5 Ways to Make Action Items Work for You (Video)

By Liz McBride

Thomas H., one of our subscribers, asked, "What are some best action-item-best-practices.jpg
practices on the Action List features in Rhythm software?"

I’ve always been a dreamer - enjoying the view from 10,000 feet as I envision the future. Although they are sometimes a buzz kill, I need to be surrounded by realists who pull me down to 5,000 feet with detailed plans on how to actually get there. Action Items are my realists - they are the reality check to my dreamy plans.When I set out each quarter with my lofty priorities and goals, I invite my realists, or Action Items, to the session. Realists love Action Items, too, because nothing makes a realist feel more whole than checking things off of their list. Whether you’re a dreamer or a realist who hasn’t yet fallen in love with Action Items, here’s why you should:

  • They are your priorities’ reality check. If you create 3-5 Action Items or milestones for how to successfully complete your priority in the thirteen weeks, you have already started executing towards a realistic goal. If you have no idea how you’re going to accomplish your priority and can’t come up with your 3-5, it’s a sign that you should revisit your Red-Yellow-Green success criteria before the new quarter begins. It’s better to have this reality check sooner than later; so, consider Action Items as a critical component in execution-ready plans.
  • They help you forecast each week. When priorities are Green through most of the quarter and then turn Red in the last few weeks, chances are, there weren’t any Action Items created. Action Items help you to more accurately forecast each week whether or not you will be Green by Week 13. If you are behind on your Action Items, then you should be statusing Yellow or Red earlier in the quarter while there is still time to make the necessary adjustments to get back on track.

Now that you feel the love, how do you make them work for you?


Here are 5 action item tips:

  1. Lose your To Do List: Action Items without dates are equivalent to your weekend “To Do” list that never gets fully implemented, and, let’s face it, most of us will lose the list and have to start a new one. Without dates, your Action Items will get lost in your All Actions List. Dates will sort and bubble up the next actions that need your attention. Lose the To Do list and commit to executing with Actions.
  2. Get Back on Track: During your Weekly Meeting Prep, as you’re commenting on your Yellow or Red priorities to share what you are going to do to get it back on track, ask yourself, “What can I do to get back to Green?” Create corresponding Action Items while you’re already thinking of next steps. You can even assign Action Items to other users (Tip: make sure to give them a heads up to gain commitment).
  3. Facilitate with Impact:  When it’s your turn to facilitate the Weekly Adjustment Meeting, ask for input from the team on other ideas to get the KPIs or Priorities back to Green. Capture Action Items and agree on the owner and timing. If you’re using Other Meetings to make adjustments or for Think Rhythms, you can capture Action Items there as well. Think of how much more efficient this is to document next steps rather than scheduling a follow up meeting!
  4. Own the Day: Don’t get lost in your email Inbox. First, go to Rhythm’s My Work > Needs Attention screen. Action Items either due this week or overdue will be all you see listed here. In the same screen, look at your Week in Sync notes and add any Action Items to reflect what you said you would do for a successful week. Start your day checking things off of your Actions List to make today and every day the most productive.
  5. Get Notified: In your Settings, select when you wish to receive Action Item notifications to your email. I receive an email notification Sunday evenings letting me know all my Action Items for the upcoming week to help me transition back into the week ahead. I find this keeps the things I need to execute on top of mind rather than being led solely by the amount of meetings I have. You can also select “Add to Calendar” for Action Items you wish to view in your calendar to give you a holistic view of your week.

Action-List.pngAction Items ensure you are realistically executing daily and forecasting weekly towards your priorities. Rhythm gives you several options for keeping these powerful execution tools top of mind - find the method that’s right for you.

I’ve checked my “Write a Blog” off of my Actions List, and now I’m off to the store. Now, where did I put my list?


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

Liz McBride


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images