The Action Method – 3 Steps To Boost Your Production Now

Loyd Mears

This method begins with ideas. You begin with an idea that you want to explore or pursue. Then, you turn your idea into a project.

The philosophy of The Action Method is that you should classify everything as a project. Once you’ve organized everything as a project, you can break it into 

action method categories
Folders in Google Keep

Action Steps

Action Steps are the specific, concrete tasks that inch you forward: redraft and send the memo, post the blog entry, pay the electricity bill, etc.”

Scott Belsky. Making Ideas Happen (Kindle Locations 489-490). Penguin USA, Inc. Kindle Edition. 


“References are any project-related handouts, sketches, notes, meeting minutes, manuals, websites, or ongoing discussions that you may want to refer back to. It is important to note that References are not actionable—they are simply there for reference when focusing on any particular project.”

Scott Belsky. Making Ideas Happen (Kindle Locations 490-492). Penguin USA, Inc. Kindle Edition. 

Backburner Items

“Things that are not actionable now but may be someday. Perhaps it is an idea for a client for which there is no budget yet. Or maybe it is something you intend to do in a particular project at an unforeseen time in the future.”

Scott Belsky. Making Ideas Happen (Kindle Locations 492-493). Penguin USA, Inc. Kindle Edition. 

3 Steps To Boost Your Production Now

1. Reduce Every Project Into Action Steps, References, And Backburner.

You can reduce every project you work on to these three parts. You’ve got to break your project down into these categories. If you don’t, you’ll feel stressed and distracted. You can’t concentrate effectively if your mind is too crammed full of thoughts.

Too many ideas don’t work because the projects aren’t organized around actions. One reason for this is that much of what we do, like meetings or brainstorming sessions, are routines. We do these things out of habit, but they don’t always get us what we want.

2. Focus On Doing Your Action Steps

action steps

Write action steps and focus on doing them whenever you get an idea and you’ll ignite your productivity. It’s important to write down these steps because they move you to get things done.

Even small steps will make it much easier to move forward because you won’t be as likely to get stuck and not know what to do next.

3. Get Started And Follow The Simple Process

  • First, you need a way to keep notes of your ideas, action steps, references, and backburner items. 
  • Then you need to organize your ideas into projects and action steps, references, and backburner.
  • Finally, you spend most of your time doing the action steps while continuing to organize everything in the three categories.

Make An Action Notebook From Scratch FREE

The Action Method Is From The Popular Business Book “Making Ideas Happen,” Written By Scott Belsky, The CEO Of Behance.

Making Ideas Happen

This Is What One Looks Like On The Action Method Website. You Can Get Different Sizes And Colors. 

There Is A More Upscale Version On Amazon With A Nicer Cover.

the action method

The Action Method Website Has Some Basic Instruction For How To Use The Action Method Notebook.

Action Website Method Instructions

Prepare, Brainstorm, Action Steps, And Backburner.

Let’s See How To Make An Action Notebook Easily.

You Need A Blank Notebook That Has Side By Side Pages Like A Book. A Simple Spiral Notebook Will Do. 

I Prefer 8 1/2 X11, So There Is Plenty Of Space On The Pages.

You Start With Blank Pages, And The Left-Hand Page Is For Notes.

Spiral Notebook 8.5 x 11"
Side by side pages

You May Take Notes During A Presentation, Reading A Book Or Article, Attending A Lecture, Or Brainstorming.

On The Right Hand Side, Draw A Horizontal Line On The Top Ruled Line With A Straight Edge.

Action Method DIY Notebook Pages
  • Next, Draw A Vertical Line About ⅓ From The Right Edge.
  • Then Write Labels On The Top Of The Page For the Project/Idea, Date, And Action Steps
  • Next, Draw A Horizontal Line In The Left Column About ⅓ Down From The Top And Label It Prep/Focus.
  • Then, Label The Section Below That Notes/Thoughts.
  • Next, Draw A Horizontal Line In The Right Hand Column 3 Or 4 Spaces From The Bottom And Label The Section Backburner.

Then Repeat This Process For New Pages.

  • I Use The Prep/Focus Section For More Details About The Idea Or Project And What The Final Result Will Look Like.
  • Then, I Use The Notes/Thoughts Section To Work Through What Needs To Be Done, How, And When It Needs To Be Done.
  • In The Action Step Column, I Enter My First Step, Draw A Line Under It, Enter My Next Step, Draw A Line Under It, And So On.
  • The Backburner Section Is For Actions Or Ideas You Want To Implement In The Future.

Here’s An Example Of A Notebook I Used To Record Notes And Projects From A YouTube Training Course.

case study action method notes

Use Google Keep To Implement The Action Method

The Action Method Is From The Popular Business Book “Making Ideas Happen,” Written By Scott Belsky, The Ceo Of Behance.

Let’s see how to manage the action method using Google Keep.

  • Go to If you don’t already have a Gmail account, create one.
  • Click on edit labels and enter your project name and click on Done.
  • Next, click on the project label you just created.
  • Click on take a note and type in “back burner.” 
  • Click on background options, and choose a color. It’s best to choose the same color for every back burner folder that you make for every project. 
  • Click Done, click on take a note again and type “references.” 
  • Then choose a different color for your references folder and use that color for all the references folders you make in the future.
  • You should keep consistent colors for each folder type because it’s easier to manage your time. 
  • Click done, click on take a note, and type “action steps.” Then select the color you like for your action steps folder. 
  • Then click on the pin button to pin your action steps on the top and click done.
  • To enter information on any note, click on the note. Then type the information, hit return to go to the next line, and type in the next step. 
  • Clicking on these three dots shows you six options for this note.
  • Choose the option to show checkboxes. 
  • When you finish an item, check the box, and it moves down to the completed items area. 
  • If you uncheck the item, it moves back up to the top. 

Let’s look at all the features you have for each note. 

You can set a reminder, click here to delegate to other people, change the colors, add an image, archive, change labels, add a drawing, make a copy, hide checkboxes, and copy to Google Docs. 

That’s it for managing your projects in the Action Method with Google Keep.

Use Microsoft To-Do To Implement The Action Method

Let’s see how to manage the action method using Microsoft To-Do. 

I’m using the Windows desktop version for this video, but you can also download a version for MAC and Android.

  • Go to Set up a Microsoft Account or use one you already have. Download the app or use the online version.
  • Click on “new list,” enter your project name, and press return.
  • Next, click on “add a task” and type in “back burner.” 
  • Repeat the process by adding references and action steps. You can move them in any order by clicking on the item and moving it up or down.
  • Click on the action steps task to add steps. Add a step, press return, and add more steps. On the Action Steps panel, you can see that you have completed 0 of 3 steps. When you click on the circle, it shows as completed.
  • Click on “remind me” to set a reminder on your calendar.

You can add more notes at the bottom. You can explore the other features if you use Microsoft To-Do in the future.

That’s how you manage your time and productivity using the Action Method and Microsoft To-Do.

The Final Word

It’s best to keep your time management technique simple so you spend more time getting things done. The Action Method can do that for you.

I hope you have great success and happiness!