Workflowy is one of those apps that I tried years ago, but I never quite connected with it. At the time, I just couldn’t get my brain around how I might use it. In some ways, I still feel the same way, but I am learning a lot more about what it is capable of and I am really glad that I came back to it because it has become one of my favorite new tools for planning and note-taking. In this post, I am going to give you a rundown of what Workflowy is and how I’m using it to stay productive.
What is Workflowy?
Workflowy is a notetaking app that is available on the web, or as an app for your desktop or mobile device. However, it’s a little different from traditional notetaking apps like OneNote, Evernote, or Google Keep. Workflowy is an outlining app. It lets you nest bullet points endlessly inside of other bullet points so that you can organize and keep track of all your favorite lists. You can see the Workflowy list I used to plan this very blog post below!
How is Workflowy Organized?
Understanding how Workflowy is structured is key to getting the most out of this app. At the top level, there are nodes, which are a bit like folders or topics. Inside of each node, you have your bulleted lists. Each bullet point can have its own sub-bullets, and those sub-bullets can have their own sub-bullets so that you keep adding bullet points until you have created the type of list you are looking to make.
Here’s another way to think about it. Someone once explained Workflowy to me in the context of Reddit. Reddit.com is organized into subreddits, (r/cooking, r/Apple, r/politics, etc). People post questions or threads in those subreddits, and people reply to that post, and to the replies of others.
In the world of Workflowy, the subreddits would be your nodes. A reply to a post would be a top-level bullet point. A reply to someone else’s reply would be a sub-bullet. Sometimes conversations get multiple replies, so those would be your multiple child levels of sub-bullets. The video below shows how that looks in practice, along with how each bullet point can be its own document.
Hashtags can be used to help tag your notes. You can add them to any bullet point that you create and if you’ve ever used an app like Google Keep, you will know that tags are a great way to help filter through your notes and quickly find the projects that you are working on. Stars can also be used to bookmark or favorite lists for quick access in the sidebar.
What Can You Use Workflowy For?
I use Workflowy to plan out the structure of blog posts and articles. It is also great for planning an outline for professional development, project planning, and even conference notes. Workflowy suggests using it for meeting notes, task lists, bullet journals, or grocery lists. At school, students could use it for outlining essays, planning PBL projects, keeping track of assignments, or goal tracking. In short, Workflowy is what you make it.
Is Workflowy Free?
Yes and no. The free account gives you access to all the features that Workflowy has to offer. You get some basic sharing options, a 100Mb file upload cap, and a monthly limit of 250 bullet points. What happens when you hit your bullet limit? You can still add bullets, but you will be greeted by a pop-up that encourages you to sign up for a paid account. For a free account, I think that is very generous.
Of course, you can remove these restrictions by paying $4.99 a month (or $49 a year) for the Pro account. New users automatically get a 7-day trial of the Pro account when they sign up, but no credit card is required. Premium customer support is included with the Pro account, as is the ability to backup to Dropbox.
How Do I Sign Up?
You can create a new account at workflowy.com. However, if you use this referral link, we will both get an extra 100 bullet points added to our accounts, no strings attached. It’s perhaps not for everyone, but I truly believe that Workflowy is one of those tools that once you get your brain accustomed to how it works and what you would use it for, you will quickly wonder how you managed without it. Give it a try!