Why I’ve Switched My List Management to Workflowy

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What's the biggest secret to being productive? Being organized. And being productive is a huge thing for me in my web design business. There are so many thinks that I need to keep track of, and so many things that have to get done, that not a day goes by without me referring to my task lists over and over.

I'm no expert in either productivity or organization, but I've found a tool that helps me do both without stressing out and that tool is called Workflowy. I've been a list-keeper for a long time now, but every tool that I've used has left me less than satisfied. However that's changed.

I've switched all my list-keeping stuff to Workflowy and it works like a charm.

One (really big) list to rule them all!

workflowy-youtubeFor a long time, I used Wunderlist and it's a fantastic tool, but it just got to the point where it didn't work with the way I work. The new version is definitely an improvement, but it felt like it was too restrictive, and the deal-breaker was that I couldn't hide completed tasks in the new version. There is nothing wrong with Wunderlist, it's just that my needs have changed (or become clearer) and it just didn't get the job done for me any more.

When I first tried Workflowy, I was immediately sucked in by how easy it is to use. The genius is in the simplicity. It's one document where you can keep all kinds of things in deeper and deeper levels of lists. Their tagline, "Organize your brain" is a great description for how you can use this tool and their claim that it mimics the way you think has proven true for me.

It utilizes common keyboard shortcuts that are familiar to anyone who has used a text editor, and gives you the ability to easily drill down in to lists inside of lists inside of lists, and this easy flow of movement makes it fast.

workflowy-iphoneThe biggest development recently, and what's helped me commit to making the full transition is the iPhone app that's now available. Just like the web-based edition, this version is quick and easy to work with.

Each item has the ability to add notes to them too, and I've used this extensively with my assistant to explain how things are supposed to work. 

You can collapse all the lists down to their title which is huge. Right now, I've got 12 items in my top level list, two of which are "What I need to get done this week" and "What I need to get done today". 

The list is searchable, and taggable which makes it even easier to use if you're using it with a team. 

Free version vs. Premium

At this point, my usage hasn't come to the point that I need to upgrade, but once I do, I'll have no problem pulling the trigger. This tool works without a hitch, and the only question I've had for their support guys is regarding the shared notes, but it was really no big deal at all. You can see more about what you get with Workflowy Pro by watching the video linked here.

A Couple things I'd like to See

I would love to have the ability to have a little more control over the display. I'd like to be able to control the text sizes of the items in the list, like being able to use simple stuff like, bold, italics, and underline and a little more control over text size, but these are really trivial in the grand scheme of things.

Right now, so far as I can tell, when I share a list with someone, even if they're another Workflowy user, that note does not show up in their account, but instead is available only via the shared link, so I'd like to see a little better note sharing functionality. Maybe this is something that the premium version does, but I'm not entirely sure.

I'd like to also see a good way to manage completed items and archives. This could just be a matter of me setting things up differently, but completed tasks are counted against your task total for the free version, so when I was getting close to the limit, I just made all the completed tasks visible again and deleted them. Not the perfect solution, but it worked. 

How I Use it With Evernote

workflowy-evernoteUsing it in conjunction with Evernote is easy and I've been able to streamline using Evernote for a lot of things too. I'll never relinquish using Evernote, but I'm finding that it's much easier to use Workflowy for keeping certain kinds of notes – quick, one-off ideas that you need to get out on "paper" quickly.

If I need to reference something in Evernote I can simply link it up by pasting the Evernote link in to Workflowy. But for the most part, things in Evernote haven't changed too much, and I've still got the corresponding notebooks for all the different projects and tasks so it's easy to find what I'm looking for there. 

As mentioned above, I use Workflowy for lists and keeping track of things that need to be done. I use Evernote for notes and documents. This process is very much the same way I originally used Wunderlist in conjuntion with Evernote. 

I'm working on a way to eliminate Basecamp by using Workflowy with Evernote, and have had some success, and some things are pretty straight forward and similar to how I did them previously with Wunderlist, but I've not quite perfected the recipe yet. I don't currently see a way to use them to eliminate Highrise, so I'll probably keep using that one for the foreseable future.

I still do all my writing in Evernote. I've got a "blog" notebook stack that I use to keep track of all of my blog posts. But my "ideas" list has moved in to Workflowy just because it's so easy to fire off ideas as quick as they come and check them off as I go. 

My general rule is that I use Evernote to collect and store information about projects I'm working on, both personal and for work, but the task and ideas lists are in Workflowy. It works for me.

Workflowy rocks and I think you'll love it! It's just dead simple to use, and if you are list-keeper of any kind, you'll immediately be drawn in by how well things flow when you're doing your planning and organizing. Couple that with being able to tag things and share your lists and I think it's a no-brainer to pull the trigger on this tool.

So now it's your turn. Are you using Workflowy now? How do you use it? I want to hear about your best-practices and hacks for getting more out of it! If you're not using it – what are you using?