Workflowy has been described as “the one list to rule them all”. Built on a very basic premise, Workflowy adds some simple functionality to create a surprisingly powerful and effective productivity app. It has a free base membership with a modestly priced premium level with some extra features.
Workflowy is built on a foundation of nested bullet point lists. It may not look fancy or impressive but the lack of flashy dashboards and features also mean it is extremely easy to use and there are no distractions. You are not bound by hard coded structures meaning you can organise and order your lists as you like. A list per project maybe or different lists based on priority level, how about one for work and one for personal. Oh and everyone has to have a list of ideas.
I tried to think of the one specific feature that makes workflowy indispensable for me but I couldn’t. The best I could manage was to narrow it down to four key aspects to workflowy which I cannot do without and cannot find anywhere else (at least not done as well anyway).
Does part of your list contain things which are not your primary focus right now, maybe stuff you need for next week? If so you can collapse that part of your list leaving you with only the stuff you do need to focus on. Come next week you can just expand that list again bringing it back into focus. As an extension of this you can also focus in on specific areas of your list.
The ability to tag list items with hashtags is Workflowys turbocharger. It automatically builds up a list of the hashtags you use making them quick and easy to add and then search for. This effectively adds a whole second dimension to your lists as you can filter list items by the hashtags you have added.
Being able to all or part of your list with other people can make delegation of or collaboration on projects and tasks amazingly simple. The tagging system allows you to @tag people by name so you everyone knows who is working on what. It also makes things like doing the weekly shop so much easier when you can share a shopping list with your partner.
One feature which I feel lets many project management tools down is their ability to add tasks which occur on a regular basis. Many leave you having to create the same tasks each week or month while those with automation have usually been very rigid in their functionality (at least in my experience).
Like so many other things in workflowy, their solution is to make a another list, a list of things you need to do each month which you can then copy. You can use the same system for creating template lists.
Workflowy has a range of other features including the ability to mark items as complete, export lists (either formatted or in plain text), add notes to list items for when you need to add a little extra info and a handy keyboard shortcuts popup.
The extra features that come with a premium signup include different skins for workflowy, unlimited list items (free membership gives you a 500 item per month limit) and password protected collaboration (normal list sharing is done via links). There is also an offline version for premium members in the pipeline which will let you install workflowy on your desktop, a feature that will be worth the premium membership costs of $49 per year alone.
While I am a big believer in horses for courses, I’ve tried a number of workload management tools now but workflowy has never been far away from my side. When the other hit a functionality brick wall or began to split at the seams under the pressure, workflowy keeps me on track. Its simplicity gives it a versatility that is extremely hard to beat which is why it has become so ever present on my desktop.
If you have not tried workflowy before I would urge everyone to give it a go. It costs nothing to try and you will very quickly ascertain how much value it would add to your life. Check out the video below to see it in action.