Recently, Padmapper lost its Craigslist dataset. Even more recently, it got them back — but I decided to start looking for a new apartment, found one, and moved in before realizing that. At first it was daunting; it was hard to imagine going back to plain old vanilla Craiglist after using something like Padmapper. I decided to use Asana to help organize the search between my girlfriend and I. Having used Asana at work for recruiting, I had grown accustomed to it’s interface and decided to give it a try for the apartment search.
Asana lets you set up workspaces, projects, and tasks as organizational units. A workspace of “Apartments” is good enough for this (“Burning Man” is another workspace I have). I made a different project for each neighborhood I was looking at (Nob Hill, Lower Haight, and Downtown). In each project, I made each task (each different line) the address of the apartment by intersection. Once you’ve entered a task, you can quickly move to edit by hitting “tab.” From the detail view, I entered the original Craigslist URL followed by a paste of pertinent details from the posting. Asana’s got some “tab” shortcuts to help you here — interestingly, Asana uses the “tab” key as a modifier like control, alt, shift, or command. It’s easy to remember and awkward to reach, but it’s definitely useful. You can hit tab-t to jump to creating a new tag (I made one for the price, so that it shows up in the project overview) and after you’re done, hit tab-a to assign to someone (girlfriend, roommate) to review. The task history can keep track of the active discussion about the apartment: “this has a great roof”, “called to schedule viewing”, “viewing scheduled Wed 7:00pm”.
The alternative (and default) for this type of collaboration for me has generally been a shared Google Doc. I think Asana improves upon this solution in several ways:
- Keyboard shortcuts. As a Vim user, I’m a sucker for these — but they really make navigating so much faster. If you find yourself repeating certain “movements”, I’d recommend pulling up the keyboard shortcut modal and see if there’s one for that action.Assignees. Assigning an owner sends an email and notifies the assignee that action is required
- Great mobile site. I wasn’t expecting this, especially on an Android. But as you’re out and about, it’s really important to have access to apartment information. In addition to useful emails for searching, Asana’s mobile site is quite decent.
After closing on an apartment, I created another project in the workspace called “Moving” and searched on Yelp for moving companies with standing deals ($50 for $100 of service, $25 for $50, etc) and used the same approach to divide the task of getting quotes and scheduling the move.
I’m much happier with Asana than I used to be. For one, I’m beginning to appreciate that Asana is a company that’s using its own product to make the product better — which is a sweet place to be. That makes me confident that Asana will become an increasingly useful tool in organizing my life. It definitely took the edge of finding a new apartment, a task many are faced with and few enjoy the details of.