How To Add To-Do Lists In WordPress

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

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How To Create A To Do List In WordPress

WP Plugin Tutorials - How To Create A To Do List In WordPressAs a busy person trying to run a business or manage a team, time is always in short supply.

There is just so much work to do and things to remember. You have so many deadlines to meet, projects to complete, meetings to attend, fires to put out, appointments to make, commitments to keep and so on. The amount of things that need ”doing” never stops.

Now … add the extra dimension of trying to promote and grow your business online and maintaining your website or blog updated with new content and everything can start becoming unmanageable and chaotic.

Whether you are running a business, website, blog, or managing a project, you need to be able to organize and manage your day.

A simple “tried and true” tool that can help you save time, alleviate stressful workloads, and allow you to gain some control is to use “to do” lists.

The Benefits Of Using A To-Do List

A “to-do” list can help you monitor your progress as you complete projects. Your to do list can be minutely detailed and specific, or act as a concise 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 Up Resources

Creating to-do lists means you don’t have to memorize things or store unnecessary information inside your mind. Once tasks are jotted down on a to do list, your mind is free to process information and you can focus on more important things.

Save Time

Prioritizing tasks on your list helps you manage your time better. You can develop a better perspective on what’s more important vs what’s not, and what steps should be completed first.

Document Your Work

To-do lists let you retain documented logs of what work has been done. You can use this to provide evidence of work done to clients or employers, or simply as a means of helping you monitor your own productivity and efficiency.

Ensures Accountability

With no accountability there’s no commitment to completion, and no motivation to take meaningful action. Lack of accountability allows excuses to creep in and impact your productivity.

Delegate Better

A to do list helps you better assign work to others. This is also important if you plan to collaborate with others (see further below).

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 systematically increases efficiency and productivity in your business.

What about using a to-do list on your WordPress website?

In this step-by-step tutorial you are going to learn how to create a to-do list in WordPress to improve business efficiency and productivity using a great little plugin called Cleverness To-Do List.

Cleverness To-Do List

Cleverness to do list plugin WordPress

Download The Plugin


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


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

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

The shared to-do list includes a number of settings. You can delegate to do items to a specific user (this includes emailing new to do items to the assigned user) and optionally to have those items be viewable by that user. You can also assign different permission levels to different users based on user roles. There are also settings to enable the display of 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 can also appear on the dashboard widget.

A sidebar widget is available as well as short code to display the to do list items on your blog. There are two shortcodes for front-end administration of the list. Management of categories is accessed via the back-end.

If you plan to set up a multi-author site you can use this to-do lists plugin to create custom to do lists for your post planners if you also install a copy of the Post Planner plugin for WordPress.

Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Installation

Log into your site’s admin and select Plugins > Add New …

WordPress Plugins

In the Install Plugins screen, type in “cleverness” into the search field and click Enter on your keyboard …

Cleverness - Cleverness plugin - Install To Do List

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

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

Click Activate Plugin

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

Note: You can also activate this plugin from the Plugins area …

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

When you have activated the plugin, click on Settings

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

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

Cleverness plugin - To-Do List > Settings Menu

This brings you to the ‘Settings’ screen …

Cleverness - To-Do List Settings

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

Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Setup

The Settings screen is divided into four tabs:

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

Let’s now configure each of these sections.

To-Do List Settings

Cleverness plugin to-do lists - To Do List Settings Screen


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

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

to-do lists Cleverness - To-Do List Menu Categories

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

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

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

Private categories are not visible using widgets or short codes (only when ‘Sort Order’ is set to ‘Category’)

List View

List View allows you to choose how lists will be viewed. You can select three to do list views:

  • Individual – Selecting this option lets each user create and manage their own private to-do list.
  • Group – Selecting this option lets all users share the same to-do list.
  • Master – Choose this option to have a 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 adjust the User Permissions appropriately in the ‘User Permissions’ tab (this is covered further below).
Sort Order

Cleverness - To Do List Sort Order

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

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

Show Added By

Enabling this option (‘Yes’) lets you display which members have added an item to your to-do list.

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

Show Date Completed

Enabling this option (‘Yes’) displays completion dates for to-do items.

Show Deadline

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

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

Show Progress

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

Cleverness plugin - To Do List Progress

Show Admin Bar Menu

If enabled (‘Yes’), the ‘To-Do List’ menu displays in your WP Dashboard Admin bar

to do list plugin Cleverness - To-Do List Show Admin Bar Menu

Use WYSIWYG Editor

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

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

Use Auto Paragraphs

Enable this option (‘Yes’) to display content in your to-do lists 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, developed by the same author to help make the task of managing a multi-author WordPress site easier …

WordPress Post Planner

To learn more about using this handy plugin, go here: WordPress Post Planner – WordPress Editorial Solution Plugin

When you are done configuring your options, remember to 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 to continue …

Cleverness plugin WordPress - To-Do List Advanced Settings Tab

This brings up the ‘Advanced Settings’ area …

Cleverness plugin to-do lists WordPress - Advanced Settings Tab

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

Let’s go 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’ tab allows you to customize your To Do List …

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

You can configure the following options in this section:

Date Format

This section lets you 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, refer to the relevant section of the WordPress Codex below:

WordPress Codex – Formatting Date And Time

Priority Labels

Here you can customize your labels for prioritizing important, middle (normal) and lowest (low) items …

Cleverness WordPress plugin to do list - Priority section

Items given the highest (important) priority are shown in red in your lists and lowest (low) priority items display in a lighter shade of grey …

Cleverness plugin WP - Priority column

Show To-Do Item ID

Enabling this option (‘Yes’) will display the items’ IDs on the list …

Cleverness plugin - Item ID

Show Date To-Do Was Added

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

Cleverness WP to do list plugin - sort by date

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 settings in this area and assign items to other users …

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

The following settings can be configured in this area:

Assign To-Do Items to Users

Enable this option (‘Yes’) to assign to-do items to other users …

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

Note: This setting must be set to ‘Yes’ for the settings below it to work.

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

Enable this option to display tasks 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

Checking the boxes in this section Author displays the type of users that can be assigned to-do items. Leave the checkbox 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 will automatically send users an email with their assigned to-do items …

plugin to do lists - Assigned To Do Items Email

Leave this option disabled (‘No’) if you don’t want to send out emails to users.

Note: If this option is disabled, you can skip the remaining settings in this section.

Add Category to Subject

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

Cleverness to-do list - Add Category to Subject

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

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

Show Who Assigned the To-Do Item in Email

Enable this option to display the user who assigned the to-do item in the email. This is a useful option if your site has a number of project managers assigning to-do items to users …

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

From Field for Emails Sent to User

This field lets you customize the “From” field when sending out email notices to users. Enter your company name, your domain, your name, or anything you like in this field …

plugin to-do list - To-Do Item Email From Field

From Email

In this field, type the email address that you would like displayed as the “sent from” address …

to do lists Cleverness - To Do Item Email From Field

Subject Field for Emails Sent to User

Add a subject field for the email that will be sent out automatically to users whenever a new item has been added in your to-do list …

Cleverness plugin to do lists WP - 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 plugin - To-Do Item Email Text Field

To-Do List Advanced Settings > Database Cleanup

This section of the ‘Advanced Settings’ tab allows you to perform database maintenance operations associated with plugin data directly from your plugin settings area itself without the need to access your server …

Cleverness to do lists plugin WordPress - To Do List Advanced Settings > Database Cleanup

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

The tasks below can be performed in this section:

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

Useful Information

Actions that you perform on your database from this screen cannot be undone. If you are comfortable to carry out database maintenance in this section, then remember to backup your WordPress database first.

If you don’t want to do manual backups, then get professional WordPress help, or use a backup plugin. Learn about a great WordPress backup plugin that can fully automate your site backups here:

User Permissions

Here you can configure user permissions and capabilities for Group and Master List types …

Cleverness plugin to-do list - User Permissions Settings Tab

Useful Information

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

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

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

Cleverness WordPress plugin to do lists - User Permissions Tab - View To Do-List dropdown menu

The default general capabilities for each user role are set 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 make sure that you only authorize non-administrators to view and complete items, otherwise they will have the ability to edit the Master list.

Cleverness to do list - User Permissions Settings

Below is a description of the settings for the User Permissions section:

View To-Do List

Here you can enable 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 allow the chosen capability to mark to-do items as completed or not completed.

Add To-Do Item Capability

This setting enables the chosen capability to add new to-do items.

Edit To-Do Item Capability

This setting allows the selected capability to modify existing items.

Assign To-Do Item Capability

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

View All Assigned Tasks Capability

Here you can enable the chosen 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 selected capability to delete individual items.

Delete All To-Do Items Capability

This setting allows the chosen capability to purge all the completed to-do items.

Add Categories Capability

This permits the selected capability to add new categories.


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

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

WordPress plugin to do lists - Import/Export Tab

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

Cleverness plugin WordPress - Import/Export Tab

Exporting To-Do List Data

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

WP plugin to do list - Import/Export Settings Tab - Import/Export Settings - Download Export File

This will open up a new window allowing you to view or download your data as plain text to a storage device (e.g. your hard drive) …

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

In addition to exporting to-do list data from the ‘Import/Export’ tab, you can also export data by going to your WordPress admin menu and selecting Tools > Export

WP 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 save your file to your storage medium…

WordPress Tools > Export Menu - Export To-Do Data File

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 …

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

Locate the file in your hard drive or external drive and click ‘Open’ …

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

Once uploading your data file, click the ‘Import Settings’ button …

Cleverness plugin - Import/Export Settings Tab - Import/Export Settings - Import To Do Data File

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

After configuring all of the plugin settings, you are ready to begin creating and editing to do lists.

How To Use Cleverness To-Do List

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

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

This brings up the ‘To-Do List’ page …

plugin to-do list - To-Do List page

Adding New To-Do Items

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

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

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

You can also add new to-do items inside the ‘To-Do List’ dashboard section by clicking on the ‘Add To-Do item’ link …

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

You can also 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 is only going to send you to the “Add New To-Do Item” section down the page) …

WordPress plugin to-do lists - Add New To Do Items

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

Depending on how you have configured your plugin’s settings, you may or may not see certain options displayed when when you add new to-do items.

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

WordPress to do list plugin - Adding New To Do Items

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

Cleverness plugin WP - Assign To-Do Items to Users

You can also assign items to multiple users (click on ‘x’ to delete a user) …

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

After After adding a new item, the item will display as an entry in the ‘To-Do Items’ table …

Cleverness - Add A New Item To Your To-Do List

Repeat the above process to keep adding items to your list …

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

Editing And Deleting Items

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

Editing And Deleting To Do Items

Depending on how you have configured the plugin (discussed earlier), users assigned to tasks may also receive email notifications …

Cleverness - Email Assigned To Do Items to User

After creating your to-do list, users can view the list from their user dashboard …

Cleverness to-do list - View To-Do List

When a user assigned with completing an item ticks the item checkbox …

Cleverness plugin WP - Completed To Do List Items User Dashboard

… the item no longer appears in the “To-Do” list …

Cleverness to do list - Completed To-Do Items User Dashboard

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

to do list Cleverness - Complete To-Do List Item User Dashboard

Additional Plugin Information

The Cleverness plugin offers added functionality that lets you display to-do lists on your WordPress website using widgets, and insert lists into any page or post using shortcodes.

Using The Cleverness Plugin Widget

To add to-do lists 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 menu where you would like your list to appear …

Cleverness plugin WP to do list - Plugin Widget

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

WordPress to-do list plugin - Widgets

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

to-do lists plugin Cleverness - Using The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Widget

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


The plugin also lets you display to-do lists to your site by placing shortcodes into your content.

To access the plugin’s short code documentation, select To-Do List > To-Do List from the admin menu …

Cleverness plugin to do lists - To-Do List Menu

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

to-do list Cleverness - Using The Cleverness Plugin Short Codes

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

Using Plugin Shortcodes

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 would like to add to your site, open up a new page or post and either type or paste the shortcode into the content area …

Using Plugin Shortcodes

Publish your post or page and you will see the list showing in the location where you have added the short code …

Using The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Short Codes

Visit the plugin website here for more information about this plugin:

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


"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)