How To Add To-Do Lists In WordPress

Learn how to easily create a to-do list in WordPress.

Creating A To Do List In WordPress

WordPress Tutorials - How To Create A To-Do List In WordPressWhen you are running a growing business or managing a team, time is always in short supply.

There is just so much to do and remember. You have deadlines to meet, projects to complete, priorities to attend to, fires to put out, appointments to make, commitments to keep and so on. The “doing” never seems to end.

Now … add the extra workload of trying to promote and grow your business online and keeping your website updated with new content and things can start becoming unmanageable and out of control.

Whether you are running a business, website, blog, or managing a project, it’s important to be able to organize and manage your daily tasks.

A simple “tried and true” method that can help you save time, reduce stress, and allow you to regain control is to use “to-do” lists.

The Benefits Of Using To Do Lists

A “to-do” list helps you measure your progress when trying to complete projects. Your to-do list can be quite detailed or specific, or just serve as a reminder of tasks that need doing over a given period of time.

Here are just some of the many benefits of using to-do lists:

Free The Brain

Writing to do lists means that you won’t have to keep remembering things or store information inside your brain. Once things are written down on a to do list, your brain is free to process other information and you can focus on things that are more important to you.

Prioritize Your Time

Prioritizing tasks on your list helps you save time and better manage your workload. You can gain a clearer perspective on what is truly important vs what’s not, and what steps should be done first.

Document Your Work

A to do list allows you to retain documented logs of what work has been done. You can use this as evidence of work done to clients or employers, or just as a way of helping you measure your own productivity and efficiency.


Without accountability there’s no commitment to completion, and no motivation to act with a sense of purpose. Lack of accountability allows excuses to creep in and take over your productivity.

Feeling Of Accomplishment

Ticking items off to do lists gives you a sense of accomplishment and allows you to stress less, as you can objectively see (or show) that the work is being completed and that progress is being made.

As you can see, there are many benefits to using to-do lists, both in business and in your personal life. Creating to do lists, prioritizing tasks and working in a focused manner improves productivity and efficiency in your business.

Let’s turn now to using to do lists on your website. More specifically, adding a to do list to WordPress.

In this detailed step-by-step tutorial we are going to show you how to easily add to do lists to a WordPress website or blog to help your team get things done  faster and more efficiently using a customizable, multi-featured to do list plugin called Cleverness To-Do List.

Cleverness To Do List

Cleverness to do list

Plugin URL

Plugin Description

This WordPress plugin provides users with a to do list feature.


Note: the plugin features described below will be discussed in more detail in the tutorial section.

You can set up the plugin to assign private to-do lists for individual users, to have all users share the same to do list, or to have a master list with individual completion of items.

The shared to-do list has a variety of settings available. You can assign to do items to a specific user (this includes emailing new to-do items to assigned users) and optionally to have those items be viewable by that user. You can also assign different permission levels using capabilities. There are also settings available to show deadline and progress fields. Category support is included as well in the front-end administration.

A new menu item is added to the admin backend to help you manage your list and your to-do list is also displayed on the dashboard widget.

A sidebar widget is also available as short code to display the to do list items on your blog. There are two shortcodes for front-end administration of your list. Category management is accessed through the back-end admin section.

If you plan to run a multi-author site you can use the plugin to create custom to do lists for your post editors if you also install the Post Planner plugin.

Installing The Plugin

Log into your site’s admin scroll down the menu click on Plugins > Add New …

WordPress Plugin Install

In the Install Plugins section, type in “cleverness” into the search field and click the Enter button …

Cleverness plugin WP to-do lists - to-do lists Cleverness - Install To-Do List Plugin

Locate the Cleverness To-Do List plugin in the Search Results section and click Install Now

Cleverness plugin to-do list - Cleverness plugin WordPress - Install Cleverness To-Do List Plugin

Click Activate Plugin

Cleverness plugin WordPress - to-do lists plugin - Activate To Do List Plugin

Note: You can also activate this plugin in the Plugins section …

Cleverness to-do lists plugin WP - to-do list Cleverness - Activate To-Do List

Once you have activated the plugin, click on Settings

Cleverness to do lists plugin - WP to-do lists plugin - Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Settings

Note: The settings section can also be accessed by choosing To-Do List > Settings from your admin menu …

Cleverness to-do list - To-Do List > Settings

This takes you to the plugin ‘Settings’ page …

to-do lists plugin - To Do List Settings

Let’s go through the plugin configuration process …

Setting Up The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin

The Settings area is divided into four tabs:

  • To-Do List Settings – The options in this section let you specify the plugin’s main settings.
  • Advanced Settings – Here you can customize your to-do lists, assign tasks to other users and perform database maintenance tasks.
  • User Permissions – This tab is where you can set up user permissions and capabilities for Master and Group List types.
  • Import/Export – This area is where you can import and export to-do list data and plugin settings.

Let’s now review each of these sections.

To-Do List Settings

Cleverness plugin to do list - To-Do List Settings


Select ‘Enabled’ to organize your list into categories, otherwise leave this option set to ‘Disabled’.

Note: If you enable this option, a ‘Categories’ item is added to the To-Do List menu …

WordPress to-do lists plugin - To-Do List Menu

This allows you to add categories that you can use to organize your to-do lists (see ‘Plugin Usage’ section further below for more details) …

to-do lists plugin Cleverness - To Do List Categories > Add New Category

You can create ‘public’ and ‘private’ categories for your lists.

Categories set to ‘private’ are not visible when using the sidebar widgets or shortcodes (only when ‘Sort Order’ is set to ‘Category’)

List View

List View lets you specify how lists will be viewed. You can choose three types of list views:

  • Individual – Choose this option if you want each user to create and manage their own private to-do list.
  • Group – Select this option if you want all users to be able to share the same to-do list.
  • Master – This option allows you to create one master list for all users, where users have their own individual completion of items. If you select the ‘Master’ list view, make sure that you configure the User Permissions appropriately in the ‘User Permissions’ tab (this is covered further below).
Sort Order

Cleverness plugin WP - To Do List Sort Order

‘Sort Order’ lets you specify how your to-do list items will be sorted.

If you choose Alphabetical, ID or Category, ID, Category or Alphabetical options, items will be sorted first by priority.

Show Added By

Enabling this option lets you display which users on your site have added an item to your to-do list.

Note: This setting only applies when ‘List View’ is set to ‘Group’.

Show Date Completed

If this option is enabled, completion dates will display for to-do items.

Show Deadline

Enabling this option (‘Yes’) lets you specify deadlines for your to-do items …

to do list Cleverness - To Do List Settings Deadline

Show Progress

Enabling this option lets you specify task progress indicators for your to-do items …

WordPress plugin to do list - To Do List Progress

Show Admin Bar Menu

If enabled, the ‘To-Do List’ menu displays in your WordPress Dashboard Admin bar

Cleverness - To Do List Show Admin Bar Menu

Use WYSIWYG Editor

This option lets you add and edit items on your to-do list using the WordPress WYSIWYG Editor

Cleverness plugin to do lists - To-Do List WYSIYG Editor

Use Auto Paragraphs

Enable this option (‘Yes’) to display content in to-do list items using paragraphs.

Integrate with Post Planner

If you are running a collaborative site or blog, you can integrate the Cleverness To Do List plugin with a plugin called WordPress Post Planner, from the same plugin developer that helps to make the process of managing a multi-author WordPress site easier …

WordPress Post Planner - Multi-Author Publishing Plugin For WordPress

Go here to learn more this plugin: WordPress Post Planner – WordPress Editorial Solution Plugin

Once you are done configuring your plugin options, click the ‘Save Changes’ button …

WordPress button - save changes

Advanced Settings

After configuring the settings in the To-Do List Settings tab, click on the ‘Advanced Settings’ tab …

Cleverness to do lists plugin WP - Advanced Settings

This brings up the ‘Advanced Settings’ area …

plugin to do lists - To-Do List Advanced Settings

This area lets you customize your To-Do lists, assign to-do items to users and carry out database maintenance.

Let’s step through how to configure the plugin’s ‘Advanced Settings’ section …

To-Do List Advanced Settings > Customize The To-Do List

This section of the ‘Advanced Settings’ screen allows you to customize your To-Do List …

Cleverness plugin WP to do lists - Advanced Settings Tab - Customize To Do List Settings

You can configure the following options in this section:

Date Format

Here you can specify how to display dates in your todo lists (e.g. month/day/year, day/month/year, etc.)

Note: To learn more about how to format dates in WordPress, refer to the relevant section of the WordPress Codex below:

WordPress Codex – Formatting Date And Time

Priority Labels

Here you can customize labels for highest, normal and low priority items …

plugin to do lists - Priority section

Items prioritized as “important” are color-coded in red and lowest priority items display in a lighter shade of grey …

Cleverness to do list plugin WP - sort by priority

Show To-Do Item ID

Enabling this option shows the items’ IDs on the to-do list …

Cleverness to do list plugin WP - Item ID

Show Date To-Do Was Added

If enabled (‘Yes’), the date the to-do list was added appears on the To-Do Items table …

to-do list Cleverness - sort by date added

To-Do List Advanced Settings > Assign To-Do Items Settings

If you have chosen ‘Group’ or ‘Master’ View for your to-do list, you can configure the options in this section and assign to-do items to other users …

Cleverness plugin WordPress - To Do List Advanced Settings > Assign To Do Items Settings

You can configure the following options in this area:

Assign To-Do Items to Users

If this option is enabled (‘Yes’), you can assign tasks to other users …

to do lists plugin - Assign To Do Items to Users

Note: This set this option to ‘Yes’ for the settings below it to work.

Show a User Only the To-Do Items Assigned to Them

Enable this option (‘Yes’) to display items only to users who have been assigned those items. Leave this option disabled (‘No’) to display to-do items to all users.

User Roles to Show

Check the boxes in this area (Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, Subscriber) to display the type of users that can be assigned items. Leave the check box unticked for any roles that you don’t want to assign to-do items.

Email Assigned To-Do Items to User

When you enable this option, WordPress automatically sends users an email with their assigned to-do items …

Cleverness plugin WP - Assigned To Do Items Email

Leave this option disabled if you don’t want emails sent out to users.

Note: If you disable this option, you can skip the remaining items in this section.

Add Category to Subject

If you have enabled categories in your plugin settings and select ‘Yes’ for this option, the to-do category will display on the subject of your emails …

Cleverness plugin WP to-do list - Add Category to Email Subject

Leave this option disabled (‘No’) if you don’t want to display categories in the email subject.

If you don’t want to show to-do categories in the email subject, then leave this option disabled (‘No’).

Show Who Assigned the To-Do Item in Email

Enabling this option (‘Yes’) lets you display the user who assigned the to-do item in the email. This is a useful option if your site has multiple project managers assigning to-do items to users …

Cleverness plugin - To Do Item Email From Field

From Field for Emails Sent to User

This field allows you to customize the “From” field when sending out emails. You can enter your company name, your domain, your name, or anything you like in this field …

Cleverness to-do list plugin WordPress - Show Who Assigned the To-Do Item in Email

From Email

Enter the email address that you want showing as the “sent from” email address …

WP to do lists plugin - To-Do Item Email From Field

Subject Field for Emails Sent to User

Type into this field a subject field for the email that will be automatically distributed to users whenever new items have been added to your to-do list …

Cleverness plugin WordPress - Subject Field for Emails Sent to User

Text in Emails Sent to User

Type into this field the body of the email message that will be sent out automatically to users when a new item has been assigned to your to-do list.

Cleverness to-do lists plugin WP - Show Who Assigned the To-Do Item in Email

To-Do List Advanced Settings > Database Cleanup

This section lets you perform database maintenance tasks related to plugin data directly from your plugin settings area without the need to log into your server …

Cleverness to do list plugin - To-Do List Advanced Settings > Clean up Database

This is useful if, for example, you notice that previously deleted todo items are still listed on your site.

The following tasks can be performed in this section:

  • Delete Tables – Remove any custom database tables that you no longer use.
  • Delete All To-Do Items – Remove all of your to-do items.

Important Info

Any actions that you perform on your database from this screen cannot be reversed. If you are comfortable to proceed with any of the database operations available in this section, then we recommend backing up your WordPress database first.

If you don’t want to perform site backups, then get professional support services, or use a WordPress backup plugin. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can fully automate your backup process here:

User Permissions

This section lets you configure user permissions and capabilities for Group and Master List types …

Cleverness plugin - User Permissions


If you are using the Individual List type, the only configurable item that is applicable for this section is the View To-Do List permission …

Cleverness plugin to-do list WordPress - User Permissions Tab - View To Do-List drop-down menu

If you are configuring user permissions and capabilities for Group and Master List types, select the highest level capabilities that you would like users to be able to perform for each option …

WordPress to do list plugin - User Permissions - View To Do-List drop-down menu

By default, general capabilities for each user role are set up as follows:

  • Subscribers: Read
  • Contributors: Edit Posts
  • Authors: Publish Posts
  • Editors: Edit Others Posts
  • Administrators: Manage Options

Note: When using the Master list type make sure that you only allow non-administrators to view and complete items, otherwise they will have the ability to edit the Master list.

Cleverness to do lists plugin - User Permissions

Let’s go through the settings in this tab:

View To-Do List

Here you can allow the chosen capability to view items in the dashboard widget and on the To-Do List page under the ‘Tools’ section.

Complete To-Do Item Capability

Here you can enable the selected capability to mark items as completed or uncompleted.

Add To-Do Item Capability

Here you can permit the selected capability to add new items.

Edit To-Do Item Capability

Here you can enable the chosen capability to modify existing to-do items.

Assign To-Do Item Capability

This setting allows the chosen capability to delegate to-do items to individual users.

View All Assigned Tasks Capability

Here you can permit the selected capability to view all tasks even if “Show Each User Only Their Assigned Tasks” is set to ‘Yes’.

Delete To-Do Item Capability

Here you can allow the selected capability to delete individual items.

Delete All To-Do Items Capability

Here you can permit the selected capability to purge all the completed items.

Add Categories Capability

Here you can permit the selected capability to add new categories.


The ability to import and export to-do list data can be very useful. For example, you may decide to copy over data from an existing list to another website, or store your data for backup or reporting purposes.

To access this function, click on the ‘Import/Export’ tab in your plugin settings area …

to do list plugin - Import/Export Settings Tab

Now you can import and export your list data and plugin settings …

to do lists plugin - Import/Export Settings Tab

Exporting To-Do List Data

You can export and download your list data settings by clicking on the ‘Download Export File’ …

to-do list Cleverness - Import/Export - Import/Export Settings - Download Export File

This opens up a window allowing you to view or save your data as plain text to an internal or external storage medium …

WP to do lists plugin - Import/Export Tab - Export Settings File

As well as exporting list data from the ‘Import/Export’ tab, you can also export data by going to your admin menu and choosing Tools > Export

WordPress Menu Export

You can include to-do list data in a WordPress export file (in XML format), either by checking ‘All content’ (includes everything – posts, pages, etc…), or selecting ‘To-Do’ from the ‘Choose what to export’ section and clicking the ‘Download Export File’ button to download your file to an internal or external hard drive…

Export WordPress Menu - To Do Data

Importing To-Do List Data

To import a list data file, click on the ‘Browse’ button next to the ‘Choose File to Import’ field …

Cleverness plugin WP - Import/Export Tab - Import/Export Settings Section - Import File

Locate the previously saved to-do list data file and click ‘Open’ …

Cleverness - Import/Export - Import/Export Settings - Import To Do File

Once your data file has been uploaded in your settings area, click the ‘Import Settings’ button …

to-do lists Cleverness - Import/Export Settings - Import/Export Settings Section - Import File

The data from the existing to-do file will be imported.

After configuring all of the plugin settings, you can start creating and editing to-do lists.

Plugin Usage

To create a new to-do list, go to your WordPress admin menu and click on To-Do List > To-Do List

Cleverness plugin WordPress to-do lists - To-Do List > To-Do List

This brings you to the ‘To-Do List’ screen …

to do lists Cleverness - To-Do List page

Add New To Do Items

There are several ways to add a new item to your to-do list.

For example, you can add new to-do items from your WP admin bar …

WP to-do lists plugin - How To Add New To-Do Items

You can also add a new item to your to-do list inside the Dashboard by clicking on the ‘Add To-Do item’ link …

Cleverness plugin to-do list WordPress - How To Add New To Do Items To Your List

You can click on the ‘Add New Item’ link in the ‘To-Do Items’ section (note: only use this option if your To-Do list already contains many items, as the link will simply send you to the “Add New To-Do Item” section at the bottom of the screen) …

WordPress to-do lists plugin - How To Add New To-Do Items To Your List

All the methods shown above will bring you to the ‘Add New To-Do Item’ area.

Depending on the way you have set up your plugin, some options may not display when when you add new to-do items.

Set up the options you have enabled for your to-do items, enter appropriate values and information into the relevant fields and click on the ‘Submit To-Do Item’ button to add the new item to your list …

Cleverness plugin WordPress to do list - How To Add New To Do Items

Note: If you have selected a list type that allows you to assign tasks to specific users, select a user from the drop-down list and assign them the item …

to do lists Cleverness - Assign To-Do Items to Users

You can also make multiple users responsible for the same item (click on ‘x’ to remove a user) …

Cleverness plugin to-do list WordPress - Assign To-Do Items to Users

After the item has been added, it will display as an entry in the ‘To-Do Items’ table …

Cleverness plugin - How To Add New To Do Items

Repeat this process to continue adding new items to your list …

Cleverness plugin to do lists WP - Adding New Items To Your List

Editing And Deleting Items

To edit or delete an item, click on the ‘Edit’ or ‘Delete’ buttons next to each item under the ‘Action’ column …

Edit And Delete To Do Items

Depending on how you have set up the plugin (discussed in the previous section), users assigned to completing tasks may also receive an email notification in their inboxes …

WP plugin to-do list - Email Assigned To Do Items to User

After creating your to do list, users can view the list inside their dashboard …

plugin to-do lists Cleverness - View To-Do List User Dashboard

When the user assigned with the item completes the task and clicks on the item checkbox …

Cleverness - Completed To Do List Items User Dashboard

… the item is removed from the “To-Do” list …

Cleverness plugin - Completed To Do List Items User Dashboard

And appears in the ‘Completed Items’ table located in the main screen of the ‘To-Do List’ plugin …

to-do list Cleverness - Completed To-Do Item

Additional Plugin Information

The Cleverness plugin offers additional functions that let you display to-do lists on your website using widgets, and add lists to content inside a post or page using short codes.

Using The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Widget

To add to-do lists to your site using widgets, go to the ‘Widgets’ page (Appearance > Widgets) and drag the ‘To-Do List’ widget to the menu location where you would like the list to appear …

plugin to-do list Cleverness - Plugin Widget

Configure the widget settings and click on the ‘Save’ button …

WP plugin to do lists - Using The Plugin Widget

The to-do list will display on your site where you have placed the ‘to-do-list’ widget (e.g. the sidebar menu, footer, etc.)

to do list plugin - Using The Plugin Widget

To learn more about using widgets in WordPress, see the tutorial below:

Using The Cleverness Plugin Short Codes

You can also create to-do lists to your site by inserting shortcodes into your content.

To access the documentation on using shortcodes, click on To-Do List > To-Do List from your dashboard menu …

Cleverness plugin - To-Do List Menu

Click on the ‘Help’ tab on the top right hand corner of your screen …

Cleverness plugin - Using The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Short Codes

Click on the ‘Shortcodes’ menu entry to access the Shortcode Documentation screen …

Using Plugin Short Codes

This section explains various ways to configure and use shortcodes to display lists on your content.

Once you know what type of information you want to add to your site, open up a new post or page and either type or paste the short code inside the content editor …

Using The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Short Codes

After publishing your post or page, you will see the list displayed where you have added the short code …

Short Codes

Visit this site to learn more about this plugin:

Congratulations! Now you know how to add a to-do list to your WordPress site.


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