A colleague and I are constructing a new type of organization, and at times at the outset I felt overwhelmed and a bit paralyzed. It comes with having an enormous vault of ideas, and a need for speed, while needing also to quickly put up an infrastructure (in this case a marketing infrastructure) that is woven piece into piece. This weekend, I revisited my part of the plan, and used a GTD (David Allen) principle: I converted everything into action items. Nothing was left without a verb. If it was going to stay on ‘paper’, it would have a specific action and an assigned person. It’s the equivalent of something we’ve quoted before – when you read, don’t make notes, make action lists.
I came away with a feeling of calm and clarity. What was a pile of building blocks became a highway – a direction paved with specific, achievable, measurable exertions. Action items are the joy of achievers. It feels like swatting a mountain until everything is action items. Once that occurs, it’s more like slicing cheese.
Not only are action items good for me, they’re good for clients. It’s something borrowed from effective business in the corporate sector. Provide your client a list of deliverables you’ll deliver, and a list of specifics they need to deliver. All projects depend on both, because sound projects are ultimately collaborative. Then convert your own list of deliverables into specific actions. Don’t leave them alone as outcomes – list the steps, for yourself, to complete them. After that, it’s just a pot of tea and your favorite background noise, with clear direction on a clear day.