Productivity is at the core of any entrepreneur's survival. Managing day-to-day tasks while keeping an eye on the big picture and of course not letting any important tasks slip are key considerations for any successful implementation of a productivity framework or system. We're looking at popular productivity systems and why entrepreneurs favor them in this series. In this installment, we explore the Action Method.
The Action Method was created by Scott Belsky as an outgrowth of his company geared toward creative professionals, Behance, and his book, Making Ideas Happen. Belsky has interviewed numerous of the creative profession's most productive people, and through that process, discovered a set of "best practices" that became the heart of the Action Method, a productivity framework that users access through the web and a mobile app.
How it Works:
Within a project, it's important to separate action steps and references:
Action steps are the clear set of tasks you need to complete to finish a project. They should start with a verb like "write," "call," or "email."
References are things that do not require action, but are nonetheless important to giving a project context. References can also include "backburner" items that you'd like to get to but don't have the bandwidth for now.
The Action Method app allows you to track projects, action steps and references. You can also put certain action steps into a "focus area," but the app limits 5 items in the focus area. Any more than that and you are likely to be less effective in completing tasks.
The Action Method system encompasses specially made paper notebooks, a desktop and mobile version which are available from the website for a monthly fee.
Why people swear by it:
The Action Method helps you stay on top of both personal and professional goals - it doesn't matter whether you're planning a vacation or trying to launch a startup. Both are "projects" that have "action steps" you must complete. As such, the Action Method will help you track them.
It's a little more geared toward creative people than other frameworks. The interface is very "design-y" and because the framework is fairly open-ended (and yet still focused on action) it's a natural fit for creative professionals.
How to get started:
Sign up for a free trial of Action Method app. Group your to-do list into projects and break it down further into "action steps."
Learn to get in the habit of reviewing and processing action steps on a daily basis.
"An idea can only become a reality once it is broken down into organized, actionable elements."
― Scott Belsky, Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality
Other productivity frameworks to consider:
The Pomodoro Technique is favored by many because it's free, simple and easy to implement.
Remember the Milk and Teux Deux are popular apps that help digital-savvy entrepreneurs stay on top of their to-do lists on multiple devices.
Getting Things Done has long been a favorite among entrepreneurs for its dual focus on small task and big-picture, aspirational goals.
Kanban was pioneered by Toyota many years ago, and uses a simple white board with Post-Its to track complex processes to completion.
99U.com: A web magazine that provides daily insights on how to make ideas happen through in-depth interviews, articles, videos, and bite-size blog posts.
Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky: In Making Ideas Happen, Behance CEO Scott Belsky chronicles the process behind the legendary teams at Disney, IDEO, and Google -- as well as individuals like John Maeda, Seth Godin, and Chris Anderson -- to share tried-and-true methods for overcoming the obstacles between vision and reality.