How many times have you attended a meeting, been given a list of Action Items and then 30 minutes before the meeting scrambled to get them done?
On the flip side, how many times have you handed out Action Items from a meeting only to see them being done 30 minutes before the meeting?
In both cases, knowing that they are not 30 minute items to complete.
The problem with Action Items is we treat them as actions to be done on top of our normal work so they get pushed to the bottom.
The Meeting Minutes come out, we assign everything to everyone, but when we get back together a week later they are either missed, forgotten or haphazardly done.
It’s a vicious cycle where the only fix is to start on your Action Items when they are assigned to you – that first 30 minutes after the meeting – lay them out, do some investigative work on them and provide a quick update.
The goal isn’t to get them done in that first 30 minutes, the goal is to trigger the event in your mind that says – “these cannot be done in 30 minutes so I’d better schedule some time early in the week to look at them at a more in-depth level” – so you can report on them correctly.
Maybe on that second pass you will not finish them – that’s okay.
But it’s better to have tried, really tried to work on those Action Items, than gloss over them and turn on the spin cycle for the simple sake of a meeting.