And in that regard, I’m always on the lookout for new tools that help with this.
Now, I don’t like new tools for the sake of getting new tools. And I’m pretty hesitant to add yet another app to my phone or computer, just because it promises greater productivity.
But sometimes I’m hit with something that’s so remarkably in-tune with what I know works for me, that I’m willing to pretty much drop everything to give it a try.
The other day, I got a link to a set of notes that was “recommended reading.” The notes were interesting in themselves, but not the topic of this essay.
What was interesting, to me, was where the notes were hosted. It was a site called WorkFlowy.
The notes looked like an outline. But they weren’t a lame Microsoft Word bullet-points outline. In fact, they actually acted a lot more like a mind map.
In particular, you could “collapse” different parts of the outline under the parent points. So, for example, you may have a bulleted list of five things. And under each of those is another five things. And under each of those, another five. All-in, that’s 125 separate bullet points in the outline. But with WorkFlowy, you can collapse down the outline so you just see the five top-level points… And then expand out only what you want to see right now. (This is one of the most appealing things about mind maps to me — how much information can be contained in an easily-accessible nested fashion.)
Also, it does one better than mind mapping. You can click on any bullet point, and suddenly you’re taken to a page that shows everything underneath that bullet. Also, at the top are “breadcrumbs” for every parent level above it, to make it easy to navigate out when you want.
And you can go deep with this. I don’t know how many layers deep you can go, but I already have outlines that are 6 layers deep, and it’s all displayed in a very intuitive way.
(At least, this is intuitive to how my brain works!)
I’m going to link you to a 2-minute, 27-second video in a moment, so you can see what I’m talking about, but I want to tell you more about why I already love WorkFlowy so much…
For me, I already see how WorkFlowy may replace Asana for my personal tasks, as well as FreeMind for a lot of my note-taking and brainstorming.
One of the things I’ve struggled with in Asana is speed. The keyboard shortcuts aren’t intuitive. Creating layers of subtasks or notes for tasks is clunky. There are advantages WorkFlowy doesn’t replace (like due dates and email notifications) but I haven’t been as reliant on them as other Asana users might be.
If your main reason for using any kind of project management tool is to keep a to-do list, WorkFlowy is one of the most robust while simultaneously user-friendly to-do lists you can find today.
I’m still working out my exact task management methodology in WorkFlowy, but I was able to spend less than an hour moving all my active and potential projects from Asana into WorkFlowy, while adding and updating subtasks.
For dates, I created a “tickler” file, of sorts. The old-fashioned way to do a tickler file was to have a set of folders for each month, and for each day within the month. When you had something you needed to think about on a certain day, you’d put a note in the right day’s folder. Every day, you simply look in that day’s folder and find whatever relevant notes you need. I’ve used a similar structure for Breakthrough Marketing Secrets issues in Scrivener. I create folders for years and months, and each day’s essay is date-labeled. That way I can easily find any day’s past issue within a couple clicks. WorkFlowy lets me do the same thing looking forward, in a collapsible outline form.
There are also advance features like #tagging (with search) that you can use in WorkFlowy to manage tasks inside a bigger list.
The same shortcuts I rely on for mind mapping work perfectly in WorkFlowy. Type-type-type, enter — I just wrote a bullet, then created another one at the same level. Hit tab, and it moves the bullet one level deeper. Shift-tab, and it moves it up a level. (This is pretty much the same as Word outlines, too — but WorkFlowy is Word outlining on steroids.)
There are additional keyboard shortcuts I may or may not learn in WorkFlowy, as I get going. (I’m pretty sure if you get good at shortcuts you don’t have to touch your mouse.) But with the above, I’m able to spill thoughts out of my brain at a rapid-fire rate.
When I sit down to create something big — a client promotion, a new course, a book, a free report, a webinar, whatever — this is my first and most important step of the process. WorkFlowy does this in an incredibly natural and effective way, at least within my style of doing it.
(And they have many, many prominent users who agree! Ev Williams, founder of Medium, Twitter, and Blogger. Farhad Manjoo, NYT tech columnist. The founders of Slack. The CEO of Atlassian, the company behind JIRA agile project management software. The book Hatching Twitter, by Nick Bilton, was written starting in WorkFlowy. And, as they say, “WorkFlowy uses WorkFlowy to build WorkFlowy!”)
Plus, WorkFlowy adds notes, links, and more in a way that goes above and beyond what I’ve been able to intuitively incorporate in mind mapping.
My first reaction: I can’t recommend WorkFlowy enough!
I’ve long wished for a project management tool that acted more like a mind map — and WorkFlowy is it. I actually see myself ditching Asana for 95% of my task management. I still see Asana as great for tracking bigger projects and managing a team. But when it comes to my day-to-day, Asana has been a little too clunky in trying to manage my daily to-dos. And since using it causes more resistance than it eliminates, I haven’t been as consistent in using it as maybe I’d prefer to be.
Also, WorkFlowy has a desktop app (installed via the Chrome browser, but that makes all the features and lists available offline) plus apps for both Android and iOS. Other mind map applications have this, but FreeMind that I’ve always used doesn’t. Which suddenly makes WorkFlowy more interesting to me, because it’s available everywhere and synced.
Even better, you can try WorkFlowy (and figure out how it is useful to you) at absolutely zero cost!
We both benefit if you simply TRY WorkFlowy at my recommendation…
WorkFlowy works on a freemium model. That is, there’s an almost-fully functional version you can use for free, indefinitely.
All you have to do is enter your email address and a password, and you’ve created your first WorkFlowy list.
There is a monthly limit on it though. You can only create 250 items per month with the free version (I’ve created 192 so far today — but I’m probably a power user).
If you sign up with a referral link though (like this one or the ones above), both you and the person who referred you (me) get an extra 250 items per month, for the life of your subscription. So, if you sign up through my link, your monthly limit gets boosted to 500, and mine by another 250. I don’t make a penny, but the service gets better for me, and you get to try it to see how it works for you.
And if you really love it, you can do what I’ll probably end up doing within the next 24 hours, which is upgrade your subscription to Pro for $49 per year or $4.99 per month, and be able to add unlimited items to your lists, create multiple list documents, and more.
If you’re curious, here’s the video you can watch that will show you just how quick and easy it is to do all sorts of things from goal-setting to brainstorming and note-taking to planning and project management with WorkFlowy.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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