When you hear the word 'system' do the words 'boring', 'work' and 'mechanistic' pop up? In this post we'll answer the question 'what is a system?; and share why we think systems rock.
When you run your own business, there’s a lot of pressure to “stay in the know” with the latest tips and strategies. We don’t want you to suffer from information overload.
Our fear of being left behind often compels us to subscribe to every newsletter, get every free eBook, buy every program that professes to double our income, and read every “5 Hacks for Building Your List” type of blog post.
After a while, we realize that we don’t have enough fingers to stay pressed firmly on the pulse of our industry, keep up with our workload, and show up for our families.
Something has to give.
YOU DON’T WANT TO DROWN IN THE EXPERT SOUP! HERE ARE SOME TIPS:
- Follow the advice of just a few experts who really excite you.
- Set aside 50-60 minutes two or three times a week to study their recommendations.
- Build in time to share what you’ve learned with your team or your readers.
You’ll experience greater productivity and better results.
HOW TO COLLECT & PROCESS INFORMATION TO AVOID INFORMATION OVERLOAD
When you get emails from the marketing experts, you probably take a quick glance at them and then let them clutter up your inbox until you get around to reading them.
Get rid of the clutter by getting the emails set up in Asana.
1. CREATE A PROJECT IN ASANA FOR COLLECTING RESOURCES
You can name this something like “Latest News” or “Interesting Resources” so that you have one place where all your resources are stored.
2. ADD FOUR SUBHEADINGS WITHIN THE PROJECT.
In Asana, you can create subheadings by just typing the name of the category as a task and then ending with a colon.
Your four subheadings will be:
- Action Items
Categories keep your resources organized and prevent you from losing useful resources.
3. ADD RESOURCES TO THE CATEGORIES
Find a resource you’ve been meaning to dig into and title it as a task*.
(*Yes, you can just forward e-mails into Asana, but I suggest being more selective. Take a minute to manually record the resource. Otherwise, you’ll end up with another graveyard of articles and newsletters.)
Let’s say this resource is about building your list.
The task would read “Build your list in 7 steps in 7 days.” Then, you can add the link to the description of that task. All links in Asana are live, so you can simply reference the article with a strategy you want to test.
After that, assign the article a due date (and time!), so you can read it later during your designated study time.
You’ll find resources faster and save time by titling the resource instead of simply copying and pasting the link.
Plus, you’ll begin to see which topics are reaching a critical mass, which can encourage you to scale back on collecting and start taking more action.
4. DECIDE ON YOUR ACTION ITEMS
Once you’ve had a chance to fully understand the resource, you may decide that you want to change something in your business.
Under your “Action Items” category, create a new task like “Write an email to automatically go out to new subscribers.”
In the description section, add the link to the resource that inspired you and any other info that will help you complete the task. Then, schedule a due date and add it to any other related projects like “Marketing.”
To add your task to an additional project, hover over the name of the project the task currently belongs to (“Latest News” or “Interesting Resources”), click on the little pencil icon to the right of the title and then on the plus sign icon.
In the window that pops up, type in the name of another project you want this task to belong to.
This step is crucial because it encourages you to take action on something new you’ve learned.
Remember, the point of collecting resources is the chance to put the information into action and ultimately increase your bottom line.
5. RECORD YOUR “A-HA” INSIGHTS
We’ll often read something new and have ideas that don’t necessarily translate into immediate action. You still want to record your insights, as they could be valuable for future projects.
Title a task with the gist of your insight, like “Program about keeping healthy as an entrepreneur” and expand on your idea in the description. It may also be useful to include the link for the resource that inspired you for later reference.
If you’re working with a team in your task management system, this framework invites them to engage in conversation about ideas you have in a different way.
With Asana’s commenting and tagging feature, you can have rich conversations and brainstorm all in one place.
BONUS: USE THE SAME APPROACH WHEN DOING AN ONLINE PROGRAM.
To keep track of your progress as you go through an online program, you can use the same framework. Just tweak the first two categories.
- Action Items
In the “Materials” section, you can assign links and due dates so you stay on track, whether it’s a live course or not, and in the “Homework” category, you can list all of the assignments you need to complete
When you’re using a framework like this, it becomes more likely that you’ll complete the course ensuring that the program will be far more valuable.
LEARN TO DO MORE WITH LESS
Letting go of information that “could” be good for your business won’t be easy!
You’re going to be tempted to subscribe to more newsletters. You might even convince yourself that you need that new program on list building.
Create boundaries for yourself by asking simple questions. Do I have time in my schedule to go through everything this program requires? or Do I really need more tips on list building or is the current plan that I’m using worth sticking to for a few more months?
The trick isn’t to avoid all new resources. The skill is to discern which ones you’ll actually be able to implement in your business and see them through to their full potential.
BACK TO YOU
What is your favorite tool to deal with information overload? Do you have a system you are already using?
There is no doubt that Asana is a powerful tool that will help you delegate tasks to your team members.
All of its features serve to make communication easier and to help everyone complete tasks and projects on time.
Let’s take a look at how easy it can be to delegate with Asana.
When team members don’t complete tasks according to your standards or on time, it can put important projects, like your next launch, behind schedule and cost you unexpected time and money.
So how can you delegate with Asana so that your team always exceeds your expectations?
Steal my go-to scripts for delegating to an assistant in Asana:
THREE WAYS TO DELEGATE WITH ASANA TO ASSIGN CLEAR & ACTION-ORIENTED TASKS
1. ARE YOU ASSIGNING JUST ONE TASK OR A SERIES OF TASKS?
Imagine you want to ramp up your guest posting before your next launch.
After thinking about what blog or publication you want to make a pitch to, you create a task in Asana for your assistant such as “Put together a pitch for Huffington Post”.
Your assistant often helps with copywriting tasks, so at first glance, it may seem like there’s nothing wrong.
However, there is an issue that might cause problems down the line. The issue is with the wording.
SIMPLIFY WORDING AND BREAK DOWN TASKS INTO STEPS.
What does “put together” really mean? Is it one step, or is it three steps masquerading as one?
According to David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, some single-step verbs are “book”, “brainstorm”, “outline”, and “draft”, while some multi-step verbs are “analyze”, “look into”, “handle”, and “build”.
BEFORE YOU CREATE A TASK, ASK YOURSELF “IS THIS TASK REALLY JUST ONE-STEP, OR DOES IT REQUIRE MULTIPLE STEPS”?
In the example below, “put together” could be three steps, which may include:
- Brainstorm three angles for Huffington Post
- Research already existing articles on X topic on Huffington Post
- Write the first draft of pitch for Huffington Post
If a task requires multiple steps, break those down and plan the due dates accordingly. You can do this in Asana by creating a new task for each step or by creating a list of subtasks.
When you’re clear about the size of your tasks, that clarity is often followed by action.
2. WHEN I DELEGATE WITH ASANA, WHAT ARE MY EXPECTATIONS?
Each time you create a task or start a project, you have a vision of what the end product will look like and you know how this one project plays a role in your bigger vision.
- When a task is completed and doesn’t look the way you imagined it would, you’re disappointed.
- You wonder if maybe your assistant wasn’t right for the job or that you expected too much.
While either could be a possibility, it’s likely there was one root cause:
You never specified your expectations.
To continue with the pitching example, beneath the task “Brainstorm three angles for Huffington Post”, you can write something like:
- “I expect to receive an outline with three variations of a pitch that are relevant to Huffington Post’s current trends” in the Description box on Asana.
- You can follow that up by letting her know how this specific task plays a part in your overall launch strategy.
When you define and communicate your expectations, you put the person in charge of the task in a more favorable situation to get the work done.
3. WHAT QUESTIONS MIGHT MY ASSISTANT HAVE?
While many repetitive tasks can be managed with a checklist, others are more creative and aren’t as easy to wrangle.
Let’s say your assistant came up with three ideas you liked, so you told her to write the first draft of each pitch.
After a week, she sends you the drafts, but you know from reading the first few lines that they’re not compelling.
What went wrong?
While you might be tempted to solve this problem by doing the task yourself, another more sustainable solution is knowing how to answer questions in advance.
START BY BRAINSTORMING A LIST OF QUESTIONS YOU WOULD HAVE IF ASKED TO DO THIS TASK:
- Have I written for any of these websites before?
- Do I have any favorite articles from these websites?
- How long should the pitch be?
- Do I have examples of past pitches that I’ve written?
- What do I consider to be a “good” pitch?
You won’t be able to think of all of the questions she might have – after all, we don’t expect you to be psychic!
However, taking a few extra minutes to brainstorm what other information you need to share will give your assistant a better understanding of what the final product should look like.
PROVIDE IMPORTANT RESOURCES.
Brainstorming can also give you perspective on the types of resources to provide so your assistant can deliver the best possible product.
These resources may include items like:
- Examples of pitches you’ve thought were compelling
- Websites that give advice on writing pitches.
You can include all of this information in the Description section of the task, or as attachments.
If you want to make guest blogging an ongoing marketing activity, you might consider creating an entire Guest Blogging project and put sample pitches or any other resources into separate tasks and just link to those tasks when you give instructions to your assistant.
What’s more, Asana has a powerful commenting feature so if your assistant has further questions, she can comment on the task and all of your responses will be kept in one organized location.
BONUS TIP FOR WHEN YOU DELEGATE WITH ASANA:
When you want to bring someone’s attention, use the @ sign to tag them.
When you tag a person, Asana sends them a notification that they were mentioned and adds them as a follower of that task, so, they’re notified about every change to this task moving forward. You can also use the @ sign to cross-reference tasks (or even projects).
By answering questions and providing guidance in advance, you cut down on confusion while creating an ideal environment for your task to get done just the way you want it.
REMEMBER TO REVIEW
Before you assign a task, take a moment to review what you’ve written and ask yourself a simple question:
Would I be able to successfully carry out this task if I were sitting behind someone else’s computer screen?
If the answer is no, take a few extra minutes to correct explanations that don’t make sense or to include more information. This preparation will help you and your team stay productive and deliver extraordinary results.
BACK TO YOU
Which step are you eager to implement when you delegate tasks in Asana?
We’ve already established that there are a variety of unconventional Business uses for a Trello, including planning your webinars and keeping track of your metrics.
Now we want to show you how you can create a blogging system using Trello just as easily.
If you’re not already familiar with Trello, it is based on a Japanese concept called “kanban” boards, which help you focus on status in projects as opposed to due dates.
This approach gives you a clear indication of where tasks are stopping, or becoming bottlenecks, and it’s visual, which can be appealing to all you right-brained entrepreneurs. :]
So let’s see how you can use Trello to manage your editorial calendar and help you make sure that you never miss publishing an article.
HOW TO TURN BLOGGING INTO A SYSTEM USING TRELLO
1. Write a list for each stage of the process
Each list in Trello corresponds to a stage of your project. With that in mind, write lists for each stage of the blogging process.
An example of the stages you might have are:
- To Write/Assign
- Currently Writing
- Currently Editing
- Ready to Be Published
Once you create the lists, you can create a new card to represent each blog post that goes through the system.
Once you identify the stages involved in your blogging process, you’ll have a better handle on how to manage the entire process.
2. Create checklists
Even though Trello focuses on stages, it’s also a great tool for completing smaller, individual tasks.
For example, if your blog post is in the “Ready to Be Published” stage, you might create a checklist that looks similar to this:
- Include SEO, title, meta description, keywords
- Select category
- Format the post (headers and subheaders, color of headlines, etc.)
- Check preview
- Publish or schedule article
If you have a team member who assists you, you can tag them using the @ symbol after their tasks in the checklists.
You can keep this checklist as a master template under the Resources list, and when you move a card to the Ready to Be Published list, you can copy that checklist to the card you’re working on.
Creating checklists in advance and copying them to relevant cards takes the guesswork & cognitive effort out & highlights the necessary steps to take when creating content.
3. Assign labels
Labels are a feature that offer a general overview of what’s happening in your blogging process, which is particularly important if you’re managing guest posts or working with team members.
You can assign labels to help you immediately see the progress of each article, like:
- Due date set
- Requires attention
This is also helpful because when you use Trello’s search feature, you can see which cards require attention or which are currently being researched.
When you assign labels to your cards, you’re able to immediately see which pieces of the process need your attention and the overall progress of each article.
Publish your blog posts on time & never forget a step using @Trello. Tweet this!
START USING TRELLO!
What does it actually look like when a blog post makes its way through the entire process?
Here’s an example of one blog post going through each stage.
1. Idea: How to use Trello to manage your editorial calendar
- Create new card titled with the blog post idea.
- Add description: This would be a great addition to our series of articles on Trello!
2. Move card from Idea to Currently Writing list.
- Assign due date.
- Assign member to write.
- Assign label of “Due date set”.
3. Move card from Currently Writing to Currently Editing.
- Attach document or include link to live document.
- Copy Editing Checklist from Templates to Card.
- Assign relevant tasks to members.
4. Move card from Currently Editing to Ready to Be Published.
- Copy Ready to Be Published Checklist from Templates to Card.
- Assign relevant tasks to members.
5. Move card from Ready to Be Published to Published/Marketing.
- Change label to Published.
- Copy Marketing Checklist from Templates to Card.
- Assign relevant tasks to members.
- You can turn on a calendar view within Trello. Go to Show Menu → Power Ups.
- You can also sync your Trello due dates with your Google Calendar or iCal.
STICK WITH WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
Trello won’t be for everyone, so don’t be discouraged if this system doesn’t work for you.
Based on your business’s demands and your tendencies, you may be better suited to Asana or Evernote. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and there is no one *right* way. Just stick with what works for you.
BACK TO YOU
Do you use Trello to manage your blogging process? How have you made it work for you? If it hasn’t worked for you, where did you struggle?