non-Asana Tasks

If you’re reading this, you probably appreciate Asana’s combination of simplicity and flexibility. It’s great for individuals, and it’s even better when more people use it to collaborate with you. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was using Asana? In reality, no single tools will ever be perfect for everyone, nor should it be. Can you convince your top salesperson to ditch her beloved Salesforce for Asana? Can you convince your best developer to flush his betrothed GitHub for Asana? Even if you could, their performance/motivation/love-of-life would probably drop as a consequence.

The dream here is to let you use Asana to interact with the specialized tools of your collaborators, and do so transparently without changing anything for those collaborators. In effect, solve the collaboration tool conundrum. With Crosscheck I’m introducing a proof of concept that lets you interact with GitHub issues from Asana. Here’s the flow:

  • In Asana, add a couple of hash tags to a project name and description to link it to a GitHub repository.
  • Trigger synchronization from the Crosscheck app, manually or on a schedule.
  • Browse your Asana project, it will contain a task for each GitHub issue.
  • Order, add, edit, and comment on the GitHub issues directly from Asana. Every sync will apply changes both ways.

Once you have GitHub issues in Asana, you get the full power of Asana invisibly layered on GitHub. Add issues to multiple projects, tag them, prioritize them with non-development tasks. Some workflows become a lot simpler: managing roadmaps and backlogs, feeding customer requests to development, getting bugs from support tickets fixed, and keeping people informed of development progress, to name a few. Having a product manager role I often have to bridge multiple teams with multiple tools. So you guessed it, Crosscheck scratches that itch for me too.

What’s Next?

Being a first beta version, Crosscheck has its rough spots. Expect a good deal of polish in the coming weeks. I am looking for feedback, suggestions for new power tools, but really, I want to understand the pains you may have with Asana and its productivity friends. Crosscheck started as a personal project; if you find it useful too and would like more, I’m all ears!

The list of improvements is long, but luckily I’ve got Asana to help me get it done!

Try the app on the Chrome store.

Reach out for [email protected].