HR Glossary
Action item

Action item

Updated on:
August 23, 2022


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Table of Content

What is an Action item? 

An action item is something that needs urgent attention. It means there's a problem and it's necessary to fix it while you are not sure how to do it.

An action item is a discrete task that must be accomplished 

Action items typically arise from meetings and should always be clearly documented. Most people overestimate how well they are likely to remember things.

Action items are often included in project management checklists. They get done first, of course, because urgent things always take precedence.

Simply put, an action item is a specific task that’s intentionally crafted to be accomplished in a timely manner. An action item:

  • Is a clear, specific duty
  • Begins with a defining verb (e.g., appoint, assemble, decide, evaluate, present, test, etc.)
  • Is often agreed on during a meeting environment
  • Is assigned to a certain employee or team of employees
  • Is placed on a to-do list
  • Can’t be broken down into smaller tasks
  • Includes pertaining details
  • Must be completed by a designated due date
  • Has a specified desired outcome
  • Moves the organization or team toward the completion of a project or achievement of a significant goal

Why are action items necessary?

Action items are necessary because they help individuals and groups track progress towards goals and objectives. Action items also help to ensure that tasks are completed in a timely manner.

Action Items vs. Tasks?


Tasks and action items are both things that you need to accomplish.

Tasks are specific actions that you need to perform. For instance, a task could be to send an email or to print a document.

Action items, on the other hand, are all of the tasks that you need to complete to complete a project. An action item could be to initiate a process, schedule a meeting, or review a contract.

Both task and action items help organize the busy workday and are an important part of project management.