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Organize your brain with Workflowy

A reader suggested I try this new tool, and it proved to be more than worthy

Posted January 5, 2012 by Shawn "Doc Rock" Boyd

Workflowy is quite possibly the best list-organizing tool ever made. The interface is svelte and super speedy, mostly due to its lack of complex design, trendy thingamajigs and unnecessary options.

Workflowy is like a blank sheet of paper that’s meant to house your entire brain. I’ve written about task managers and note takers numerous times and talked about them in my podcast even more. I’ve also tried nearly everything that’s come out and spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and hours attempting to find the sweet-spot between organizing thoughts and actually getting more productive.

I’ve been a huge fan of GTD (Getting Things Done) with apps like Things, OmniFocus, The Hit List, Evernote, and my current favorite Taskpaper.

While they all have some captivating and unique bells and whistles, they eventually lose out to good, old-fashioned lists on paper or index cards. Up until a few days ago, I would’ve recommended Taskpaper as my personal favorite. Then a Nonstop Honolulu reader, @theRemix, commented on my post about “Five geeky ways to be more productive,” suggesting @WorkFlowy, and off I went eagerly to take a look.

Much to my amazement, I found a tool that was so much like my beloved Taskpaper, yet more like straight up pad and pen. Workflowy has the unique ability to have a insanely large list, as if you were working with one large sheet of paper, and the search and tagging capabilities make finding things super fast.

Workflowy allows sharing, collaborating and exporting your list as plain text or formatted text. The best feature is it’s free and totally platform agnostic because it’s a web app.

So the next time you’re in need of a new tool to gain control over your list, tasks or brain dumps, consider Workflowy and let me know what you think.

Please feel free to share any of your favorite apps or tech thingamajigs in the comments, you may teach us something for a change like @theRemix.


  1. Jerome Koehler
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Wow, Workflowy “flows” very well. I have been using Omnifocus and I have a tough time letting go of that application. Workflowy is pushing me in that direction though since it works on all devices versus being tied down to iOS and OSX.

  2. Posted January 5, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    @Jerome Koehler for me the key is the speed of seeing you data on all your devices. No syncing needed. And Workflowy has the learning curve of a laser lever. Simple as pie. OF is a killer application but most techies don’t even know how to use it well let alone normal people. The last best feature is it will save you 3 cases of beer over OmniFocus,

  3. Jerome Koehler
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    @docrock Very true. The learning curve for Omnifocus can be compared to climbing up Mount Everest. Even the tutorials once you start working with workflowy assist with getting a new user started without any pain.

  4. Jerome Koehler
    Posted January 6, 2012 at 8:27 am

    @docrock I had one more thing to mention: It looks like they are working for applications that will allow offline access. This is awesome for those times when you cannot access some sort of data connection!

  5. tysonoshiro
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Thanks doc! Was looking for a good notes organizer…this looks promising.

  6. Posted January 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    @tysonoshiro I’ve been using the hell out of this lately and I can stop loving it. Glad you found it useful.

  7. ColemanFoley
    Posted February 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I’m a longtime Workflowy user and I just want to say this is one of the best write-ups I’ve seen on it.

About Shawn "Doc Rock" Boyd

Raised on the East Coast, Doc came to Hawaii soon after graduating high school. Doc has been involved in technology since getting his first set of tools as a Christmas present at age 5. Since climbing out from behind the Genius Bar at Apple you now will most likely find Doc waxing rhapsodically on the virtues of saké, good food, soccer, super-cars and camera gear.

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