How To Add To-Do Lists In WordPress

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

How To Create A To-Do List In WordPress

WordPress Tutorials - Creating To-Do Lists In WordPressIf you are running a hectic business or managing other people, time is always in short supply.

There is just so much work to do and things to remember. You have deadlines to meet, project tasks to complete, meetings to attend, fires to put out, appointments to make, schedules to keep and so on. The “doing” never seems to end.

Now … on top of all this, add the extra dimension of trying to promote and grow your business online and maintaining your website or blog updated with new content and things can start to feel unmanageable and chaotic.

Whether you run a business, website, blog, or manage a team, you need to be able to organize and manage your daily tasks.

A ”tried and true” tool that can help you save time, create a sense of order and manageability, and allow you to gain some control is to use “to do” lists.

To-Do Lists – Benefits

A “to do” list helps you keep track of your progress as you complete projects. Your to-do list can be quite detailed or specific, or serve as a concise reminder of tasks that need to be done today, tomorrow, next week, next month, etc.

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

Create Order

Having a to-do list helps you create order, keep things organized and achieve goals sooner.

Save Time

Prioritizing tasks on your list helps you manage your time better. You can gain a clearer perspective on what’s more important vs what isn’t, and what steps need to be completed first.

Keep Documented Work Logs

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


With no accountability there is no commitment to getting things completed, and no motivation to act with a sense of purpose. Lack of accountability can also let excuses creep in and take over your productivity.

Sense Of Accomplishment

Crossing items off to do lists not only makes you feel more positive, motivated and in-control, it also allows you to stress less, as you can objectively see (or show) that work is indeed getting done and that milestones are being reached.

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

What about using to do lists on your website or blog?

In this step-by-step tutorial we are going to show you how to easily add to do lists to your WordPress site to improve business efficiency and productivity using a great little WordPress plugin called Cleverness To-Do List.

Cleverness To Do List

WordPress to do list plugin

Download URL

Plugin Description

This plugin provides users with a to do list feature.

Plugin Features

Note: the features described below are discussed in more detail in the tutorial section.

You can set up the plugin with private to-do lists for individual users, to have all users share your to-do list, or to have a master list with individual item completions.

The shared to do list option offers different settings. You can delegate to-do items to specific users (this includes a setting to email a new to do item to assigned users) and optionally to have assigned items only viewable by that user. You can also assign different permission levels using capabilities. There are also settings available to enable the display of deadline and progress fields. Category support is included as well as 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 shortcode to display the to-do list items on your site. There are two short codes for front-end list administration. Management of categories is restricted to the back-end admin section.

If you plan to run a multi-author blog you can use the to do lists plugin to create custom to-do lists for your post editors if you also download the developer’s premium plugin, Post Planner.

Installing The Plugin

Log into your WP dashboard area, and choose Plugins > Add New …

WP Plugin

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

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

Locate the entry in the Search Results area and click Install Now

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

Click “Activate Plugin” …

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

Note: You can also activate the plugin from the Plugins section …

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

When you have activated the plugin, click on Settings

WordPress to do list plugin - Cleverness plugin to-do lists WP - To-Do List Settings

Note: The settings area can also be accessed by selecting To-Do List > Settings from the dashboard menu …

Cleverness - To-Do List

This brings you to the ‘Settings’ section …

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

The section below shows you how to go through the plugin configuration process …

How To Set Up The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin

The Settings area is divided into four sections:

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

Let’s now review each of these sections.

To-Do List Settings

Cleverness plugin to do list - To Do List Settings Tab

To-Do List Categories

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

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

to do lists plugin Cleverness - To Do List Menu

This allows you to add categories to your lists (see ‘Plugin Usage’ section further below for more details) …

Cleverness to-do list plugin - To-Do List Categories

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

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

List View

List View lets you choose how your lists will be viewed. There are 3 kinds of list views available:

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

Cleverness to do lists plugin - To Do List Settings Sort Order

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

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

Show Added By

If enabled, you can display which of your users has added an item to your to-do list.

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

Show Date Completed

If this option is enabled (‘Yes’), completion dates will display for to-do items.

Show Deadline

If this option is enabled (‘Yes’), you will be able to specify deadlines for your to-do tasks …

Cleverness plugin to-do list - To-Do List Settings Deadline

Show Progress

If this option is enabled (‘Yes’), you can specify task progress indicators for your to-do items …

Cleverness to do lists plugin WordPress - To Do List Progress

Show Admin Bar Menu

If this option is enabled, the ‘To-Do List’ menu will display in your WordPress Admin bar

WP to-do lists plugin - To-Do List Show Admin Bar Menu

Use WYSIWYG Editor

Enabling this option (‘Yes’) lets you add and edit items on your to-do list using the WordPress WYSIWYG Editor

Cleverness to-do list plugin - WYSIWYG editor

Use Auto Paragraphs

If this option is enabled (‘Yes’), automatic paragraphs are used to display content in to-do list items.

Integrate with Post Planner

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

WordPress Post Planner - Multi-Author Publishing Plugin For WordPress

To learn more this plugin, go here: WordPress Post Planner – WordPress Multi-Author Publishing Plugin

When you have finished configuring your plugin options in this section, remember to click the ‘Save Changes’ button to update your settings …

WordPress save changes

Advanced Settings

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

Cleverness plugin WP - To Do List Advanced Settings

This brings up the ‘Advanced Settings’ area …

to do lists Cleverness - To-Do List Advanced Settings

This section lets you customize your To Do lists, assign to-do tasks to users and perform database maintenance.

Let’s take you 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 …

to do lists Cleverness - To-Do List Advanced Settings - To-Do List Customization Settings

You can configure the following options in this section:

Date Format

In this area you can specify how to display dates on your to-do list (e.g. month/day/year, day/month/year, etc.)

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

WordPress Codex – Formatting Date And Time

Priority Labels

This section lets you customize your labels for prioritizing highest (important), middle (normal) and lowest (low) items …

WP plugin to-do list - Priority Labeling

Items given the highest priority display in red and low priority items display in a lighter shade of grey …

Cleverness to do lists - colour-coded priorities

Show To-Do Item ID

If enabled, the item’s ID show on the to-do list …

Cleverness plugin WP to-do lists - Item ID

Show Date To-Do Was Added

If enabled, the date the to-do list was added displays on the items table …

Cleverness - Date Added

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

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

WP plugin to-do list - To-Do List Advanced Settings > Assign To-Do Items Settings

The following settings can be configured in this section:

Assign To-Do Items to Users

Enable this option to assign tasks to other users …

WordPress plugin to do lists - 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

Enabling this option (‘Yes’) lets you display items only to users who have been specifically assigned those items. Leaving this option disabled will display to-do items to all users.

User Roles to Show

Check the boxes in this area Author to display the type of users that can be assigned todo items. If you don’t want to assign to-do items to a specific role, then leave its check box unticked.

Email Assigned To-Do Items to User

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

Cleverness to do list plugin WordPress - Assigned To Do Items Email

If you don’t want emails sent out to users, then leave this option disabled (‘No’).

Note: If you disable this option, you can skip the other settings 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 in the subject of emails sent to users …

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

Leave this option disabled (‘No’) if you don’t want to-do categories to show the subject of your emails.

If you don’t want to display categories in the subject of your emails, then leave this option disabled.

Show Who Assigned the To-Do Item in Email

Enabling this option lets you display the user who assigned the to-do item in the email. This option is useful if, for example, your site has several project managers assigning to-do items to users …

Cleverness - Show Who Assigned the To-Do Item in Email

From Field for Emails Sent to User

This field allows you to customize the “From” field when sending out emails to users. Enter the name of your company, your domain, your name, or anything you like into this field …

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

From Email

Type into this field the email address that you would like showing as the “sent from” email address …

Cleverness - To-Do Item Email From Field

Subject Field for Emails Sent to User

Type in a subject field for the email that will be sent automatically to users when new items have been added to your to-do list …

Cleverness to-do lists plugin - Subject Field for Emails Sent to User

Text in Emails Sent to User

Add 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 plugin WP to-do lists - Text in Emails Sent to User

To-Do List Advanced Settings > Database Cleanup

In this area of the ‘Advanced Settings’ tab you can perform database maintenance operations associated with plugin data inside your plugin settings area without the need to access your web server …

Cleverness - To Do List Advanced Settings > Clean up Database

This is useful if, for example, you see that todo items you have already deleted are still listed on your site.

You can perform the following tasks in this section:

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

Useful Info

Any database operations performed 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 do your own backups, then consider getting professional WordPress support, or use backup plugins. You can learn more about a great WordPress backup plugin that can fully automate your backup process here:

User Permissions

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

Cleverness to do list plugin - User Permissions Tab


If you have chosen Individual List, the only item applicable for this section is the View To-Do List permission …

Cleverness WordPress plugin to-do lists - User Permissions Settings - View To Do-List

If you plan to configure user permissions and capabilities for Group or Master List types, select the highest level capabilities that you want users to have access to for each option …

Cleverness to-do lists plugin - User Permissions Settings Tab - View To-Do-List drop-down menu

The default general capabilities of each user role are as follows:

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

Note: When working with the Master list type non-administrators should only be allowed to view and complete items, otherwise they will have the ability to edit the Master list itself.

Cleverness plugin WP - User Permissions Settings Tab

Let’s go through the settings for this tab:

View To-Do List

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

Complete To-Do Item Capability

This option enables the chosen capability to mark items as completed or uncompleted.

Add To-Do Item Capability

Here you can enable the chosen capability to add new to-do items.

Edit To-Do Item Capability

This setting enables the chosen capability to edit existing items.

Assign To-Do Item Capability

This enables the chosen capability to assign to-do items to individual users.

View All Assigned Tasks Capability

This allows 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 permit the chosen capability to delete individual items.

Delete All To-Do Items Capability

Here you can allow the chosen capability to purge all the completed to-do items.

Add Categories Capability

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


Being able to import and export to-do list data can be very useful. For example, you may need to transfer data from one site to another, or store the data for backup or archiving purposes.

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

to-do list plugin - Import/Export

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

WordPress plugin to do list - Import/Export

Exporting To-Do List Data

To export and download your list data settings click on the ‘Download Export File’ …

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

This opens up a new window allowing you to download and save your data as plain text to a storage device …

Cleverness WordPress plugin to do lists - Import/Export Tab - Export Settings

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

WP Export Menu

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

WordPress Export Menu - To-Do Data

Importing To-Do List Data

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

to do list plugin Cleverness - Import/Export - Import/Export Settings - Import To Do Data File

Select the file and click ‘Open’ …

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

After uploading the data file, click on ‘Import Settings’ …

WordPress plugin to-do list - Import/Export Settings Tab - Import/Export Settings Section - Import File

Your file will be imported.

Now that you have configured all of the plugin settings, you are ready to begin create and edit your lists.

Plugin Usage

To create a new to do list, log into your WordPress dashboard, then scroll down the menu and click on To-Do List > To-Do List

WP to-do list plugin - To-Do List > To-Do List

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

to-do lists Cleverness - To-Do List screen

Adding New To-Do Items To Your List

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 dashboard toolbar …

to do lists Cleverness - Add A New Item To Your List

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

Cleverness plugin - Add New To Do Items

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, since the link will simply send you to the “Add New To-Do Item” section at the bottom of the page) …

Cleverness plugin - Add New To Do Items

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

Depending on the way you have configured the plugin settings, you may or may not see certain options displayed when adding new to-do items.

Configure 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 - Add New To Do Items

Note: If you are using a list type that lets you assign items to users, select a user from the drop-down list and assign them the item …

to do list Cleverness - Assign To Do Items to Users

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

WP plugin to do lists - Assign To-Do Items to Users

Once you have added the item, it will display as an entry in the ‘To-Do List’ table …

Cleverness plugin to do list - Adding New To-Do Items

Repeat the above process to continue adding items to your to-do list …

Cleverness - Add New To-Do Items

Edit And Delete To-Do Items

To edit or delete an item, click on the ‘Edit’ or ‘Delete’ buttons associated with items under the ‘Action’ column …

Edit And Delete To Do Items

Depending on your configuration settings (see previous section), users assigned to tasks may also receive email notifications …

to-do list Cleverness - Email Assigned To-Do Items to User

Once you have created your to do list, users can view the list from their user dashboard …

Cleverness to do list - View To-Do List User Dashboard

When the user assigned with completing an item clicks on the item check box …

Cleverness plugin WordPress - Complete To Do List Item

… the item disappears from the “To-Do” list …

Cleverness plugin WordPress - Completed To-Do List Item

And gets added to the ‘Completed Items’ table located in the ’To-Do List’ page …

to do lists Cleverness - Complete To-Do List Items User Dashboard

Additional Information

The Cleverness To-Do List plugin provides additional functions that let you display a to-do list on your site using widgets, and insert lists into any page or post using shortcodes.

Plugin Widget

To add a to-do list to your site using widgets, go to the ‘Widgets’ section (Appearance > Widgets) and drag the ‘To-Do List’ widget to the location in your sidebar (or footer) menu where you would like the list to display …

Cleverness plugin to do list - Using The Cleverness Plugin Widget

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

to-do lists Cleverness - Using The Cleverness Plugin Widget

The to-do list will display wherever the widget has been inserted (i.e. the sidebar menu, footer, etc.)

Cleverness plugin - Widgets

To learn more about how to use widgets in WordPress, see the tutorial below:

Plugin Short Codes

Cleverness To-Do List also lets you create lists and checklists on your site by inserting short codes into your content.

To access the plugin’s short code documentation, click on To-Do List > To-Do List from your dashboard menu …

Cleverness plugin WP to-do list - To-Do List Menu

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

Cleverness plugin WordPress - Shortcodes

Click on the ‘Shortcodes’ tab to access the Shortcode Documentation …

Plugin Short Codes

This section explains different ways to configure and use shortcodes to display lists and checklists on your posts and pages.

Once you know what type of information you want to display on your site, create a new page or post and either type or paste the short code into the content editor …

Short Codes

Publish your post or page and you will see the list displayed where you added the short code …

Using Plugin Short Codes

To download this plugin, visit this site:

Congratulations! Now you know how to create and add a to-do list in WordPress.


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