Using Asana for GTD: Day 2

Today I want to talk about using Asana for a full day…

How the day went

Physical dread of starting the tyranny of Pomodoros. Worse than the feeling that something is being missed, task wise.

There’s the thought of many small bursts and what activities to do, rather than the certainty of a ‘as it goes’ approach to going through a prioritised workload.

0830 Had to let an electrician in. Did some reading up on new SaaS tech in the meantime.

0915 Caught up on the phone with work colleagues

0945 Need some structure and a plan…. Read up on performing a Daily Review for GTD:

0950 OK time for the review. Check calendar… no meetings. (Tis the week before Christmas and all through the industry, not a creature is stirring, even if just to report software failure misery).

I have a large day length chunk of time, except 90 minutes for lunch from 1100 (I want to get a warm Sandwich, and the guys are really busy from 1200, so best to get there early). That’s 1100-1230 blocked out.

So that means 1000-1100 is three pomodoros worth of work, punctuated by exercises for my legs to keep the Doc off my back.

OK so review is complete. I merged two tasks, so now have four 1 hour, high priority, tasks scheduled for today

I have:-

  • A project write up to do
  • A new Asana coding project for a customer to think of tasks for, and create in Asana
  • Walk the dog
  • Write up and share notes from a previous meeting

I’m deliberately leaving just 4 hours of work in here so I don’t get anywhere near risking a task failing to be done. That would make me sad, so best to underplay it and pick up extra tasks if/when I have time.

The time flow, as it happened!

1000 Write up project notes from yesterday, whilst it’s fresh in the head. Begin pomodoro.

1025 Stretches! 30 seconds per stretch isn’t working, will try 20 secs with 2 reps next time

1030 Continue writing blog post… Finished just before the timer went! This means I spent a very productive hour working on it

1055 More stretches! I have three types of stretches, holding each for 20 seconds with two reps each. Means I can spend extra time on the hamstrings – takes exactly 5 minutes in total now, perfect!

1100 Lunch o’clock! BBIAB…

1140 Got back home from walk to lunch. Got a call from a colleague about a meeting, added two today tasks (<15 minutes each) to cover that off. Now food o’clock, with a bit of Netflix in the background…

1208 Got bored, back to work! Mini Pomodoro time! (15 mins) … else my OCD will kick in if I can’t be aligned with the half hour.

12:20 2 mini tasks done, some personal admin

12:25 Stretches! (third time today… my Doctor will be so proud!)

12:30 Sharing notes on previous meeting… Strange Asana behaviour with tags, then started working. Now also creating a new project and tasks for it.

13:00 Started reading twitter off of timer, got distracted rather than take the dog for a walk…

13:23 Now actually taking the dog for a walk!

14:14 Returned from the dog walk a little worse for wear – he’s bonkers at Christmas!

14:55 Planning the next Pomodoro

15:00 Already ahead of plan! Working on dev tasks I’ve just created

15:25 Stretches x 4

15:28 Mid stretch, get a phone call. Can answer it and deal with it whilst stretching – zero pomodoro interruptions!

15:30 6th Pomodoro of the day! Continuing to work through my dev tasks I created earlier

15:55 OK two tasks complete, working on the third… pomodoro done, now time for the call I was asked about earlier…

16:00 Call about sales work…

16:30 That call done, just making another one and logging some tasks before I forget.

16:48 Sidetracked by early arrival of family…

17:15 Completing pomodoro

17:33 Pomodoro alarm gone, but need to finish this bug fix else I won’t be able to relax tonight…

17:41 Finished bug fix

What did I achieve?

I completed 7 Pomodoro’s (1 more than planned), 4 sets of stretches during the day (1 more than planned), a walk with the dog, and a walk to and from the sandwich shop.

Not to mention a couple of calls I wasn’t expecting, and a pre-meeting meeting prep-call (seriously these things do exist!)

I also completed more tasks than I had assigned to myself in the morning. 2.5 more to be exact.

Feeling happier about Pomodoro’s now. They seem to work for me, and I’m feeling less stressed by the ticking and the amount to fit in to a day.

Certainly, only planning on doing 6 rather than 8 so that I can spend the remaining time exercising, lunching, or having unplanned calls and meeting was useful. I may stick to that from now on. The worst that will happen is I do another couple toward the end of the day – no biggie.

What worked

Pomodoro times and sticking to them worked better, apart from the very last one today, but that can’t be helped.

I’ve not gotten used to navigating tasks, sub tasks, projects, and filtering visible tasks in Asana, which makes life a whole lot easier.

Although early days, especially as I have less calls and emails during Christmas time whilst others are skiving off with their families, I do seem to be more productive. Certainly in aspects of planning the number of work periods and actually executing them. Maybe this stuff does work afterall?

My tasks I completed were planned for a total of 4 hours (I added another 3 tasks worth 5 hours eventually), and I completed 8 hours worth of work, not including breaks and interruptions. One task will wait for tomorrow, but that’s fine – it was a big task!

Pomodoro ticking is very useful to time my stretches! The doc will be pleased with me!

I have a happy puppy dog too.

What didn’t work

My OCD is set off when Pomodoro’s don’t line up with the hour and half hour on my clock… Can’t blame GTD or Asana for that though! Would be nice to have the timer do a ‘re-sync mini pomodoro’ to eat up the time to 25 past or 5 to the hour.

Hellish achy from all the exercise! Hungry too. Time to cook for the family!

…erm… Yeah I think that says it all really!


A GTD approach to the day seems to be working for me this time. The addition of Pomodoro is key to stay focussed and not distracted I think. Definitely try it out if you haven’t before!

Without the combination I don’t think it would work.

Asana’s project structure works well when you have a large chunk of time and you want to plough through a set of project tasks.

The Asana search filtering by tag, and restricting the search to those tagged with ‘Today’ works extremely well for focus and de-stressing. Combined with a daily review first thing, this seems to work great.

I don’t seem to be worrying about having a task hang over until tomorrow, perhaps because I know I can easily accomplish it in my first couple of pomodoros of the day. Thus I don’t feel the need to work tonight like I used to.

Feeling strangely relaxed even though I know, somewhere, there are plenty of tasks to do tomorrow.

What’s next?

I’ll try the same again tomorrow now I’m an old pro.

I’ll dedicate some time to checking out Asana integrations, and integration it with teams as well as software.

Wish me luck!

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