A web app to manage your tasks

March 3, 2014 | Last updated on March 3, 2014
3 min read

If you’re a typical professional, you’re busy with a seemingly endless schedule of meetings, and most of those meetings generate a slew of new tasks. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have staff working for you, that doesn’t always mean things get done more quickly, accurately or even efficiently.

That’s why I was so pleased to discover the web-based app Workflowy (also available for iOS). It’s a seemingly simple list maker that’s feature-rich, shareable, searchable, archivable and taggable.

The basics

To use Workflowy, all you have to do is open a page and start typing your list. Each to-do task appears as a bullet.

Each bullet you type can also have a sub-bullet and each of those can also have unlimited sub-bullets, and so on. Further, all sub-bullets can be collapsed or expanded as needed, letting you toggle between a broad overview and a detailed list.

We’ll call each bullet a project and each sub-bullet an action.

Here are other features I love:

  • Each project or action can have unlimited notes attached
  • You can tag any item with specific, sortable @ or # symbols (you’ll see why you want to do that later)
  • Workflowy includes a fast, detailed search engine
  • Items can be marked Completed
  • You can choose to share any projects or actions by emailing a link. Once shared, other users can update them
  • Lists can be exported as text documents

Taken together, the service creates a robust, elegant task manager to run your day, and to organize and communicate with staff.

How I use it

After each meeting, I draft a list of everything that must happen after the meeting. Then, I add thoughts or details around each project or action, tag the actions to show who will execute them, and then prioritize the actions.

Here’s how. I tag all actions I must do personally with @K. Then, I tag actions I must do first with @KP (which stands for Kevin Priority). Staff actions are tagged the same way with either an @S or an @SP, for example. The @ symbol can be searched for or clicked on each morning to generate a list of tasks that need to be done first.

Once an action is complete, the person executing the task types a response as a sub-action, and includes a # tag with his or her initial (for example #K, #B or #S). This allows us to quickly search through the dozens of line items to find the newest responses.

As a project is completed, any new information or strategy changes are incorporated in the ever-expanding list. Text can be copied from emails, documents and websites and dropped into a Note under each action. Once the whole project is completed, we export the list and archive it in our client database.


Each morning, I search for the @KP tag. As I work through each item I mark it as complete and then remove the @KP tag so it doesn’t come up the next time I search for priorities.

If I have a question for staff about a priority, I open up a sub-action, type in the question, and assign it to one of the staff using the @ symbol. This saves me from stopping what I am doing to find or email the staff member. He or she responds with the information, removes the @ tag, completes the action and signs the response with #Initial.

Workflowy is free, but it’s also worth upgrading for $50 per year, which gives you extra privacy and unlimited notes.