In which brain barf becomes beauty: the brief story of a librarian and her account.

Things I love: lists and hierarchies. Other things I love: clean, simple design. Marry these things into a big, happy, polyamorous union and you get Workflowy.

Workflowy is a clutter-free tool for making lists and organizing your brain barf. I’ve been using Workflowy since the beginning of the year to track errands and goals and make travel and career plans. I can imagine myself using Workflowy for writing (outlining), if I ever have time to write again. Recently, I used Workflowy to outline an upcoming training workshop on curating metadata for photographs.

Lists in workflowy

When getting started, it’s helpful to view some of the short video tutorials (like this one) on Workflowy’s site to learn how to use all of the features, such as quickly expanding and collapsing lists. Some features are listed below but the biggest feature for me: simplicity. My list is big but the load time is next to nothing. The interface is clean. Minimal distractions = get more work done.


  • Click and drag to re-order items in your lists
  • Keyboard shortcuts (when logged in, click the “Help” button for more info on shortcuts) makes it easy to transfer your thoughts onto the screen quickly
  • Searching your lists is handy, especially as your lists get longer
  • Tags (#) and attributes (@) allow you to tag items with tags like #today #urgent #phonecall or with attributes like @Jen @Jes; tags and attributes become hotlinks, which when clicked, returns all other items with that tag or attribute
  • Item completion allows you to mark items as Complete, which allows Workflowy to function as a to-do list; you may toggled between Visible and Hidden, depending upon whether you want to see your completed items or not
  • Mobile interface allows you to view and edit your lists from your mobile device (phone, tablet, etc.)
  • Sharing and collaboration allows you share a list or sublist at whichever level you choose; you may ‘unshare’ a sublist at any time