Recently I started using The Action Method by Behance. It’s based on the book Making Ideas Happen* which I picked up on the suggestion of Jeff Goins. Did you catch his guest post on Monday on Why You Need Creatives in the Workplace?
Let’s talk a little bit more about what I’ve learned from Jeff.
It’s OK to be a Creative
Even though I’ve been a poetry writer for as long as I can remember, I’ve done numerous writers’ camps and have a crafty side, I never though of myself as a “creative” or an artist. It wasn’t until after I started my company that it ever occurred to me. One of my clients who had taken a note of my knack for creating business names and catchy headlines made a comment about adding me to her list of creatives. But what really tipped me off was when I read an article about issues Creatives have in their jobs.
Quote from Jeff’s guest post: “Creative professionals don’t work like the rest of us. They struggle with deadlines and typical 9-5 schedules. They procrastinate and sometimes make excuses. They can be unmotivated and even occasionally moody.”
The deal is I bounce from project to project. I have tons of “great” ideas. I get started, I work a little here and there. Then I feel like I have a lot of pans in the fire and never get anything finished. My work schedule is very atypical. I work in spurts and rarely am in the office at the same times each day. (I’m writing this blog post at 1 AM.)
When I worked in HR, I had systems. There were things that had to be done on particular days. I struggled every week to get the menial tasks done. I can tell you there was rarely a day I was in the office at 8 am. I also worked from home at 3 am more than once. Fortunately the company was screwed up and my boss was fired 3 weeks after I was hired. I approved my own payroll and expenses for the rest of the time I worked there because no one knew who my new boss was. (Yes I worked there for over 2 years.) I’ve made a life of being outside the norm.
Struggling with Schedules
In the post How I Get Things Done, Jeff talks about using one project management system and not spreading yourself across too many mediums. It’s very easy to get sucked into the pretty new tool mentality and feel like you have to use every one of them. This is a horrible idea. But you have to find the method that works for you.
Against that really good advice, I use several project and task management systems. I use Basecamp* for my clients and contractors. It has a fantastic combination of messages, file storage, notifications and security. I use Google Calendar for my class work and my daughter’s schedule. All of my Basecamp projects show up on my Google Calendar using their API.
After reading Jeff’s post and reading Making Ideas Happen*, I started using the Action Method for my personal and business projects. The Action Method works on the idea that all items are categorized as one of three things: Action Steps, Reference items or Backburner items.
I use The Action Method paper planner during meetings and classes to capture all my notes and ideas and I’m very pleased with it. The Action Steps are colored blocks on the upper right side of the page like a bright to-do list. (I have the orange version- War Eagle.) The Reference area is a gridded page for drawings, tables or notes. The backburner section is below the colored section for items that can wait but you don’t want to lose. The Action Method Paper version has room for 11 action items.
After I return to the office, everything goes into the online version of the Action Method. I can make edits, change dates and check things off as they are finished. My favorite feature is the ability to categorize my to-do list by project. Like the paper version, there are focus sections and backburner sections. I love doing a brain dump into the backburner section and then focusing on finishing my projects before starting a new one.
The only issue I had with The Action Method was the apparently lack of mobile apps. I searched high and low before finding a forum thread 6 pages long to find out how to get the Android app for my tablet. I almost decided against using The Action Method because it took so long to find this information and I almost gave up. They also have an iPhone app but I’m not an Apple person.
So the key is it works.
I’m not saying these methods will work for everyone and if I could integrate The Action Method into my Basecamp area I would. Basecamp does have a to-do list and milestone feature but it definitely pales in comparison to the organization method behind The Action Method. There are a number of “to-do” list programs out on the internet and available for download. Fortunately most of them offer trials so you can check out their features.
If paper works for you and you know that stick with it. For quite a long time I used the “Daily Docket” from Simple Mom’s blog. I loved that it included room for dinner planning and tracking my water intake.
What programs and methods work well for you?
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