Elisabeth Ramos-Torrescano

Can Project Management Achieve a Zen-like State?

“Huh?” you ask?  The typical project management state of mind is angst-ridden and chaotic.  There are too many projects with too many tasks and too many people to manage.  Then there is the inventory and handling of the content in order to check-off completed tasks to complete the projects.  And so it goes, until the mind becomes a tangled mess that brings on the dire need for a cup of coffee and a candy bar.

Three weeks before the beginning of a new quarter became the trigger point for inducing this project management panicked state of mind.  The bits of content and emails started rolling in which prompted growing task lists, phone calls, and meetings with my production assistant.  We couldn’t seem to get the information contained in any organized way where we felt in control.  We also found that in this morass of information, we were making mistakes.

Then along came Asana.   Asana is a cloud-based project management tool whose tag line is “Teamwork without email. Asana puts conversations and tasks together so you can get more done with less effort.”  YES!  This is exactly what we needed to get out of the vortex of swirling emails and task lists.  We piloted it for the first few weeks of the quarter when we usually get more technical questions and inevitably more fires to put out.   We created a “workspace” and then a project folder for each course.  Tasks can be quickly assigned to a specific project, then assigned to a team member, and given a due date.   Content can be attached to each project from Dropbox or a local drive.  In addition, each task has a comment box that can be populated with notes which is  automatically sent to anyone following the task.  This is helpful for answering questions quickly or for clarification about a task without picking up the phone.  The mobile app is very convenient to use during meetings when additional tasks need to be added or on the morning commute to see what the priorities are for the day.
Asana image

Asana has brought a peace and calmness that I did not think was possible in the realm of project management.  My production assistant and I are not forwarding emails, hunting each other down via phone or scribbling to-do lists during meetings that only then have to be transcribed into an email or explained over a phone call.   We have achieved a clarity and calmness that, I suppose, is close to a Zen-like state of mind.  We know where we are and what needs to be done, so our effort can be put towards achieving our tasks and projects.  Asanas in yoga are positions of the body that will restore well-being.  The project management tool, Asana, has certainly brought a sense of well-being and control and allowed us to make room for bringing more creativity and innovation into our daily work.

Elisabeth Ramos-Torrescano

About Elisabeth Ramos-Torrescano

Lisa wears two hats at DePaul. She is the Assistant Director of Information Technology and Program Development for the School of Nursing, and a Senior Instructional Designer for Department of Health Sciences and the Master’s of Public Health. She has fifteen years of experience working in educational, non-profit, internet start-ups, and publishing organizations in positions that leverage her background in user experience, instructional design, and leadership. Lisa earned her B.A in American Studies from Northwestern University, and a M.B.A with a concentration in Health Sector Management from DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. Lisa is in the throes of raising 3 teenage boys, but she makes time to ride her bike, try out new recipes weekly, garden, travel, and attend cultural events around the city.

2 thoughts on “Can Project Management Achieve a Zen-like State?

  1. Great advice, Elisabeth. As people grow to learn their trade in project management, any tool that they can use to keep their sanity is useful. Many people use MS Project or other tools to keep track of tasks, but I can definitely see the value of having a mobile server to track tasks for an entire project team. It’s an easy way to remember and keep track of what needs to be done to make a project successful.

  2. If you’d like a tool for managing your time and projects, you can use this web-application inspired by David Allen’s GTD:

    GTD Agenda.com

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote and Google Calendar, and also comes with mobile version, and Android and iPhone apps.

Leave a Reply