You’ve got one thousand ideas floating around in your head, but no idea where to start? Creatives know this problem very well. The action method solves exactly this challenge and helps you put your ideas into practice. For each idea, concrete action steps are put in place. The method is very simple, but has quite the impact. In this article, we will show you how to use this productivity method in awork.
Focus on your action steps
Every project is broken down into so-called action steps, references or backburners: these are the three main pillars of the action method. It makes no difference whether you’re just back from a meeting, having a brainstorming session, or are planning your professional future and next career steps.
In this case, action steps are concrete to-dos that must be completed in order to achieve a goal. The important thing is to write out these to-dos as precisely as possible. Every phrase should start with a verb:
- Call programmer back to…
- Install the new software…
- Research potential topics for…
- Create a mock-up for…
- Give feedback on…
Essentially, after every meeting, email, phone call, etc., you can write out an action step.
In our awork task bundle, we recommend having an inbox list, in which you can gather all of your to-dos first. By the end of every day or week, you should take the time to write out the tasks in action steps or add them to the action steps list.
Different kinds of action steps
There are action steps that only you can edit. But for larger projects especially, you will have no choice but to delegate tasks. Besides the usual action steps, there are another three types for team leaders:
- Delegated action steps: these are tasks that you have handed over to other people. In awork, you can simply assign the appropriate person. The task does however stay in your action steps list and thus in your field of view.
- Ensure action steps: some action steps are put in place to ensure that they are finished on time. For example: “Ensure that all graphics are created on time.”
- Awaiting action steps: have you written an email, for which you are awaiting a reply so that you can continue or perhaps even wrap up a task? In this case, you need an awaiting action step. One of these could, for example, look like this: “Wait for confirmation email from client.”
References and backburners
Besides the action steps, there are two other important components to the productivity method: the “references” and “backburners”.
References include all project-related documents, information material, research, links, notes, etc. You will need references from time to time when you work on a specific project. In awork, it’s best to place references in a separate list.
Backburners are things that do not need to be completed right now, but may become relevant at some point. These could be to-dos that you will have to complete in the future or some of your ideas that you may or may not be able to implement at all. It is likewise recommended to use a separate list in awork for backburner tasks.
In a nutshell: this is how the action method functions in awork
In order for you to be able to make use of the action method in awork directly, we have created a convenient task bundle. The bundle works according to the following principle:
- Use a list for gathering all new tasks. We’ve called this list inbox.
- At the end of every day (or week), you should go through your inbox list and assign the task to either the action steps, references or backburner list. Remember: when adding a task to the action steps list, its name should start with a verb, e.g., “create a mock-up for…”
- The references and backburner lists should be checked, sorted and updated regularly.
- If possible, you should give the tasks in the action steps list a deadline.
- Some action steps can be delegated to your team. If applicable, think of drafting an ensure action step.
Now you can work through your action steps. In principle, you could use this method for every creative project. If possible, the action steps list should always appear at the top of the project. This allows you to concentrate on the actions, which are currently the main focus.
What you need to pay attention to when implementing
For the method to work as well as it possibly can, you should give yourself a moment after every meeting to formulate action steps. If you are using the method as a team, you could take it one step further by giving everyone some time (about five to ten minutes) to write down action steps after every meeting. You can also go through them one by one and let everyone briefly name the action steps that he or she took from the meeting. The stronger the action method is embedded in your team mentality, the more often it will be used and bring the desired effect.