A Workflowy Review

Everything can be a list.

From our daily groceries shopping to writing a new chapter on your latest novel, everyone and everything can benefit from having a list.
But the problem with most note-taking software and app is this – they often have redundant features that most of us don’t need, don’t want, or hardly use them. Most of these force you into a structure-like interface. The rationale of taking note is of course to take the task out of our mind, so we can focus on other things. Organizing can come later.

Most apps however, forces you to define the task, organize them, and tuck them nicely into a particular place. Maybe that’s the reason why people don’t stick to note taking app for long, it’s too rigid.

I have used several such apps in the past, in hope that i will be more productive and efficient. But none has stuck with me for the long haul. It’s either too complicated or cumbersome to maintain, and eventually i stopped using them altogether.

Then comes the change

workflowly 2

But all these thoughts change when i chanced upon workflowy some time back. It’s like a giant white depository to store all your thoughts, ideas, words. Anything. It’s so simple in concept, but so many other apps fail to execute properly. It’s clean, its typeface is easy on the eyes, and it’s extremely user-friendly. Register, sign-in, and start right away. Before you know it, your lists will be growing bigger and bigger. Of course, you can always delete or cross out completed items.

The beauty of this app is of course you will always turn to it when you have something to note down. Many apps failed to take off in this area – users download them, but eventually they will turn to other alternatives for their note taking. This is where workflowy execute it brilliantly and getting users to use their app for all their needs.

The app is available on the PC, iOS and Android. Make a list and it auto-saves your progress and synchronize automatically to the rest of your devices. The heavy footwork is being done in the background, so you can just focus on taking note. Right now, you need a net connection for it to work but the paid version promises to allow offline access in the future.

An app for everything

Fire up workflowy and you will be confronted by this giant white space. It can be daunting, nothing but white area enveloping your sight. But this is what makes it so powerful. You are deprived of all other distractions. No unnecessary due date crap, no title to fill in. Just you and your words. This is also what makes it so flexible. It doesn’t impose any restrictions on your list, so you are free to write and create list in any way you like. It’s a list in a list within a list. Take for example, you are writing on a new book. The main list is your book title, follow by the chapter’s name. Sub-list in your chapter’s name is your ideas, character’s development. All these can be further subdivided and move around as you go along.

In essence, workflowy is like a giant list, and you can create sub-list under it. Within this sub-list, you can have nested list and so on. You can further zoom into one of this list by clicking on the bullet point, after which you will be taken to a new page. Sublime.

What you can see from this app is a bird’s eye view of all the tasks you have written. You can organize them, prioritize them and execute them. You can zoom in to a particular task and add notes to the entry. It’s extremely functional, it’s very fluid and it’s great when you want to have an overview with regards to a particular task. Browse through them and you have an idea, and from there you know what’s missing.

Nothing is too small for a list. Your observations from watching the cartoon show with your kids could be the platform for future blog post. The contact number you have just gotten from your neighbor. Everything is part of a bigger thing. Every list is part of a bigger list. The possibilities are endless, i bet even with the same content, no 2 workflowy looks the same. You can tweak, organize them.

Some apps are targeted at specific audience. Some are better at project management tracking, some are good at reminding you to complete a particular task at a specific timing and date. All this have their places, but workflowy is like the jack of all trades. And this jack does everything competently. It can be as simple as you want it to be, or it can be a never ending tunnel. Everyone and anyone can benefit from it. You can easily master it, because the fact is, you just open the app up and input things.

Hash-tag and Sharing

Some of the neat features included are hash-tag #. It can be your GTD. Label them such as #Today, #Work, #Personal or #Important. Make a list that should be completed today and cross them off as you complete them. Nothing more satisfying than crossing tasks off your working list and knowing that there’s one less task to worry about. Sharing capability: You can share the list with the ones that you want. Say you are planning a picnic with your friends. Send them the list of items to bring on the day. You can choose to allow them to edit the list, or for just pure viewing. If you are ambitious enough, the cross platform sharing is ideal for virtual team collaborations too.

The normal version allows you to create up to 500 list per month. You can gain more space by having referrals or upgrading to their Pro version. Each referral gets you additional 250 items monthly. I’d rate myself as a moderate to heavy user and I create list for just about anything. With 750 items to play with monthly (thanks to a referral), I have yet to hit the limit.

Seriously, I have nothing but praise for workflowy. It’s understated, but words and already getting around. If you are already a workflowier, hello there. If you are sitting on the fence, get your feet down and try it out.

You might just be a advocate, like me.


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