Putting the Action Method to Work

Yesterday, we looked at how the Action Method works, in both paper and online forms. Today, we're going to dig a little deeper and I'm going to show you how I actually use it to manage some of my work and home tasks.


Action Method

This is my default view in the web tool. It shows my tasks, sorted by date, and all three colors of Action Steps are displayed. You can elect not to sort by date, but for any Action Steps that aren't what GTD would call "Maybe/Someday" tasks, I assign dates to keep myself honest. I may move these dates if needed, but I keep the dates there as a reminder that these tasks need to be worked on.

Here you can also see that I have three overdue Action Steps. Chances are good that I'll give each of these new dates before today's over.

The Project List shows several bold entries, which are Groups containing Projects. The Benjasoft group is a holder for project ideas I'm incubating -- wacky little ideas that may or may not ever see the light of day. Personal holds all projects related to my personal life. At present, this contains:

Looks like I need to add separate entries for "Kids" and "Wife". I'll write an Action Step for that in a moment.
Beneath that is The Damascus Group's entry.

At Home

Let's say that I'm at home and I realize that, this being a Saturday, I need to mow the lawn, trim, water the plants, replace some closet light bulbs, take the kids for a bike ride, and ensure that my wife gets two hours uninterrupted time to spend sewing. Each of these items will become an Action Step scheduled for Sunday (I can complete them on Saturday, but the absolute deadline for each is Sunday). Here's what this will look like when done:



For each action, I wrote some text, chose a color, assigned a project, and assigned a date. Each took only a few seconds. Now the magic begins.

Photo Jul 17, 7 15 26 AMAction Method has synchronized these items between this online resource and my iPhone and my iPad. As I go about my weekend chores, I can take out my iPhone or iPad and check these items off using the Action Method iPhone app, and they are completed across all platforms. Android users, there's an app for you too.

At Work

In many of the environments where I work, cell phones and other PDAs are forbidden, so I have grown accustomed to working with paper by day. Here, the Action Method's paper format works well for me. During meetings, I capture Action Steps using the paper forms and at some later point, I transfer the longer-duration steps to the online tools for tracking. I often simply complete and check short-duration tasks off the paper task sheets as they are completed for simplicity's sake.

Throughout the day, every time I think of something that I need to do and which I can't do in the span of time it would take me to forget about it, then I jot it down on an action form, either online if I'm at a computer or on paper for later transcription. On paper, I don't worry about due dates and projects -- I just capture the Action Step itself. What is the thing that needs to be done.

At the start of every day, I spend five minutes reviewing my overdue and almost-due tasks to ensure they are getting enough attention and are being moved toward completion. Most days, five minutes is more than enough.

Can you see other ways to implement the Action Method in your work or personal life?