No matter your best intentions, you need more than motivation to knock out your to-dos. An action item template—where you decide the who, what, and when of every task—can help you organize your workflows and get more done.Create your template
When tasks aren’t clearly defined, you waste time and energy bouncing from one vague, unrelated item to another. It’s exhausting, and not super effective. Instead, create an action items template to define the who, what, and when of each task. Every time you create a new list, you can duplicate your template and tackle your now-actionable tasks in a more organized and efficient way.
Action items are tasks with a who (assigned team member), what (description), and when (deadline) attached to them. They’re used in repeatable workflows—or, the end-to-end processes that connect tasks, teams, and deadlines. An action items template is a way to save a list of well-defined action items to replicate them for recurring work. For example, if your team manages the company blog, you can create an action item template for quarterly launches to track which posts need to be written and who’s writing them, plus publishing or completion dates.
You typically make a list to track both action and to-do items, but there are several key differences between the two templates:
An action items list organizes the work you need to do in order to move through a workflow. These aren’t just any tasks—everything on this list of action items is related and part of a larger project plan. When completed together, those action items will help move the needle on larger goals and initiatives.
As the name suggests, action items are actionable—while to-do list items can be vague and undefined. For example, let’s say you need to update your onboarding template. A to-do list task would leave it at that, whereas an action item would have a definition (what do you need to do to update the template?), an assigned team member, and an expected due date.
You can use an action item list template for any area where you need to complete a series of tasks. Action item list templates are customizable; set them up visually with Kanban boards and Gantt charts, or create more traditional digital task lists. Or, use them all—in Asana, you can create one project for your action items template and switch between views as needed. Once you create your template, you can also include dependencies that help you coordinate work between a large team.
Because they’re so versatile, you can use an action item list template for many scenarios. Here are a few:
Repeating projects: If you repeat the same set of actions for recurring initiatives, a template can simplify the process. For example, you can create a template for quarterly product updates that always include the same actionable tasks.
Collaborating with others: When multiple members of your team need to manage and access their own versions of your action items list, a template can help. This is best done in project management software because everyone can work off of one, central south of truth.
Sending progress reports: When stakeholders need real-time updates, they can review your team’s action item list template to see how you’re working on the current project. If they have follow-up questions, they know exactly who to contact based on who’s assigned to each item.
An effective action items list template is progressive—starting with a “backlog” or “to-do” section, moving to an “in progress” section, and so on through the project lifecycle, moving from one stage to the next until the task is complete.
Similar to other project management templates, you get the most benefit when you use a dynamic platform for your action item tracker, where you can add details and make updates in real-time. Consider using a visual format—such as a Kanban board tool—to make tracking action items even easier.
Here are some components to add when you create each action item:
The what: A detailed description of your task.
The who: Each action item should have an assignee so everyone knows the responsible party for each task.
The when: Attach standardized deadlines to recurring tasks. For example, you can keep a check-in task to remind you to review the project status for the last day of every month.
The urgency: Denote the priority level of specific tasks, so team members know what to work on first.
List View. List View is a grid-style view that makes it easy to see all of your project’s information at a glance. Like a to-do list or a spreadsheet, List View displays all of your tasks at once so you can not only see task titles and due dates, but also view any relevant custom fields like Priority, Status, or more. Unlock effortless collaboration by giving your entire team visibility into who’s doing what by when.
Board View. Board View is a Kanban board-style view that displays your project’s information in columns. Columns are typically organized by work status (like To Do, Doing, and Done) but you can adjust column titles depending on your project needs. Within each column, tasks are displayed as cards, with a variety of associated information including task title, due date, and custom fields. Track work as it moves through stages and get at-a-glance insight into where your project stands.
Workload. Workload gives you a visual snapshot of team capacity by making it easy to see what your team members are working on across projects—all in one place. With this at-a-glance information, you can pinpoint conflicts, address risks, and keep projects on track by reassigning or rescheduling tasks. Check Workload regularly to make sure team members aren’t overwhelmed or underworked. If they are, you can easily reassign or reschedule low-priority tasks to unblock high-priority initiatives.
Custom fields. Custom fields are the best way to tag, sort, and filter work. Create unique custom fields for any information you need to track—from priority and status to email or phone number. Use custom fields to sort and schedule your to-dos so you know what to work on first. Plus, share custom fields across tasks and projects to ensure consistency across your organization.
Google Workplace. Attach files directly to tasks in Asana with the Google Workplace file chooser, which is built into the Asana task pane. Easily attach any My Drive file with just a few clicks.
OneDrive. Attach files directly to tasks in Asana with the Microsoft OneDrive file chooser, which is built into the Asana task pane. Easily attach files from Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more.
Loom. Loom videos help you add personality, context, and clarity to your Project Overview. You can easily embed Loom videos to explain your project, set expectations, and highlight key milestones. A Loom video message adds nuance and context to get your team up to speed on the project faster. The best part is—your team can watch the videos without leaving Asana.
Dropbox. Attach files directly to tasks in Asana with the Dropbox file chooser, which is built into the Asana task pane.
An action item is a task that needs to be completed with a defined description, deadline, and an assigned team member. Action items usually make up a list of many items that are related to one initiative, project, or workflow.
Action items templates are useful for teams who need to repeat the same series of tasks for recurring initiatives. For example, if your team needs to create a presentation with status updates every month, you can create an associated action item template to make sure the presentation gets done.
Action items work best as achievable, specific tasks. To do that, they need to be clearly defined (describe what needs to get done), include a due date that keeps the task on track, and specify who’s in charge of completing the task.
As many as you need! Your action items list template can include five items for simple workflows (for example, sending a weekly team email) or as many items as you need to complete longer or more complex workflows.
A to-do list is a list of items that need to get done. They can be vague and undefined, or even concepts and ideas. An action items list is a more specific list that moves through a predefined workflow, with attached team members and deadlines.