How a little tool called Workflowy can save your sanity

Today I’m introducing a new guest blogger to Business Plus Baby – Christelle Donaldson of The Handy Marketer. Over to you Christelle!

When it comes to work, I am a very organized person and I make the most out of the tools available at hand. I plan my week, I plan my day, I set reminders, I block time on my own to work on key projects, nothing escapes me. But at home, it can be a different story. I forget to pick up the mail, to put the trash out on the right day, to call my parents when I said I would and worst, to pay bills in time. My husband keeps getting frustrated with me and told me once: “don’t you have a whole army of tools that you use at work? Can’t you use them at home too?” Good question.

I tried a few options: Evernote, Google Tasks, Teux Deux, Reminders, Remember the Milk.  All these fancy apps that can do wonders, if only you stick with them long enough. But that was always the problem, getting used to the app, finding how best to use it and building a habit of looking at my tasks regularly. I found all these tools to be too sophisticated, offering too many options, needing too many clicks to update them.

And then I learned about Workflowy. I instantly fell in love with it and started using it seamlessly at work and at home.

Workflowy is an online tool for taking notes and making lists. It works quite differently from other applications in the way that you simply write lists and keep adding new lists or sub-categories. You can also zoom on a list, collapse or expand items, mark them as complete, use hash tags and search through your lists, making the tool very powerful yet simple to use.

Here is why I love Workflowy:

  • It’s simple: You don’t need to learn how to use it, it’s almost like writing on paper. In fact the help menu is very small since it is so easy to use.
  • There are no distractions: the interface is very minimalist so there are no distractions around. You just write on the page and do nothing else. Workflowy doesn’t offer the option of formatting your text, so you don’t fiddle around.
  • It’s online and mobile: Workflowy is a cloud based tool so you can access it anywhere as long as you can find a browser and an internet connection. This is why I love it, because I can use it at the office and at home without having to install a new software on my computer. The mobile application is also very practical and can work offline.
  • It’s printable: you can choose to print any part of your lists, whether big or small, and make it a full page document. Very practical for shopping lists!
  • It’s beautiful: this might not be important to you, but I look at my list all day so I’d rather have something pretty to look at.
  • It’s free: with a free account you can create hundreds of items per month. So far I never reached the limit, and I know that I can increase it if I need.

I encourage you to have a look at the tool and try it for yourself. And if you are still wondering what you can use it for, I’ll give you a sneak peek into the way I organize it, just from a task management perspective (you could use it for much more):

Workflowy-setup-1

What about you, what tool do you use to stay organized?

Christelle Donaldson is a busy mom working as a professional marketer and blogging at The Handy Marketer. She offers practical marketing tips and is the author of Business Blogging for Beginners.

Comments

  1. I love Workflowy too, and I’m a naturally disorganised person! I used it to plan my book and I now use it as my productivity tool of choice too. In the team I work with at Think Productive, our productivity ninjas all use different tools – some like Toodledoo, some like Remember the Milk, Omnifocus, Outlook or others. I find the simplicity of Workflowy works for me. Like you said, no distractions or shiny features to play with :)

  2. I just make paper lists every evening. It looks pretty similar and it works absolutely fine for me. Am I too old-fashioned?

    • Nothing wrong with paper lists, I love them. For me the major benefit of Workflowy is being able to access it anywhere. I never forget it on my desk :)

  3. Paper lists for me too….. lots of them…. usually covered in coloured pen and drawings of bananas or treasure maps or whatever is the doodle of the moment for my daughter…. but it works for me!

  4. I haven’t tried Workflowy yet (although I will because it’s been highly recommended) but I currently do this kind of thing in Evernote. I used to have a notebook that I kept near me everywhere I went, but found it a lot easier to manage the contents of my brain in Evernote than in an untidy collection of pages and books. :0)

    But whatever works best for you is fine!

  5. Do you think this is better than outlook?…seems quite good but just yet “another” piece of technology to learn. Can we end up spending too much time creating our lists instead of just getting on with the job in hand?

  6. Gosh your all very organised….I tend to keep it all in my head except reminders and appointments on my phone and now and then paper list if i remember lol! I think I’ll try Workflowy for a bit and see if it helps – hope its secure – the simplicity of it is nice

  7. I switched from one of the most complex (but good still: it did sort items very well, for example, and is excellent for some power users) task managers to one of the simplest: Workflowy.

    Am loving workflowy a lot more! Paper on steroids is about right.

    Oh, and it’s so much more than task management. Virtually anything you can do with paper you can do with Workflowy. It’s a fantastic outliner, for example, and I use it for my workout journal, other journals, even have many of my favourite poems stashed away in it.

    • Virtually anything you can do on paper aside from drawing, alas.

      If one day they had a pro plus plus account (similar to Toodledo’s model where you can buy advanced sorting features for a set price a year, and add file attachments for double that) where you could attach files to it, without changing the organisation of the app at all, that would be wicked. But only if it doesn’t slow it down or negate the advantages of the simplicity it has now.

      I.e., attach file, and that’s about it. No need to overthink it.

      • Thanks for all your comments, Christoph! I’ve finally just signed up with Workflowy and so far I love the simplicity. You’ve mentioned some features that I haven’t yet discovered, though, so I’ll look out for those.

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