Whether you’re new to the field of productivity, want to change platforms, or you’re simply curious to know more about productivity apps, you’re in the right place. I’m more than happy to announce the battle of the giant and the small: Asana and Nozbe.
It’s time to grab your favourite drink and some chips. Ready? Let’s go and begin with a brief history.
Asana, headquartered in San Francisco (US), was founded in 2008, serving now millions of users. Nozbe, advocating a no office lifestyle, was launched in 2007, having more than 500,000 users. Both Asana and Nozbe are web-based task managers―they’re available on Mac, PC, iOS, and Android. Nozbe also provides desktop apps for both the Mac and the PC.
Asana was founded by Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein, both have made a fundamental contribution to Facebook. Nozbe was founded by Michael Sliwinski, a Polish entrepreneur, who was inspired by David Allen’s book Getting Things Done.
I think that this brief history closely reflects the values of these companies and, at the same time, determines their customer base and future perspectives.
Now, that we’ve had a short historical overview, we can dig deeper to see what do Asana and Nozbe offer.
Anatomy of Asana and Nozbe
It’s the anatomy of Asana and Nozbe that makes a big difference. Asana provides separate workplaces, and within a workplace, you can create projects, sections, tasks, subtasks, all making up a hierarchy. In Nozbe, you have a single “workplace” with projects and tasks. But Nozbe comes with its hidden dimension―labels. Labels can be used as workplaces in Asana: they provide another level of a hierarchy.
Individual tasks can be labelled with tags in Asana and with categories in Nozbe. Tags and categories make it easy to batch similar tasks and leverage the GTD contexts. You can create tags and categories for anything you want: For important people, urgency, places―you name it. What’s a real benefit in Nozbe that categories come with different colours and icons, while Asana supports colours only.
You’ll spend 90 percent of your time in your priority list both in Asana (My Tasks view) and Nozbe (Priority view). The priority list is the workplace with your to-dos for a given day. If you schedule a task for a specific date, it will appear on your priority list when it hits the deadline. You can add a task to your priority list anytime either by marking it (Asana) or staring it (Nozbe).
The inbox is the place where all your emailed tasks land. Yes, you can email tasks right to Asana and Nozbe. The email body becomes the task description, the subject field becomes the task name, and the email attachment comes as task attachment. You can then weed out your random tasks and put them in the right project.
There is a big difference how Asana and Nozbe handle emailed tasks. If you don’t use your task manager for teamwork (more on that in the next section), most of your tasks will certainly arrive as emails.
In Nozbe, you get a unique email address and all emails forwarded to this address will land in Nozbe inbox. But, and here is the trick, you can use hashtags in the subject field to get your task pulled into the right project (#<Poject name>), with the appropriate due date (#<due date>), and tag (#<tag name>).
In Asana, you get multiple email addresses: One address per project. This is a less comfortable option. But you can integrate Asana with Gmail and MS Outlook to let some magic happen.
The real power of Asana and Nozbe lies in their team functions…
Teamwork in Asana and Nozbe
Maybe you want to use your task manager for personal tasks only. There is nothing wrong with that. When it comes to teamwork, however, Asana and Nozbe shine like the morning star.
There is really no limit to your possibilities with teamwork; a simple overview of team functions would exceed the scope of this blog post.
You can delegate and receive tasks, mention teammates in the comments section of any task, add people to projects, follow shared projects. Communication via tasks is way more effective than email.
You can even connect Asana with Slack to take your teamwork to the next level.
Let’s leave teamwork and get right into the advanced functions of Asana and Nozbe.
There’re tons of advanced functions from templates to task cloning to task dependencies.
You can leverage the power of Asana and Nozbe by using templates. A number of free (and paid―Asana only) templates are available on the web. Templates help you to gain new ideas but the real power lies in your very own templates.
You can create your own project templates both in Asana and Nozbe for recurring projects. Next time you’re about to launch a project, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel: You’re only a few clicks away to jumpstart your project.
Cloning projects, converting tasks into projects, exporting essential project information all are useful functions. It’s important to note that Nozbe doesn’t support assigning tasks to multiple projects―it’s in line with Nozbe’s “get-things-done” policy. Similarly, that’s why Nozbe doesn’t support subtasks within tasks.
Asana’s Kanban feature (Asana Boards) is a very handy function especially for content management and product delivery. You can drag and drop cards through a series of stages. Your cards will display images, assignees, tags, and due dates. This visual overview is a great benefit of Asana over its competitors. (Note: Asana also supports the list view.)
Portfolios and timelines are features also unique to Asana. With timelines, you get a Gantt chart-like view, showing your time-bound tasks with their dependencies. Portfolios, as the Asana guide puts it, “provide a holistic view of all your important projects in one place.” You can check, among others, the status, progress, and priority of your key projects.
Task dependencies make work easy. Recently, Nozbe introduced this feature as well: By copying the task reference link to the dependent task, you’ll see the dependency, and once the original task gets done, it will appear as a cleared dependency.
Both Asana and Nozbe support that you connect your favourite apps.
Asana claims that it integrates with over a hundred (!) of apps, although some of them come via Zapier. Integrations include but aren’t limited to Gmail, MS Outlook, Slack, Dropbox, Zapier, Github, MailChimp, Evernote. Nozbe also supports the most important integrations: Evernote, Google Calendar, and the most common cloud storage providers.
Both Asana and Nozbe come with built-in calendars, although Asana’s calendar is much more useful. You get a separate, full-colour calendar for each of your projects as well as a super-calendar for your priorities.
Integrations, however, make it easy to leverage your calendars outside your task manager. Both Asana and Nozbe connect with Google Calendar, so you won’t miss your most important to-dos and deadlines anymore.
Let’s see one of the biggest time savers―both Asana and Nozbe support quick adds via keyboard shortcuts. This time, Nozbe is way ahead of Asana―the desktop app runs in the background, so any time you’re busy working on a project outside Nozbe, you can easily add any task to your favourite task manager via a shortcut. What’s more, the same #syntax that you’ve learned when emailing tasks applies to the quick add window. Anyway, keyboard shortcuts will be your best friend on both platforms.
Although this review of Asana and Nozbe is far from being exhaustive, hopefully, you now have an overview of what these apps could deliver in the long run.
When it comes to pricing, you get Asana basic for free (hopefully forever); Nozbe provides a 30-day free trial only (otherwise you can use Nozbe for free with up to five projects). Asana’s basic plan is a very decent option: You can use it for a very long time before you switch to other plans. The Premium plan at Asana costs USD 9.99 per month (1 user), while a Nozbe Solo plan costs EUR 7.0 per month (1-2 users). Both plans are more than enough for individuals, but there are business options as well.
Based on my very own experience, I can say that Asana and Nozbe are very reliable platforms with decent speed performance and customer support. It follows from their histories and customer base that Nozbe provides fantastic, personalized customer support for every user, while Asana has to serve way more customers.
Building engagement is a mission that both Asana and Nozbe practice. Both run their own blogs. What I particularly like about Nozbe’s blog, though, is that it’s nicely integrated into the app: Whenever a new post gets published, you’ll receive a notification via Nozbe News. Michael Sliwinski, CEO and founder of Nozbe, also runs a podcast. By the way, you’ll get notified of the new episodes via Nozbe News.
Certainly, you’re eager to know who wins the battle…
Most people would say that choose Asana if you’re serious about project management, or go with Nozbe for getting things done. It all depends on what projects you work on, whom you work with, and what your personal preferences are.
If you happened to read my post on productivity, you probably know that I switched a couple of times back and forth between Asana and Nozbe.
Csaba’s choice is Nozbe. Why? Because I do appreciate people behind the app, because I’m heavily GTD-fed, because my tasks come mostly as emails, and because I live in Central Europe.
I can say from the bottom of my heart that both Asana and Nozbe are great choices! Take your time, experiment, and choose your weapon.
If you work in team, check out Nozbe Teams, which is a completely new product aiming to help small businesses and teams focus on performing efficiently.
Your one takeaway: Sign up for Asana and Nozbe, get a free trial, and see which one works for you, then stick to it.