Why I gave up on Asana after 15 minutes

January 2, 2016

So, let’s go to asana.com and give it a try.

I can sign up with my Google account? Cool.
Mandatory permission to “Manage my contacts”? Not so cool.

Guess I’ll do it the old fashioned way and sign up using my email address.

Let’s see how it looks. Ok, I have a fancy loading animation. It takes a while, let’s hope it’s only on first start…
Well, NOPE! If I hit reload, bam it needs a full 5 seconds again to show up.

That’s on a top-notch laptop with fast internet connection. And that’s to display an empty task list. Gmail loads twice faster to show me dozens of emails.

Moving on.

There’s a bright, eye-catching, uppercase “WHO’S MISSING FROM YOUR TEAM” notification in the sidebar. I intend to use it as a personal tool so I’m not missing anyone, let’s get rid of this.

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 12.46.24.png

So, how do I do that? no “close” icon anywhere. Maybe if I click on the plus sign then add no one? Ok that works
…for about 3 seconds. Then the notification shows up again. Oh god.

Ok nevermind, I’ll just keep the sidebar closed.

Let’s add a first task. I click on “Add Task”, type “test”, then hit enter.

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 12.54.49.png

Hitting enter actually created a second task. Maybe it will be pruned when I leave this view?

I hit reload: nope, the empty task was definitely persisted. Grr.

My goal is to make task lists for multiple projects. For each project I want lists for

  • pending tasks (backlog)
  • tasks for the day
  • tasks for the week.

Simple enough right?

So! I create my first proper projects and add a few tasks. Ok, the UI is nice and responsive.

If I assign tasks to myself I see them appear in the “My Tasks” view, tagged with the project name. This is starting to make sense.

And now there are two sections under My Tasks: “New Tasks” and “Upcoming”, where I can drag and drop tasks. Great! Now let’s add some new sections to fit my needs.

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 15.49.34

Mmh. How exactly do I create a new section? I have to google it. I end up on their documentation:

Hover over the Add Tasks button, then click the Add Section button to create a Section in your project

Oh come on. Talk about discoverability.

So I click on “Add Section” and make a new one called: “Test Section”. And, lo and behold:

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 13.18.02.png

It actually created a new task. WHAT.

After some experimentation it turns out the colon at the end of the task name determines if it’s a simple task or a section. Ok.

But even when I do add a colon, I don’t get the fancy foldable section I expected:

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 13.20.02.png

I can’t drop tasks in my section, only put tasks “under it”. And if I move my section, the tasks “under it” aren’t moved with it.

Maybe I should use subtasks instead?

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 13.28.21.png

But then I don’t see them in the main task list, they are hidden inside each task. This defeats the purpose of a task list… I want to have a clear view of everything.

(By the way what’s up with their shortcuts? “Tab + S”? Since when is Tab used as a modifier key?)

Ok, let’s try the Dashboard view. I add my two test projects to it:

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 13.30.59.png

It looks nice, but it’s slow as hell. It takes 6 literal seconds to display a dashboard with 2 projects, with a grand total of 5 tasks. And if you go to another view then go back bam! another 6 seconds to wait. Wow.

Now, let’s say I want to see the tasks in Project 1 from the dashboard. Maybe I can just click on the Project 1 box? nope, this opens some modal box.

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 13.36.04.png

I couldn’t find a way to go from the dashboard to the actual project without going through the sidebar.

At this point I had seen enough and gave up on this product.


  1. You might like workflowy.com

  2. Asana just finished a completely new redesign a couple months ago. So if you don’t like it today, just come back in 6 months and maybe it’ll be more to your liking!

    (Except for the performance part. That just gets worse over time.)

  3. I think your main issue lies with Asana being a collaboration tool that you are trying to use for personal task management. Keep looking though, there is a bounty of task management tools, I’m sure one will be to your liking.

  4. You might really like wrike.com – they have a free personal version which does limit the depth of foldering hierarchies, but for a personal account you’re probably not having a ton of folders in folders. :)

  5. If you want to use it as a personal tool (and avoid all the Team stuff), click your profile icon on the top-right and select “Personal Projects”.

    • The only problem with that in my opinion is the fact that you can’t use “TAGS” in the personal projects, and that sucks :(

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