Too many things, too little time? Use a project action log.

Without doubt, the most useful tool for me when I run a project is a project action log. Projects, and in fact life in general, have a habit of getting crazy. There are often lots of different things going on all at the same time and endless meetings which seem to generate more work not less. Despite being simple, an action log (which is really just a glorified name for a list!) gives me a way of keeping everything under control.

Here are the top five tips the project managers at Easyprojecthub have on action logs:

#1 Create it in excel

You can simply keep a note of all the ‘to do’ items that come up in a notebook and cross them off as they are completed. This absolutely works and is better than no list at all. However if you create your project action log in excel you get some more useful functionality to help you out:

  • SEARCH – you can easily search for keywords
  • FILTER – you can filter by column e.g. if you have a column for action owner you can filter by each person on the team. This is handy in meetings.
  • HISTORIC RECORD – you have a clear record of all the historic actions that you can refer to later down the line. It is surprising how often this is useful.

#2 Make it the FIRST thing you open every day

For a project action log to work you need to USE IT. Make sure you open it up in the morning and have a quick scan down the open actions. This will help set your priorities for the day and remind you of nagging little items that need clearing up.

#3 Write down EVERYTHING

Yes, every action no matter how big or small needs to be on this project action log. It is amazing how often the small, seemingly insignificant actions get forgotten when everyone is focusing on the big problems.

The small actions are often the quick wins and make the team feel good when they get crossed off.

#4 Close actions when they are complete

Always CLOSE actions rather than DELETE them. This means you get your historic record of actions. Have a column titled ‘Closed’ and mark any items that are closed with a ‘Y’. If you want to get clever you can use conditional formatting to turn the whole row a different colour when there is a ‘Y’ in the closed box. This gives a great visual aid when scanning down the list. It helps if you need to recap on closed actions during meetings.

If you’ve set up your RAIDD log (risk, assumption, issue, dependency, decision) you should transfer any actions that can be categorised in those areas to the relevant logs.

#5 How to set it up

Here’s our suggestion of what headings to use in your project action log:

  • ID (give every action a number so that it is easy to refer to them)
  • Date raised
  • Action description
  • Due date
  • Updates
  • Closed

Simple but effective!

Thanks for reading. We’d love to hear your comments.

We’ve created an absolutely FREE pdf summary of this blog post and all of our other blog posts which you can access in our members hub.

The team at Easyprojecthub.

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