How We Use Asana to Plan Our Content Calendar
Still haven’t found your groove when it comes to planning your content calendar?
Yea, we’re not sure that feeling ever actually goes away. Plan as we might, there are always times when shit gets busy and we’re scrambling to find content. But, after a TON of experimenting with different apps and versions of spreadsheets we’ve finally found a system for planning things out that works for us (well, most of the time at least), so we wanted to share it because it could be just the thing you’re looking for too.
We use Asana which, if you haven’t heard of it yet, is an online project management tool that lets you plan workflows and organize and collaborate on ideas. If you want to read more about it you can read the recent blog post we did on it here, but for now, we’ll focus on how we use it to plan our content calendar.
So, without further ado, below are the steps we take to plan things out.
ADDING A PROJECT
Once you’ve got your account setup, you’ll end up in a portal that looks something like the one pictured below and the first thing you’ll want to do is create a new project. To do this you’ll need to click on the little + sign at the top of the “teams” section on the left-hand menu.
Once you’ve hit that, click “Add Project” and a new screen will come up. At the top, select “blank project” and then enter the project name as prompted. Under layout, make sure you select “board” and from there feel free to choose your own privacy settings as you see fit.
Then hit “create project” and you’ll have a new board that you can start working with.
SETTING UP YOUR COLUMNS
When you use the "board" layout, as opposed to the "list" layout, you end being able to create columns and, in each column, you can add cards that represent tasks. You can drag and drop these cards from column to column, so what we've done is set up columns for each kind of content that we have to plan. In our case, that means we end up with columns for blogs, emails, and Instagram, but that might be different for you and that's more than fine.
In addition to these columns, we also have one in there labelled "content bank" and one called "resources to make". We use the content bank one as a place to dump ideas as we think of them and having that has meant that, even when we're not on top of our content planning game, we still have a bunch of ideas somewhat ready to go. All we have to do is drag and drop them into the column we want. Honestly, content bank people!!! It's a lifesaver!
The resources to make one is where we can parse out the prep work for our content because the person making the resource or the graphics or the whatever isn't always the same person who is putting the final content together. You can technically create subtasks within the other tasks and assign things this way, but we've just found that having separate cards means things don't get missed.
So, with all of that in mind, go ahead and create as many columns as you need and label them accordingly.
ADDING IN YOUR CONTENT PLANS
Once you've got your columns all setup (and believe us, you're probably going to end up changing this a few times before you settle on something you really like) you can start to add in your content plans and do your brain dump into your content bank.
To do this, you just click on the + under each column header and a new card will appear that you can write your idea on.
You'll notice a little outline of a person and a calendar on each card too. You can click on the person to assign the task to a member on your team (that is if you're not flying solo) and you can click on the calendar to add in a due date.
From there, you can click on the task card itself and a more comprehensive space to add in notes will appear. Here you can add in links and files that you'll need for your content, notes from your research, subtasks, and, if you are working with a team, you can also tag people in comments so they get a notification that something needs their attention.
And that's kind of it!
Seems to simple right? But, really, why does it need to be more complicated than this?
The only other thing that we do, that you won't see in the examples (because, yes, this was an example planning board... not our real one) is we break down our content for our blogs and newsletters into the categories "Design", "Build", and "Grow".
What that means is we've identified the kinds of content we want to focus on and we rotate through those categories to ensure we're keeping things fresh, but consistent. We already wrote a whole blog on this idea though, so we head there if you'd like to find out more.
In the end, no matter what system you land on it's never going to give you more time in the day to actually get things done, so be kind to yourself in those moments when you fall behind in your planning and scheduling. We sure try to do that.
People don't often talk about it, but producing quality content takes SO much work and effort it's actually nuts. Big companies have teams and teams of people to do this for them and when you're just a small fry, it's just not possible to replicate what they do.
So go ahead and take that pressure off your shoulders and do what works for you. We've all got enough other stuff to contend with anyways!