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

Organizing Yourself with Little Outliner

For years, I’ve been using one outliner or another to plan and manage my writing. But I’ve also used outliners to manage my tasks and plan other work. For the longest time, my outliner of choice was Workflowy.

Workflowy isn’t the only game in town. If you’re on the lookout for something very simple, then you’ll want to a peek at Little Outliner. Which is what we’re going to do now.

Ready? Then read on.

Simplicity is the key

Little Outliner is nothing fancy. It’s very basic, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As its name suggests, the tools is for outlining. But you can also use it as a daily task list.

It’s easy to use Little Outliner. Just click in the editing area and start typing. When you want to add a new item to your outline, press Enter. You indent items by pressing the Tab key on your keyboard, and outdent them by pressing Shift+Tab.

Here’s what an outline created in Little Outliner looks like:

Little Outliner in action

There are a few more functions — including ones to move items around — under the Outliner and Reorg menus at the top of the Little Outliner window. You may or may not use them. While I was working with the tool, I never did.

Little Outliner saves your outline to a location on your computer that your web browser can read. You won’t lose anything, unless your hard drive dies. When you return to Little Outliner, you can continue from where you left off.

If you want to pull an outline from another application into Little Outliner, or export your outline to another outliner, you can use a file format called OPML. OPML saves the structure and content of outlines, so you don’t lose any information or formatting when you move your content around.

Limitations

You’ll notice a few paragraphs ago that I referred to your outline (singular). That’s because in Little Outliner you can only work on one outline at a time.

Because Little Outliner stores your outline on your computer, you can only work with an outline with the computer on which it was created. However, the folks behind Little Outliner have another web-based tool, called Fargo, which syncs with Dropbox. This lets you work with your outline on any computer. All you need to do is log into Fargo and start typing.

Final thoughts

Little Outliner is limited. But it’s good if you want to focus on a single project, or if you’re just getting into outlining and want to play around. You can just create and use an outline, then delete it. Or, if you’re using Little Outliner as a task list, enter the tasks for a particular day or week. Then, delete those tasks as you finish them.

While Little Outliner is limited, it is a good tool for learning how to create an effective outline. But you’ll quickly run into Little Outliner’s limitations. If want an outliner with more features, then I suggest you take a look at Workflowy or Fargo.

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