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How to Use An Action Log & Free Template

Get a free action log template

My To Do list is massive. So I have developed an action log to control my tasks. I copy and paste actions from conference calls, team meetings and those chance conversations you have in the corridor into this. I can filter it by task owner when I am talking to someone and want to chase them up.

I can filter out the closed tasks without having to delete them – it’s simple, but it works for me.

Here’s what one reader had to say about this template:

Your action log has changed my life. As I’ve used it for a few weeks now it’s also starting to become a source of reassurance as I look at items now closed and think, “Phew I have done stuff”.

~ Caroline

And I’m giving it to you. If you want it. This free action log template is the one I use on all my projects.

It’s an Excel spreadsheet template will help you stay on top of your tasks.

Enter your email address below and you will have access to the free action log template, as well as all the other resources in our template library.

How To Use The Action Log Template

Think of this as your amazing To Do list.

You record the task, who is responsible for  it and what the latest updates are. You can add more updates as and when you need to, so that you keep the whole history of what is being done on that piece of work.

I like to record tasks that other people are responsible for as well. As a project manager, I’m responsible for checking in with others and making sure that they are doing the work that needs to be done.

In fact, making tasks transparent is one of the ways to get other people to take responsibility for their work.

Writing it down and sharing the list before each meeting makes it difficult for others to say that they didn’t know they had taken away an action from the previous meeting.

I talk about how to use an action log for your meeting action tracking and project management in the video below.

What’s In the Action Log Template

This task tracking template is a really simple spreadsheet. You could probably come up with  it yourself, but why bother when I’ve done it for you?

The spreadsheet includes columns to help you track:

  • Action/task number – this makes it possible for you to easily refer to an action on the list instead of having to describe the work
  • The task description
  • Where the task originated from (did it arise from a meeting, an email, a corridor conversation? Categorize the tasks if it helps)
  • The action owner who is responsible for doing the task
  • The date the action was first raised (you can also include target completion date if you find that helpful to manage action priorities)
  • Updates, so you can track each little step that is taken towards completing the action
  • Action status: open, closed, on hold, complete etc, so you can easily filter out things that you don’t need to be paying attention to right now.

As it’s an Excel spreadsheet template, you can add or remove columns to make it work for you.

Tracking Meeting Actions

I designed it with project managers (me) in mind but actually it works well for anyone who needs to keep track of multiple actions. That makes it great for people who attend a lot of meetings and want to consolidate the actions in a single place.

Use the category/theme column to track which type of meeting generated which action. Then, before your next meeting, filter the column on that meeting and review the outstanding actions.

When you get to the meeting, things will go more smoothly and you should be registering more progress, because people reviewed and completed their tasks before you met.

At least, that’s the theory! In practice, most people need to be reminded of what they said they would do, so your task review needs to also include getting in touch with action owners and reminding them of what they said they would complete.

You can adapt it as you see fit to make it work for you, add color coding or whatever you like.

Enter your email in the box below to get access to my free Resource Library. It has all of my free checklists, guides, and templates including the project action log.

The only thing I ask is that you don’t sell it on. As if you would!

What If This Isn’t Enough?

If you need a more comprehensive project tracking spreadsheet that includes a way to record actions, issues, risks, changes and more, my Project Workbook is perfect for you. Click the picture below to get more details.

Get a project workbook to record actions, risks, changes, issues and more and stay on top of your work

Meanwhile, don’t forget that you can get a simple action log by entering your email in the box below. Enjoy!

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Action Log Template

About Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth HarrinElizabeth Harrin is a Fellow of the Association for Project Management in the UK and the award-winning blogger behind A Girl's Guide To Project Management. She's passionate about demystifying project management and making tools and techniques work in the real world. She's also the author of several books including the PMI bestseller, Collaboration Tools for Project Managers.

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