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Taking a Quick Look at Do Way, Way More in WorkFlowy

A man fiddling with a smartphone, with a book in front of him

Frank Degenaar likes WorkFlowy. A lot. So much so that the folks behind WorkFlowy appointed him blogger in residence. If that wasn’t enough, he also wrote a book about it. Do Way, Way More in WorkFlowy is the definitive guide to the application. As the title suggests, you’ll be introduced to ways of using WorkFlowy that you might not have imagined.

Let’s take a quick look at it.

Getting the Lay of the Land

When I started using WorkFlowy, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it or what it could do. WorkFlowy was a blank canvas. Several of the people I’ve coached over the years also ran into that problem.

To get around that, Degenaar patiently explains what WorkFlowy is, what it does, and what it can do. Most importantly, he focuses on what he calls WorkFlowy’s superpower: zoomability (which lets you focus on a single item by clicking its heading).

Getting Down to Work

Now that you understand what WorkFlowy is all about, it’s time to get to work.

Degenaar doesn’t go into everything that you can potentially do with WorkFlowy. And that’s a good thing, because the book would run far longer than it’s 254 pages! Instead, he focuses on:

  • Using tags and search
  • Hyperlinking
  • Managing tasks
  • Journaling
  • Using WorkFlowy with other applications
  • How to plan and write a book with WorkFlowy

The chapters I found most interesting were the ones that covered using tags, managing tasks, and journaling.

Effectively Using Tags

That’s something I haven’t really done as much as I should have in WorkFlowy. Tags are like shortcuts. You add them to items in WorkFlowy to make them easier to find. The beauty of tags, as Degenaar points out, is that they give you fast access to specific tasks and to items in outlines and lists. Tags save you a lot time searching and hunting.

Degenaar suggests adding tags to titles of lists, not just to individual items in your lists so:

When one engages (clicks on) a tag in a parent list, it will connect you to a tag in a child list, no matter how deep in the hierarchy. Then one simply clicks on the bullet of the child list to zoom in.

He also advises adding tags at top of a WorkFlowy page for even faster access. If you use a lot of tags, that can get messy. However, if you limit the number of tags you use, this technique can be very effective.

Task Management

The way I manage my tasks in WorkFlowy is quite simple. That works for me, but it might not be enough for other people.

Degenaar’s system for task management is heavily influenced by a productivity system called Getting Things Done (GTD for short). And while I’m not a fan of GTD, some of what Degenaar covers in this chapter is useful and applies to the way I handle my tasks.

Degenaar bases task management around Covey’s time management grid, a way of adding priority to your tasks. But, as he points out:

What’s important is to find some method of consistently deciding which tasks you deem most valuable each day… and sticking with it.

To be honest Degenaar lost me when he discussed how to use tickler files to set a (manual) hands-on “reminder” for future tasks which will stream towards you, one day at a time and to deal with recurring tasks. I’ve tried incorporating both into my workflow in the past and neither did much to help make me more productive. They merely added a layer of complexity where I didn’t see the need for such a layer.

I was, however, intrigued by the way in which Degenaar applied the Pomodoro Technique to WorkFlowy. That involved, in true Pomodoro fashion, noting down what he needed to cover in each chapter of this book, breaking them down into individual Pomodoro, and then tackling each one. It definitely adds focus to the idea of task list.

Journaling

Like Degenaar, I’m not a prolific journaler. Weeks, even months, can go by between journal entries. While I always realized that WorkFlowy can be an effective tool to maintain a personal journals, Do Way, Way More in Workflowy showed me just how effective it can be.

Degenaar advises tagging journal entries when and if possible. Why? To make them easier to find (hey, you might want to revisit some entries in the future!) and to link them to tasks or outlines. Those journal entries might also hold ideas you’ll want to use in the future. Tagging helps you find them faster, especially if you have a tag list at the top of your page.

Final Thoughts

Do Way, Way More in WorkFlowy goes a long way to dispel the idea that WorkFlowy is nothing more than a big bullet list. I’ve been using the application for quite a while, and I learned more than a couple of new tricks from this book.

A lot of what Do Way, Way More in WorkFlowy covers doesn’t mesh with the way I use WorkFlowy, or with my philosophy about productivity. Having said that, it’s a book that I wish I had when I first started using WorkFlowy. The book would have helped turn my early stumbles into confident steps.

Whether you’re just getting started with WorkFlowy or have been using it for a while, you’ll learn something new from Do Way, Way More in WorkFlowy. It’s definitely worth the $9.95 price tag.

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