What it is: You know what I love about a new year? The blank slate. The empty calendar begging to be written on. The chance to take a step back and evaluate how you are working. I am an organizer at heart. I love having everything in its place. I love label makers, file folders, planners, calendars, and software that makes my life easier. For Christmas my little brother (always have to have the little in there to remind him of his place in life 🙂 ) gifted me with the book “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky. I am about a third of the way through it and already loving it. What my brother knows about me (I think it runs in our gene pool) is that I am a creative person. I am never at a loss for ideas. They flow constantly. The problem: I think every single idea is genius. I want every single idea to come to fruition because surely no one has every come up with something so brilliant before. Even for an organizational nut like me, this is an impossible task. And if I’m totally honest, my organizational skills leave much to be desired when it comes to putting my ideas in their place. Ideas are wonderful things, they make the world go round…but they are only useful as far as they are enacted. When the flow of ideas is constant, many truly brilliant ideas get pushed aside while another round of ideas rolls in. This post isn’t really about the book. While it is a good book, it isn’t really inspirational. It is life changing in what you do with the principles it reveals. Blesky details his Action Method in the book. I immediately loved this method because it works the way I think. It puts everything in its place and gives you a place to organize actionable items (things you can actually work towards completion right now), reference items (all those bits of notes and websites, and pdfs, and pictures I have EVERYWHERE…seriously my husband says I have a problem), and backburners- those ideas that aren’t really actionable yet but could be some day. This keeps those brilliant ideas at the forefront and getting taken care of while the flow of ideas has a place (backburner) so that nothing is lost. Sweet! My next question was: where can I “do” the action method so that I can and will keep up with it? Problem solved, introducing the Action Method online. You can put all of those principles to use in one beautiful interface. Even better…you can access it on your mobile device too. We all know that is a must in this day and age! The online Action Method has a free version which lets you do just about everything…for some extra shiny bits you can sign up for the pro plan. The mobile version is a free download. (There is even a paper version for those of you who like to go old school…normally I am in this organizational camp but like I said, the website is right up my alley.) What is better than starting off the new year organized and with money in the bank?
Here is the Action Method as described on the website:
- ACTION STEPS are tasks that need to be completed. Each Action Step should start with a verb: “Call Y,” “Follow up with X,” “Buy a gift for Z.”
- REFERENCES are notes, links, files, sketches – any information related to a project that gives context to your Action Steps.
- BACKBURNERS are the brilliant ideas that you want to come back to later, but are not yet actionable.
- DISCUSSIONS enable you to manage ongoing conversations across all of your projects with anyone that works with you. All relevant communications (shared documents, solutions to problems, feedback, decisions) are in one place.
- EVENTS are the key occasions/meetings/milestones/etc toward which you (and your team) are working. Events can be used to coordinate deadlines for Action Steps, aiding project management.
Pretty cool right?! I really like how the Action Method lets you track discussions and delegate tasks easily. Very handy! Need more convincing? Companies like Apple use the Action Method…you know something is working for them! I don’t know about you, but the thought of having everything organized in one place is giving me some major warm fuzzies right now!
How to integrate the Action Method into your curriculum: The Action Method website and app can be used to organize your school life. I constantly have ideas for new lesson plans, projects, websites, etc. that I want to use with students. These can be easily organized with the Action Method. Create a new Project for each unit or educational focus. Action items can be the individual lessons and resources that you are going to complete for that unit. Add any resources you need in the references section. Saw a cool idea on Twitter that you want to use in your classroom but aren’t sure how it will work just yet? Add it to your backburner so you can go back and review it later. The Action Method could very well be the only planner you need! Create discussions with teammates and colleagues (or Twitter colleagues) directly in the program. Delegate tasks to others on your team or even parent volunteers.
The Action Method could be used to help middle school or high school students better organize their lives and learning. It would be especially useful for students who help chart their own learning plans. The site does require an email address (with confirmation) to sign up.
Tips: You can learn more about the Action Method in the book Making Ideas Happen.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using the Action Method in Your classroom.