Workflowy is a very useful little wonder, that allows you to do many things with very few concepts, and, best of all, it is very easy. Its original concept is the organization of ideas, similar to a mental map, but instead of a graphical tool lines and balloons, use the system well-known hierarchy, organizing the notes by groups, levels or indentations, depending on the depth of each concept from the more generic (first level) to the most detailed (last level).

Navigating through each level is very simple and intuitive, because Workflowy focuses from the level we want toward down, abstracting entirely from the rest. At the top shows, in a single line, the path toward the previous levels.

We can use Workflowy in order to implement our personal organization based on GTD, in a basic and easy way, without great ambitions.

 

GTD Organizatin using Workflowy

You can implement a GTD organization using Workflowy, defining, in the first level, the Inbox and the lists.

  • Inbox
  • Someday
  • To be consulted
  • Waiting
  • Next
  • Today
  • Scheduled
  • Projects
  • Completed

If a list needs a new node that groups more elements, such as ideas or actions (as in the case of projects), you must define this new node at the second level.

 

The power of labels

Workflowy allows you to add labels to the texto of the node, which facilitates you the search using the labels as criteria, such as the context, the priority, the urgency, etc. A label is an identification text, preceded by numeral character (#). When you use a label, this one is attenuated in gray and has the hiperlink feature to the search. When the mouse pointer is moved over a label, the mouse icon is converted to a hand with a stiff finger, inviting you to do clic over the label. When you clic over the label, the label text is introduced automatically as a literal in the search, the search is launched, filtering the notes that contains the label.

You can use any label that you consider convenient, depending of the use you want to do. Here you have a list of recommended labels in order to use with GTD:

  • Context:
    • #office
    • #home
    • #computer
    • #phone
    • #email
    • #errand
  • Urgency:
    • #very_urgent
    • #urgent
  • Importance:
    • #imp_high
    • #imp_medium
    • #imp_low
  • Priority:
    • #P1
    • #P2
    • #P3
  • Estimated time:
    • #3d (3 days)
    • #2h (2 hours)
    • #30m (30 minutes)
  • Effort/Concentration:
    • #physical_high (high physical effort)
    • #physical_medium
    • #physical_low
    • #mental_high (high mental effort (concentration))
    • #mental_medium
    • #mental_low
  • Other possible labels:
    • #idea
    • #to_consult
    • #today
    • #tomorrow

Compilation

You will compile things exclusively in the inbox. To do this, you must zoom in on the “Inbox” node, in order to add things as they arise.

To zoom in the node, move the mouse pointer over the bullet (small circle at the left of the node). It will appear a popup menu. Ignore it, and clic over the bullet. Other way to zoom in the node is place the cursor over the node using the cursor keys, and then, press the Alt + right cursor keys.

In the compilation phase, it is not usually to label the notes, because the compilation consists on capture ideas, errands, things in general in order to attend them more later. The capture is done in the most quick possible way, in order to this task does not interfere on those that we are doing now. Sometimes, I capture a quick label that not waste more than a couple of seconds, in order to indicate an idea or the context in which the note is applied. Later, in the revision phase, I will analyze in more detail and precision what will be the labels to be added to the note.

Note: If you want to zoom out a node, you can navigate to previous levels using the navigation path at the top of screen, or you can place the cursor over the node using the cursor keys, and then, press the Alt + left cursor keys.

 

Processing

Processing consists on to process all the notes compiled in the inbox, and move them to the corresponding list.

You can move a full node to other place in the document, through two ways:

1) Move the mouse pointer over the corresponding node. The node will be highlighted and, at the right, it will appear a cross made with arrows. Move the mouse pointer over this cross, clic on this, drag the node to the new location, and drop it.

2) Place the cursor over the node using the cursor keys. Press Alt + Shift + cursor keys in order to move the node to the corresponding location.

Processing will be finished when the “Inbox” node is empty, and all the compiled notes located in the corresponding list.

 

Revision

In the revision phase you verify all the elements contained in the different lists, in order to adjusts their properties (contexts, estimations, priorities, dates, etc.), to the current and real needs. This elements update involves an adjustment of properties/labels and the movement of elements from one list to another list, as they arise.

If you revise an action, and you know the date in which you must execute this one, you must write this date at the begining of the note, and move the note to the “Scheduled” node.

If you revise the “Scheduled” list, and you identify an action that must be executed today or tomorrow, you must move the note to the corresponding node (“Today” or “Tomorrow”).

If the action requires more information, you can add a subnote with the extended information. To do this, place the cursor on the note and press Shift + Enter keys.

If an action was executed, you can eliminate it using the popup menu of the bullet, using the “Delete” option. Also, you can mark the action as completed, using the option “Complete” of the popup menu of the bullet. The marked action won’t be visible. You can see or hide the actions marked as completed, using the option “Completed: Visible” and “Completed: Hidden”, at the top right of the screen. When you set this option to visible, you will see the actions in the original location in the hierachy tree, but they will be showed as cross out. Particularly, I prefer to eliminate the task definitively, or move the task to the “Completed” list, but without marking this one as completed, in order to preserve this one for a certain time and to have the possibility of consult this in a future.

The goal of the revision is to reorganize and update the information of our inventory of tasks, to prepare the next actions to execute and to clean the inventory, preserving the real useful information and desestimating the useless and obsolete information.

 

Conclusions

Workflowy is a very easy, useful and powerful tool. Is an excellent organizator of ideas. Its use as a GTD tool, is minimalist, efficient and versatile, and works well reaching its purpose.

Pro

  • Easy and userfriendly
  • Web application, in the cloud. You can execute Workflowy in any platform.
  • Used by mouse and keyboard
  • Undo/Repeat multiple
  • Easy ans powerful searcher
  • Autocomplete lables
  • Possibility of share complete nodes via email
  • You can export complete nodes in plain text or formatted text formats (copying to clipboard)
  • You can duplicate complete nodes
  • Video Tutorials
  • Daily mail with the changes and current status of your notes

Contra

  • Only in English language
  • Only one subnote by note/node
  • No App for mobile devices. You must use the web browser in your smartphone or tablet
  • Free version is too limited
  • One theme
  • Two fonts: Serif and San Serif
  • Up to 500 items per month
  • GTD is adapted and supported by the user. Workflowy is merely a tool for organization of information, and the user adjusts the concepts of GTD to the use of the tool.
  • There are not a calendar. You must create and manage a calendar manually, or use other calendar application
  • The items are merely plain texts. No rich text and attached files (like images, sounds, office files…) are supported

Enlaces

Website | Workflowy Website

 

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