Notion and Asana are two big players in the project management landscape.
Both are cross-platform, powerful project management software that you can use in your web browser and even on your mobile device. They offer a wide range of project management features such as Kanban boards, Gantt charts, calendars, to-do lists, and collaboration.
In this Notion vs Asana comparison, I’ll show you the key differences, features, pricing, pros, cons, and much more.
By the end of this post, you’ll exactly know which tool is the right project management solution for you.
|What are Notion and Asana?||Notion is an all-in-one workspace and collaboration platform for project management, teamwork, personal knowledge management, and more.||Asana is a project management software specializing in streamlined communication (team collaboration), advanced reporting, and task management.|
|Mission||Break away from today’s tools, and bring back the good old wisdom||Organize work in one connected place|
|Anatomy||Pages, databases, and blocks (supports multiple workspaces)||Goals, projects, tasks, subtasks (supports multiple workspaces)|
|Platform||Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Web||Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Web|
|Task management and project management||Winner|
|Pros||– Wide customization options|
– Generous free version
– Advanced databases
|– Capturing tasks is easy|
– In-app automation (rules)
– Native email integration
|Cons||– Lack of native email integration|
– Steep learning curve
– Lack of quick capture
|– Workspace customization is limited|
– Not quite suitable for solo work
|Verdict||Best for centralizing work into one space, knowledge management, and project management for individuals||Best for project management for teams|
Notion vs Asana: Overview
Notion is an all-in-one workspace. It has been among the pioneers of all-in-one tools, which makes it more capable of organizing information than other project management tools.
You can use Notion for team collaboration, customer relationship management, task management, project management, note-taking, personal knowledge management, and so much more.
- Manage your work with different views (Kanban boards, lists, calendars, timelines, tables, galleries).
- Build your project management platform and never miss an important feature again.
- Integrate your system with the Notion API.
- Replace third-party apps like Google Docs and embed the rest inside Notion.
- Collaborate with team members on docs and projects in real time.
- Create customized databases and link them together to surface what you need and when you need them.
Asana is a project management software specializing in streamlined communication (team collaboration), advanced reporting, and task management.
Asana is heavily focused on task management: although you can create complex systems and reporting, Asana fosters getting things done. And, at the end of the day, this is what moves the needle.
- Manage your tasks and projects with different views (Kanban boards, lists, calendars, timelines).
- Streamline your processes with in-app automation.
- Create forms to manage requests.
- Record your screen right from the Asana app and add the video as a comment to the task.
- Set your team’s or company’s goals and track KPIs in Asana.
- See how your team is performing and assure that they don’t get overloaded with tasks.
Now that you have a grasp of Notion and Asana, let’s get down to the Notion vs Asana battle.
Notion vs Asana: Detailed Comparison
History & mission (don’t skip this part)
This Notion vs Asana comparison couldn’t be complete without mentioning how it all began.
I like to start my posts with a brief history and mission of the productivity software I review because it sets the scene. If you understand the driving forces behind the productivity apps and get to know the developers, it can easily influence your final decision.
Now, let me introduce Notion vs Asana.
Notion was first released in 2016 to change the status quo by providing a single workspace to life. You can find a compelling story on Notion’s webpage on how they want to change how we work.
If you happened to follow Notion’s development, not much has changed from the beginning in terms of how this productivity app looks like. If you dive deeper, however, you’ll notice that Notion got 100 times better with new features constantly coming up.
There was a major update on speeding up the application, the Notion editor and the databases are getting better each year, and recently there has been a great investment in the AI feature.
Notion acquired Automate.io, an automation platform, to integrate its functions into the software.
All that said, we can say that Notion is in orbit.
Asana is the real granddaddy of project management tools dating back to 2008. It was co-founded by former Facebook employees Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein.
If you sign up, you’ll see that the developers regularly push out new functions. One of my latest favorites was the weekly focus, which is a short message that is displayed on top of your daily to-do list showing your weekly goal.
In terms of the look & feel, there was a major update years ago. With that update, Asana now looks more similar to ClickUp or Monday (or Notion, if you will) while preserving its identity and functionality. Fortunately, complex functions don’t come at the expense of user experience, although some people find it intimidating to get started with Asana (just like with Notion).
Winner: there’s no clear winner here; I easily sympathize with both options.
Understanding the anatomy of Notion vs Asana can help you use them more effectively. You’ll learn that these tools have very distinct philosophies in how they work and organize information.
There’re three things in Notion’s hierarchy: pages, databases, and blocks. In your Notion workspace, everything is a block, even your pages are blocks when you turn them into subpages. Blocks can be text, to-do lists, headers, images, videos, files, bookmarks, and so much more.
Think of pages as top-level containers such as folders or notebooks. Notion pages can contain blocks and databases.
Databases are structured Notion pages. Think of them as Excel on steroids. Every row in a Notion database is an individual page, which can contain all kinds of properties (metadata) and blocks including text and subpages.
Notion databases can communicate with each other like relational databases through a relation property. Not only that, but you can pull up information from one database to the other via a rollup property, which can aggregate data for you.
All Notion databases can be turned into six different views:
- Board (Kanban board)
- Timeline (Gantt chart)
The beauty of Notion is that a database can be a single page, but you can put multiple databases into an individual Notion page as well. To go one step further, you can create a linked view to your database on any Notion page and then use different filters and sorters to display information.
And to complicate things further, there’re simple tables, which are text tables without functional properties and relations.
You can now see that Notion is incredibly powerful, yet its flexibility can be a double-edged sword for new users.
The Asana workspace has a more conservative hierarchy. Let’s break it down:
- Workspace: you can join a team or company workspace and create your personal one, too. Your workspace contains your projects and related tasks. (Side note: Notion also can have multiple workspaces.)
- Goals: goals are higher-level hierarchies that can be connected to projects to track your progress.
- Projects: projects are the placeholders of your tasks and subtasks. They can be further structured with sections to organize your tasks and can have due dates, notes, and different views (list, board, calendar view, timeline).
- Tasks: tasks are at the heart of your workflow. Each task can be assigned to team members and can contain notes, comments, due dates, files, dependencies, and more.
- Subtasks: each task can contain any number of subtasks and each subtask can carry the same properties that tasks do (due dates, comments, notes, etc.).
There’re a couple of special views in Asana.
The Inbox is a placeholder where all kinds of notifications and messages are landing, while the My Tasks section holds the tasks assigned to you.
Also, you can create saved searches and favorites to put them on the sidebar just as in Notion.
Winner: there’s no clear winner here; Notion has a different approach to project management.
Notion has a bit of a steep learning curve to get you started. Until it hits, you may find the Notion app a bit challenging to use.
In Notion, everything is a block: a text, a header, a page, an image, a file, or a table all can be put together like LEGO-style building blocks.
At first, it can be intimidating sitting in front of a blank screen. Once you get on the right track, however, Notion’s cutting-edge editor, keyboard shortcuts, templates, and database functions will compensate for your efforts.
Otherwise, the app works fast, cross-platform functionality is great and coherent, and the user experience is superior. Notion supports dark mode, and you can toggle light mode with a simple shortcut (Cmd + Shift + L). The mobile experience is quite good, although navigating and quickly entering information can be challenging. With a clever system setup and some widgets, however, you can work relatively smoothly.
Although some people find it difficult to get started with Asana, it has a user-friendly interface. You can easily use this project management app without the advanced functions even for years.
The app works fast, cross platform functionality is great and coherent. The mobile experience is superior. A dedicated desktop app has long been on my wish list, but not long ago Asana released native apps for Windows and Mac, which support dark mode as well. (For some folks, including me, this is a huge one, I know.)
Unfortunately, currently, Notion lacks a powerful in-app automation system that could automate your repetitive work to manage projects. The recently introduced Notion AI, however, can be a huge time-saver for your writing and organizing efforts.
The AI can improve your language, translate text, explain things for you, summarize and draft posts and notes, and even create a to-do list for you. The direct relations of AI to project management, however, are marginal as I understand now.
Notion offers native integrations with a couple of third-party apps like Zoom, Slack, Jira, Google Drive, Dropbox, and even Asana.
You can, of course, take advantage of IFTTT or Zapier to connect Notion to other services not listed on Notion’s website.
Asana offers powerful automations inside the app. They’re called rules.
Rules trigger automatic actions like assigning tasks, setting due dates, adding followers, moving tasks to a certain section, or changing priority. With rules, you can automate routine tasks to make teamwork more effective.
Besides rules, Asana offers lots of native integrations with third-party tools including Microsoft Teams, Google Drive, Dropbox, Gmail, Slack, and even Notion.
My favorite one is the integration with Zoom: you can create a Zoom meeting in Asana and add the agenda and files, which will show up in the Zoom meeting. When the meeting starts, you can see the agenda in Zoom and create and assign tasks right within Zoom.
If you don’t find the integration you need, you can connect your Asana account to hundreds of third-party tools via Zapier or another automation platform.
Task management and project management
Although Notion isn’t a project management application per se, one of the most commonly cited strengths is its project management features.
You can create all kinds of different dashboards, GTD setups, and views with Notion by leveraging databases, relations, formulas, filters, sorters, linked views, and much more.
This flexible anatomy makes it easy to create reports and analytics in Notion. The hard thing is to get started, but you’ll find plenty of templates for task management or project management.
Tasks in Notion are individual rows in a database, which can contain an array of different properties from due dates to assignees to priorities.
Projects are also individual rows in another Notion database that communicates with your task database via relations. Projects can pull up data from tasks with rollup properties to measure your progress.
This database hierarchy can be more complex if you want to include goals, dashboards, or a strategic vision for your team or company. But these are all possible with Notion’s interrelated databases and advanced filters. (Side note: Asana supports powerful filtering options, too.)
You can leverage six different views (lists, tables, calendars, Kanban boards, galleries, and timelines) to display and organize your tasks and projects. You can use the grouping feature in Notion databases to create project sections like in Asana.
The hard thing in Notion is to quickly capture information and tasks: there’re no quick entries and keyboard shortcuts to set priorities, due dates, assignees, etc. You can of course create an inbox, and use Notion’s powerful web clipper or a widget on your phone to capture information, but streamlining is a bit more manual as compared to Asana. Things will become a bit more cumbersome in the Notion mobile app. (Again, this is because Notion is an all-in-one tool and not a dedicated project management app.)
Asana’s capabilities for managing projects and tasks can be hardly questioned. Over the years, the developers introduced lots of useful features to support your project management efforts and team effectiveness.
You can share projects with your team, assign tasks to team members, share files, communicate via comments in Asana, or use the Slack integration just like In Notion. Subtasks and repeated tasks can be replicated in Notion, too, but they’re far more complicated and manual.
Some of the advanced functions of Asana include portfolios, goals, reporting, rules, and forms. The reporting functions are possible in Notion as well, automating tasks, however, is unique to Asana.
Capturing information and tasks in Asana is a breeze. You can use the quick capture shortcut or use your unique Asana email address to turn emails into tasks and assign them to different projects. And this is a big one if you’re communicating with clients outside your organization or email is an integral part of your daily workflow.
When it comes to advanced functions, Notion is hard to beat. This very blog post couldn’t be long enough to list Notion’s capabilities and advanced features, so I’ll stick to the basics.
I believe that Notion is much more a knowledge management tool than a project management application. Notion is a versatile productivity tool that can be used as a task manager, company wiki, CRM, second brain, content machine, food diary, student operating system, swipe file, and so much more.
Here’re some of the advanced functions in a nutshell:
- Advanced databases: I can’t speak enough to Notion databases. They’re the horseman to Notion’s superpowers. Databases make it possible to organize information in a way that wasn’t possible before Notion.
- Relations & rollups: these properties connect databases and make it easy to extract and summarize information.
- Bidirectional links: you can easily link to individual pages when you’re typing in Notion, and the link will work on both sides. This is the foundation for building a second brain and surfacing information. Importantly, this feature works within databases, which makes them more powerful.
- Mentioning: mentioning pages, reminders, people, and dates is easy in Notion. Just type “@” and select an item from your list. Works with smart date recognition.
- Slash commands: slash commands make it easy to create and put together different blocks in your workspace and assemble content inside Notion.
- Formulas: you’ll find all kinds of formulas just as in Excel to perform calculations, even nested ones.
These advanced functions are all useful when it comes down to managing complex projects and workflows in Asana:
- Goals: create your company goals, team goals, or personal goals and measure your progress automatically by connecting your goals to sub-goals or projects.
- Portfolios: oversee all your important projects in one place.
- Rules: automate mundane tasks with Asana rules without third-party integrations.
- Forms: submit and manage requests with Asana forms.
Asana also supports basic databases, formulas, and mentioning people, but Notion is a better option for that.
|Notion Free||Notion Plus||Notion Business||Asana Basic||Asana Premium||Asana Business|
|Price $/mo (per user, billed annually)||Free||8||15||Free||10.99||24.99|
|Unlimited blocks, tasks||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|File uploads||Unlimited (5MB per file)||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited (100MB per file)||Unlimited (100MB per file)||Unlimited (100MB per file)|
|Start dates and times||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
Both Notion and Asana have a generous free plan, although Notion doesn’t put advanced functions behind a paywall. A Notion free plan’s only major limitation is the 5MB limit on individual file uploads, which is a great deal.
If you want to upgrade your experience, Notion Plus begins at $8/mo (per user), while the Asana Premium plan currently starts at $10.99/mo (per user).
With a free Asana account, you can use basic project management features, but you’ll find most of the advanced stuff in higher tiers. Asana offers a 30-day free trial to try out the powerful features until you upgrade to a paid plan.
Let’s strip down the Notion vs Asana battle to the basics: pros and cons.
Notion Pros and Cons
- Fully customizable workspace
- Generous free version
- Advanced databases
- Lack of native email integration
- Steep learning curve
- Lack of quick capture
Asana Pros and Cons
- Capturing tasks is easy
- In-app automation (rules)
- Native email integration
- Workspace customization is limited
- Not quite suitable for solo work
Notion vs Asana: the verdict
I can say that this Notion vs Asana battle was a bit biased toward project management features.
Because Asana is a dedicated project management tool. And while Notion is often considered a productivity app fostering team collaboration, I rather see it as an all-in-one platform and a note-taking tool for knowledge management.
From that perspective, there’s no way to compare Notion with Asana, simply because Asana is playing in a different team.
Regarding project management capabilities, the clear winner is Asana. Many people advocate Notion as a project management application and they’re right. There’re, however, some drawbacks to using Notion as a task manager or project manager:
- There’s no native email integration, which makes it hard to turn your emails into tasks. (Of course, there’s a way around it; you can do this with Zapier, but that’s not an ideal solution.)
- The lack of easily capturing tasks is another barrier.
- Notion doesn’t directly support fully customizable recurring tasks. (Although there’s a solution to the problem, too.)
- There’re no keyboard shortcuts to quickly capture project metadata (due date, assignee, tags, etc.) like in Asana.
- There’s no direct in-app automation that supports automating your workflows. (Asana’s rules just do that.)
You may argue with me that those features are not central to a project management application, but I think that capturing and managing your daily tasks should be a very smooth experience.
And I’m not sure Notion will put those missing features on its roadmap simply because it’s not a project management app per se.
That being said, I recommend Asana for project management. If you want to put all or some of your workflows into a single place, Notion is a great choice. I also recommend Notion if you’re a solopreneur or already have a reliable tool for managing your projects.