Awhile back we looked at Behance’s Action Method Process. They have a line of products to help support this process. They offered to send me a few to see what I thought and to give away to readers of Productivity501.
At first I must say that I was skeptical. When it really comes down to it, the Action Pads are places to record a list of your actions–so how is that any different than the to-do list I normally keep on the index cards I carry with me? I mean can’t you capture the same information using whatever paper you have available? Yes, you can. But I found that the design of the products helped change the way I approach creating a task list in positive ways.
The 8.5 by 10.5 action pads have 6 main areas:
- Reference and Date
- Prep Focus (lines)
- Notations (graph paper style dots)
- Action Steps (11 colored areas with checkmark box)
- Backburner (Area with colored background for tasks to remembered but not acted on immediately)
- Back side (graph paper style dots)
The paper is a high quality card thin card stock with pre-drilled holes
for a three ring binder and a perforated line if you want to remove the
Here are some of the ways that I think the Action Pad helps in creating action/task lists.
- Limited space for action steps — If you just use a piece
of paper for tasks, it is easy to get a bunch of unfocused tasks
together. By limiting the space to 11 tasks, it helps keep you at the
right level of detail and helps you stay focused on the current project
instead of just doing a brain dump of every task you can think of.
- Backburner Area — This is a very important technique in planning. We talked about it a bit in the sacred todo list.
The backburner area lets you capture some of the random thoughts
without turning them into a task. This helps you stay more focused
without losing information.
- Colored Action Steps — The action steps are brightly
colored boxes. This may seem insignificant, but I think there is a
real mental advantage in the way it uses color. It helps elevate the
importance of what you write down, makes it appear more organized, and
encourages you to put a little more thought into what you write in each
of the 11 boxes.
- Brainstorming Areas — The back of the sheet and the
notation areas are covered with grey dots. Think of graph paper with
no lines but just a dot where all the lines would normally intersect.
This is a really nice feature because it lets you draw and write free
form, while keeping everything aligned. It seems like a little thing,
but the neatness factor makes a bid difference in how you and others
view your plan once it is complete.
- Standard Layout — Having all of your planning done in the
same format makes it easy to locate information later on. If you need
to lookup something that was a backburner item, you know exactly where
to look. If you are working with a team, this can even be a bigger
There is nothing here that you can’t do on your own with your own sheet
of paper, but the Action Pad is worth checking out. (We will be giving
some away in tomorrows post, so check back if you are interested in
getting a free one.)If nothing else, it will give you some ideas about how to organize your own todo lists that can help make you more effective.
One of the products that I really like is there 3×5 Action Cards. I
carry a small index card "wallet" with me and that is where I usually
keep my task lists, business cards, etc. The Action Cards are much
better than the landscape style 3×5 cards that I’ve been using. (They
also have moleskine size, spiral booklets and even Action stickers.)
I don’t know if using the Action line of products is something I will
do over the long term. However, using it for a few weeks has really
made me change my approach to task lists in ways that I think will make
me more productive regardless of what I use in the future. If you are
interested in trying it out the Action Pads, checkout Behance’s products or checkout tomorrows post, where we are going to give away some of their samples.