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8 Tips For DIY Task Management With The NEW ActionMethod

Scott Belsky shares thoughts on taking action and a personal approach to task management to mark the launch of a brand-new ActionMethod Online.

At its best, project management is always DIY and à la carte. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of studying project management in creative teams, it’s that the best systems are highly customized. They use different applications and tools for different purposes. They are a hybrid of analog and digital. And they constantly change. About the only thing that all of the best systems have in common is an emphasis on action.

The most productive people and teams are obsessed with capturing and completing tasks, and they keep iterating their systems until they’re completely satisfied. Which is where the story of ActionMethod begins.

Four years ago, we at Behance weren’t satisfied with the project management systems available, so we decided to embark on a passion project to help organize our own creative process. We called it ActionMethod, and it became our internal system for staying on task as we built Behance, our platform to showcase and discover creative work. Our goal was to create a fast, simple, customizable, cloud-based task management app — a well-designed system that would manage everything actionable in our work — and lives.

The most productive people and teams are obsessed with capturing and completing tasks.

Today, what started as a passion project has become a powerful task management system used by creative people and teams around the world. To mark this week’s launch of a brand-new, fully upgraded version of ActionMethod, I wanted to share a few thoughts on taking action as well as my personal approach to task management and pushing projects forward.

1. Create great tasks!

Every task I create gets saved within a project in my life (whether personal or professional). I assign the color orange for items with extreme importance, and grey for low importance. I assign a due date to almost every task. If it’s more of a “Backburner Item” (something I want to do at an unspecified date in the future), I create the task without a due date, and ActionMethod will automatically lump these Backburner Items together at the bottom of each project.


2. Organize projects within groups.

In ActionMethod, every Action Step (or task) must be assigned to a project. I’ve created many projects, and most of them are organized under group names. For example, under the group name “Behance Network,” I have projects like “Community Outreach,” “Network Development,” “Network Marketing,” etc. Another one of my group names is “Personal,” under which I have projects like “Notes To Write” and “Financial Management.” Sometimes I view my tasks by Group, so I can see all of the tasks for related projects at once. Other times I will spend time focusing on one project at a time.


3. Use your focus area… to focus!

I select up to 5 tasks every day — from across all of my projects — that I need to focus on. I usually just drag them into the “Focus Area” on the top right. Or often times, on the way to work in the morning, I will select a few on my iPhone and click “Add To Focus.” This creates a simple, uncluttered list that I can refer to throughout the day to stay on track.


4. Delegate tasks, and then filter by person.


One of the best parts of ActionMethod is the ability to delegate tasks to anyone with an email address. Of course, this also means that anyone can delegate tasks to you as well! Whenever you get a task delegated to you, you must choose to “accept” or “reject” it. When you accept it, you place it in a project. Every day, I quickly filter all of my tasks by “Delegated to Others” and “Delegated to Me.” By doing this, I can quickly identify who I need to nag, and where I am a bottleneck.

5. Use color for importance, dates for deadlines.

In a chaotic world, how do we balance the important with the urgent? I assign colors to each task (orange, blue, or grey) based on level of importance. Separately, I assign due dates based on urgency and deadlines. While I spend most of my day completing tasks that are due today and tomorrow, I also try to sort by color to keep the orange (very important) tasks top of mind.


6. Use keyword search to be a better manager.

There are many tasks that I create, across projects, for things I want to check on — and ensure are completed. I include the word “ensure” in these tasks, which lets me search “All Action Steps” with the word “ensure” to get a view on everything I need to confirm as a manager.


7. Share a project for transparency and collaboration.

I “share” certain projects in order to provide visibility to my team on tasks in projects that we’re collaborating on. Every now and then, I’ll click “View All Action Steps” in a shared project to see what other people are doing. By sharing a project (just click the gear icon next to any project in the list!), you can allow other people you work with to see your tasks — and you can see theirs. In addition, you can share files in a shared project — and start discussions.


8. Start a ritual of bumping overdue tasks.

Every evening, I bump (or quickly complete) my overdue tasks to future dates. In ActionMethod, you can simply drag the tasks to future dates. Alternatively, you can just click the date icon to select a new due date in the future.


As I mentioned earlier, we launched the brand new ActionMethod this week. If you haven’t tried it, check it out for free!


If you’re a past user, you’ll be pleased to hear that we re-designed and re-built the application from the ground up. You can learn more about the changes and updates we made to the application on our team blog.

I hope these tips are helpful if you use ActionMethod — or any other online task management tool. Whatever you do, keep iterating and work with a bias-towards-action.  Thanks for your feedback as we continue to improve ActionMethod as one of Behance’s efforts to organize and empower the creative world!

More Posts by Scott Belsky

Scott Belsky is the Chief Product Officer at Adobe and is the co-founder of 99U and Behance. He has been called one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company, and is the author of The Messy Middle and the bestselling book, Making Ideas Happen.

Comments (28)
  • Shashank Samala

    I love this! Never used it before, but excited to try out the latest version! Thanks for posting!

  • Srinivas Rao

    Loving the new version. Since I started using the action method, I seem to get more done in far less time/

  • jdelvat

    I will try it right away, but my question is : do you support recurring tasks?
    For instance, systems monitors, travel expenses, monthly reports, …

  • Mell, Community Manager

    Hey guys, Mell from the ActionMethod support team here. If you have any questions, please contact us at https://actionmethod.zendesk.c… . Thanks!

  • nimee

    i will definitely try this out. maybe this is the solution for my organisation problem.

  • Mary Kaichini

    Looks cool andw hat I like rather serious and the tool can realy organize the life of the office and the project. I am using Comindware task management system for my projects and it looks the same quality as Actionmethod.

  • Gary

    I like the addition of Groups to Action Method. I am a new user.
    I am having trouble running projects in Groups, as there is no linkage I can find to save a new project in a Group. The new project just goes to the bottom of the overall list and if as I have there a lot of groups then it is really difficult to drag the project in to a group. Is this something that could be addressed? or Any handy hints?

  • Thomas A. Wilson

    I’ve been using ActionMethod for a little while now and have seen my productivity skyrocket! Trying to balance my freelance work as well as business work and my participation in another company can make things hairy, especially knowing I don’t have the keenest memory. Thanks a ton for this jewel of a program to help keep me focused and on track!

  • Scott Belsky

    We’re working on a feature to support that… No ETA yet, but we’ve received many requests for it…

  • Scott Belsky

    Thomas – glad to hear it. Has made a huge difference for our team’s workflow as well…

  • Scott Belsky

    Not sure what you’re describing? Projects can be dragged into Groups pretty easily. We created “Groups” to make it easy to aggregate projects together and then view Action Steps in related projects with one single filter.

  • Scott Belsky

    Great to hear that….

  • LuisaM.

    I’m not sure if someone already ask this but, is crazy to think in connect this application with an email account that you can keep track and actually incorporate taks directly from it?

  • abberdab

    Yes, +1 for recurring tasks!

  • c walker

    is action method always free or is it a time bomb?

  • Cris

    Android tablet-optimised version by any chance?

  • Seb,

    Congratulations for your tool ! Was wondering whether you were/could be working on an enhancement where you could capture “task duration : planned/actual” kind of thing… Many Thanks for your feedback.

  • Codi Betts

    Scott. Widget for Android so it comes up on my main screen. This is a need. Then I can have it right over Evernote and will then be completely superhuman. Next all we need is a subliminal messaging feature… oh yes! of course I will develop it for you, didn’t think you would ask.

  • Studio Wander

    This is by FAR the best and most intuitive Task Management tool I’ve come across. Everything else I’ve tried up to this point (with the exception of Things, I guess) has been borderline useless. I love you Behance.

  • Marianna Mills

    I quickly assessed the capabilities of these systems, and I think this system could be useful to many companies. We also liked the free version TeamWox (… and rich functionality and we would like to start working with him. Does anyone know how to export tasks from one system and import it into another?

  • Cymbelline

    Just signed up with my Google account! Awesome UX. Sadly, there are some buttons with slow response rate. Or maybe, it could be my internet? I’ve already added my team mates on this platform. Looking forward to other additions!

  • Mitchel

    Is there a way to view completed tasks?

  • Gtdagenda

    We would recommend checking out Gtdagenda for an online GTD manager.

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote, and also comes with mobile-web version, and Android and iPhone apps.

  • SharonW

    I would like to suggest ProjectDesk for web based project management – free for up to 4 users.

  • Jesse Tallman

    May I suggest adding the ability to Email Notes and send Calendar invites (for scheduled tasks) from Action Method (at least from a mobile device). It would also be nice if I could hide the overdue notices on completed tasks when I print them.

    Thank you for a beautiful, easy to use tool!

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