Action Method review

I read few months ago ‘Making Ideas Happen’. This book is authored by people behind website Behance. Ideas in the book supposedly are represented by tool ActionMethod. Oh, and let me add, I am not related to Behance people and they didn’t offer me anything to write this.

First, book is really good, anyone interested in productivity should read it. I enjoyed reading it, it did open my eyes a little on several topics. For example, I always believed that messy desks are sign of people working… well maybe, but organized desks are sign of people accomplishing things.
They also tout that tools you use should be beautiful tools. And they do provide some.

So, naturally after going half-way through the book, I had to try ActionMethod (I did try it before once and didn’t use it). This time I tried it and decided to give it a chance. I bookmarked website in all my machines (desktop and laptop), I bought app for ipad as well as my android phone. This last one is really nice touch as it helps add actions when I am away from other computing devices.

Before saying anything about ActionMethod, I did try a number of productivity tools and systems. I’ve been fan of Getting Things Done for a long time. I am still surprised when people have email in their inbox etc. However even with all this, lately, with three kids, I’ve been having trouble getting done anything. And most of the time, I didn’t even know what I should do.

One of the first impressions I had about ActionMethod, is that I finally could organize things in a way that makes sense and feels natural. What I did before is either tried to make multiple lists, or single large one that would have everything mixed up. This is just very poor way to keep track of things. Also, some tags, just not disciplined enought to use them properly I guess.

ActionMethod has a way to organize projects in groups, so I have for example, my big client group with all projects going on there, I finally don’t have to dig through the mail when someone calls me up about something we talked month ago, since it is a project that is on-going, I would look it up in action method, see what was left to do. So that way of organizing your tasks brings a lot of clarity in what needs to be done and where are those areas where tasks are present.

I have lists for learning and list for articles I would like to read. So having those is really beneficial and helps me feel in control.

What I think is missing from action method is that tasks that are in progress are not well accounted for. Book suggest we mark it done when we shoot someone email and recreate task. This is total bullshit honestly. Another thing that is not good is that I can’t plan my day by selecting which tasks I would like to do and work off that. There is focus group but it is limited to 5, which is great kanban like principle, however in practice I have things I am waiting on and would like to have more available for me to work on. So, I would like to have ability to mark things as in progress.

Another thing that annoys me is that ActionMethod on ipad is actually very ugly app, so it breaks principle that tools we use are beautiful. Where website provides organized view of work, Ipad app feels very cramped and I am never sure where my tasks are. I don’t have issues with phone app mostly as I use it for adding tasks.

I keep using actionmethod for now, as it does bring clarity and organization to my daily work, however, there are some frustrations with it that I feel the need to address.

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