How Asana Saved my Marriage
In November 2017 my wife and I decided to change our life trajectory and take a leap of uncertainty by moving abroad with our children (12 and 14 years old) for a year. I wrote about some of the underlying reasons in a blog post titled, Co-Pilots and Bystanders. Today we live in San Jose, Costa Rica with a rich community of friends, kids at an adequate school, and a new business that I launched. But this is not about sheer bliss by any means. In fact, we have had a lot of very difficult family struggles. But these are struggles we would also have had at home in Seattle. Now we just get to work through them in anonymity and a bit of paradise. But the fact that we were able to make this life move and strengthen our family unit and marriage really comes down to…. logistics.
Details. Details. Details.
To pick up a life and move to Central America requires hundreds of small tasks to move the ball forward. It is one thing to say you are going to swing for the fences. It is another to actually make contact with the ball and do it. Doing it for us meant that Melissa and I needed to be partners. We needed to have a goal. That goal needed to have a plan. That plan needed to have tasks. Those tasks needed to have due dates. Those due dates needed to have someone responsible for getting it done. This might sound similar to what entrepreneurs face in building and executing business strategy, which, in effect, is what Melissa and I did. We built a business strategy of launching a life in a foreign country and we needed to be well coordinated. And this is how Asana saved my marriage.
The Power of the Plan.
Asana is a mobile and desktop project management application that makes it extremely easy to organize, track and engage around tasks toward a goal. We set up a goal in Asana titled “Costa Rica Move” (appropriate title). We created project section headings like “Social”, “Random”, “Pet”, “Education”, “Entry into Country”, “House Rental”, etc.. Underneath those section headers we worked together to create the tasks. It was a ton of fun (“fun” in air quotes) to work with my wife to create the plan. It made us true partners. Once we brainstormed on the plan, we determined which tasks each of us would own. The owner would then create the due date. Now, with all the thinking done, we just needed to execute.
Staying in Touch.
The last thing we wanted to do was nag each other and Asana made avoiding that easy. As tasks were performed, we could keep detailed notes about status/progress, so we weren’t badgering and annoying each other. Each week we would spend dedicated time going through the Plan and seeing what we needed to add/modify. I know it sounds a bit weird but partnering with my wife on a project created a forcing function for us to talk about a shared goal, something we had struggled with as I was trying to run my start-up and she was trying to get her business off the ground.
Completing the Plan.
What I really enjoyed was completing tasks and showing that we were making measurable progress toward our goal. We finally completed all the tasks and, without a doubt, our transition to Costa Rica was much smoother because we did the comprehensive thinking up-front and just executed.
While we used Asana for a big, life changing project of relocating our family for a year to Costa Rica, we could (and should) be using it for less consequential initiatives as well. Asana forced us to get clear on a goal, align around the responsibility to achieve it, execute and then celebrate when it was done. That is a formula that can drive progress whether in your business, your partnerships, or in your marriage. And…the payoff has been awesome!