Some Open Source Secrets from a Student Affairs Pro… Asana, GmailMeter, and Infogram

There are literally hundreds of thousands of apps, free and paid web applications, plugins, and other software suites designed to help us be more productive and “do more with less” in our work as we aim to help students succeed. Here are a few free tech tips that have helped me be better organized and more effective in the office.

The first is Asana (pronounced uh-SAHN-uh). In a nutshell, Asana is a task management system that allows you to organize your work. It’s basically a giant “to do” list and is great if your work involves a lot of collaboration or complex projects with moving parts and multiple people working on those different parts (sound familiar?). It works incredibly well to track student workers and provides a great way to assess what work the student has done. My office uses it to track applicants for positions as well as a document flow tool to manage documents coming in and going out of the office. We have also started using Asana to track committee work, particularly for large committees that have multiple subs. Try it out at

Do you ever wonder what your email habits are? I do! GmailMeter is a simple script that allows you to get analytical data on your own Gmail account (it also works if your university’s email is hosted by Google). GmailMeter gives you stats on your email volume, your daily traffic, patterns on how long it takes you to respond, and more. It was especially useful for me in determining when I should set aside time in my day to respond to emails and if I should be picking up the phone more (yes, I should). This script can be set to send you periodic reports. Here is the link on how to install

The last free application to help with your work is Infogram ( In a world where we are constantly assessing our students, Infogram is a site designed to help you make your data look great. Many of us don’t often share our data to tell “the story” of the way we are impacting students. Infogram can help with this. Here is how we recently used it to organize data from last summer’s Orientations:

What apps, scripts, web applications, or plugins do you use to be more effective and productive in your work?

Author: J.R. Tarabocchia, Outreach & Advancement Coordinator, Portland State University

J.R. Tarabocchia serves as the Outreach & Advancement Coordinator for the division of Enrollment Management & Student Affairs at Portland State University. His focus has been to enhance the learning opportunities and development of students, especially those who may not have had every advantage. He earned his Juris Doctor and Masters of Intellectual Property from the University of New Hampshire and his Bachelors from Rhodes College.

  1. #1 by mcbrinton on April 8, 2013 - 10:20 am

    Asana is a tool I use every day that has been INCREDIBLY helpful and EXTREMELY useful. The free version gives you all of the tools you need to be successful. To learn more about the company and the product, please check out an “Open Source Oasis” column I wrote for the NASPA Region IV-W Winter 2013 Newsletter: Great post J.R.!

  2. #2 by Ryan Kulp on April 8, 2013 - 4:20 pm


    I’m on the Gmail Meter team, which you linked above. Just wanted to reach out that the link you posted is broken. The best way to install our tool now is to simply visit and follow the prompts.

    Thanks for the mention!

    • #3 by polingea2 on April 9, 2013 - 10:39 am

      Hello Ryan!

      Thank you for giving us the correct link, I’ve updated it in the post.

      Have a great day!


  3. #4 by J.R. Tarabocchia on April 9, 2013 - 1:02 pm

    Thanks Matt! Asana really changed the way I work. I first used it when I was in charge of commencement and now I use it for, well, everything!

    Ryan – thanks for the update on Gmail Meter. Great product!


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