Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Managing Your Tasks with WorkFlowy

One essential tool in my toolkit is WorkFlowy. It’s billed as a web application that can help you Organize your brain. And maybe it can. But I find that it’s a bit like Evernote in one way: it’s very free form. WorkFlowy can be just about anything to anyone. Or everything to everyone.

And as with my initial fumblings with Evernote, I spent the longest time trying to figure out what to do with WorkFlowy and how it fit into my scheme of things. It took me a little while, but the key was to narrow my focus.

One of those focal points is task management. And I’m not alone. I know a number of people who use WorkFlowy as their to-do lists — they generally use the app to create a flat list of tasks. I don’t think that’s the best way to create a task list.

As I discussed in another post, creating a flat to-do list means you wind up with a long, intimidating, and sometimes demoralizing list of tasks. One that saps your motivation and confidence.

Let’s take a look at a better way of creating a task list with WorkFlowy.

Breaking your list down

You should focus your to-do list. Keep it short and turn it into a daily task list. Pick two or three or even four of the most important items on the list and complete them today. Then, stop and create a to-do list for tomorrow. Try not to add anything to the list for today.

With WorkFlowy, I do that by year, month, and day. I started by creating a new node called Task Lists - 2013. Under it, I created a node for each month — for example, January. From there, I created nodes under each month for days of the month — usually only Monday to Friday each week. Why only Monday to Friday? Because I try to take the weekends off.

Since I don’t put my task lists together more than a few days ahead, I only create the nodes for those days, along with the tasks for those days. Like this:

A task list in WorkFlowy

From there, type in tasks for the day. Indent them by pressing the Tab key on your keyboard so they’re offset from the heading for that day. This comes into play in a moment.

If you need to add a bit more detail to your tasks, hover your mouse pointer over the bullet for a task and then click Add Note on the menu that flies out. From there, you can type sentence or three below the task.

Adding a note to a task in WorkFlowy

Having a long list of tasks can be messy. Very messy. But you’re not stuck with that long list. To focus on the tasks for a single day, click the heading for that day. That heading (and what’s beneath it) opens in a new page. You can focus solely on what you need to tackle, without anything else in WorkFlowy distracting you.

Summing Up

There are people who deride WorkFlowy for sticking with a linear method of doing everything. It’s a valid criticism, but one that doesn’t hold much water with me. In the months that I’ve been using WorkFlowy to manage my tasks, that linear focus has helped rather than hindered me.

Thoughts? Let's start a conversation on Twitter.

Did you enjoy this post or find it useful? Then please consider supporting this blog with a micropayment via PayPal. Thanks!