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 - How To Create A To-Do List In WordPressIf you run a fast-paced business or manage a team, there is never enough time to get things done.

There are just so many things to do and remember. You have clients to meet, projects to complete, priorities to attend to, fires to extinguish, calls and appointments to make, schedules to keep and so on. The amount of things that need ”doing” never seems to stop.

Now … on top of all this, add the extra dimension of trying to promote and grow your business online and keeping your website updated with regular content and everything suddenly begins to feel unmanageable and out of control.

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

A ”tried and true” tool that can help you save time, alleviate stress, and allow you to take control is to use a “to-do” list.

The Benefits Of Using A To-Do List

A “to-do” list helps you measure your progress when trying to complete projects. Your to do list can be very detailed and very specific, or act as a concise reminder of what needs to be done over a given period of time.

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

Think More Clearly

Writing to-do lists means you won’t have to try and remember things or store a ton of information inside your head. Once things are recorded on a to-do list, your brain is free to process information and you can focus on other important things.

Save Time

Prioritizing tasks on your list helps you manage your time better. You can develop a better perspective on what’s truly important vs what is not, and what steps need to be done first.

Quickly Reschedule Or Reorganize

A to do list helps you better handle events. If you suddenly find that a meeting gets cancelled at short notice or extra time is made available because some task was completed sooner than expected, you can quickly reorganize or reschedule and keep working with minimal disruption.

Ensures Accountability

Without accountability there’s 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.

Feeling Of Accomplishment

Ticking items off to do lists not only makes you feel more productive, 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 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. Create a list, prioritize your list items and work things systematically and productivity and efficiency in your business will increase.

What about adding a to do list to your website?

In this step-by-step tutorial we are going to show you how to easily add a to-do list to WordPress to help get things done online  faster and more efficiently using a great little plugin called Cleverness To-Do List.

Cleverness To Do List

Cleverness plugin

Download The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin


This plugin lets you easily add customizable to do lists to WordPress.

Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Features

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

You can set up Cleverness To Do List to have private to do lists for each user, 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 a specific user (this includes a setting to email new to-do items to assigned users) and optionally to have those items only seen 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 also included in the front-end administration.

A new menu item is added to the admin backend to manage your list and your to do list can also be displayed on a 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 short codes for front-end administration of your list. Management of categories is accessible via the back-end admin section.

If you plan to run a multi-author site you can use the 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 from the same developer.

Installing The Plugin

Log into your WP dashboard and select Plugins > Add New …

WP Plugin Install

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

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

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

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

Click “Activate Plugin” …

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

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

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

After you have activated the plugin, click on Settings

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

Note: You can also get to the plugin’s settings area by choosing To-Do List > Settings from your dashboard menu …

Cleverness to-do list plugin WordPress - To Do List

This takes you to the ‘Settings’ section …

Cleverness to-do lists plugin - To Do List Settings

Let’s set up the plugin …

How To Configure The Plugin

The “To-Do List” plugin ‘Settings’ area is divided into four tabs:

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

Let’s now configure each of these tabs.

To-Do List Settings

Cleverness plugin to do list - To Do List Settings Screen

To-Do List Categories

Choose ‘Enabled’ to organize your 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 menu …

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

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

Cleverness - To-Do List Add Category

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

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

List View

List View allows you to choose how to-do lists will be viewed. You can choose from 3 types of list views:

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

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

‘Sort Order’ lets you specify how to sort to-do list items.

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

Show Added By

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

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

Show Date Completed

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

Show Deadline

If enabled (‘Yes’), you can specify deadlines for your to-do items …

to do lists plugin - To-Do List Settings Deadline

Show Progress

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

Cleverness plugin to-do list - To-Do List Progress Bar

Show Admin Bar Menu

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

Cleverness plugin - 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

Cleverness - 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 plan to run a multi-author 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 provides you with a complete WordPress editorial solution …

WordPress Post Planner - WordPress Plugin

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

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

WordPress button - save changes

Advanced Settings

Once you have configured the settings in the To-Do List Settings tab, click on the ‘Advanced Settings’ tab …

Cleverness plugin WordPress to-do list - Advanced Settings

This brings up the plugin’s ‘Advanced Settings’ section …

Cleverness - Advanced Settings Tab

This section lets you customize your To-Do lists, assign to-do tasks to users and carry out plugin 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’ tab lets you customize your To Do List …

Cleverness plugin - Advanced Settings - To-Do List Customization 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 date section of the WordPress Codex below:

WordPress Codex – Formatting Date And Time

Priority Labels

In this area you can customize labels for highest (important), normal and lowest (low) priority items …

to do list Cleverness - Priority Labels

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

to do lists Cleverness - Priority column

Show To-Do Item ID

If enabled, item IDs display on the to-do list …

WordPress to-do list plugin - Item ID

Show Date To-Do Was Added

Enabling this option (‘Yes’) will show the date your To-Do Items table was added …

Cleverness to do list - sort by date

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 options in this section and assign items to other users …

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

You can configure the following settings in this section:

Assign To-Do Items to Users

If enabled (‘Yes’), you can assign to-do items to other users …

Cleverness - 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 to display items only to users who have been specifically assigned those items. Leaving this option disabled (‘No’) will display items to all users.

User Roles to Show

Check the boxes in this area (Administrator to display the type of users that can be assigned items. Leave the checkbox unticked for any roles that you do not want to assign to-do items.

Email Assigned To-Do Items to User

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

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

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

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

to do lists plugin Cleverness - Add Category to Subject

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

Leave this option disabled if you don’t want categories to show the email subject.

Show Who Assigned the To-Do Item in Email

If this option is enabled (‘Yes’), you can display the user who assigned the to-do item in the email. This option is useful if, for example, you have multiple project managers assigning to-do items to users …

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

From Field for Emails Sent to User

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

Cleverness plugin WP to-do lists - From Field for Emails Sent to User

From Email

Enter the email address that you would like displayed as the “sent from” address …

WP plugin to do lists - From Email

Subject Field for Emails Sent to User

In this field, enter a subject field for the email that will be sent out automatically to users whenever a new item has been assigned in your to-do list …

to do list Cleverness - To Do Item Email Subject Field

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 to do list WP - Show Who Assigned the To Do Item in Email

To-Do List Advanced Settings > Database Cleanup

In this section you can perform database maintenance tasks associated with plugin data directly from your plugin settings area …

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

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

You can perform the following tasks in this section:

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


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 back up your files manually, then get professional help, or use a backup plugin. You can learn more about a WordPress backup plugin that can fully automate your backup process here:

User Permissions

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

Cleverness plugin - User Permissions Settings Tab


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

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

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 have access to for each option …

to do list Cleverness - User Permissions Tab - View To Do-List

By default, general capabilities for 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-administrator users should only be allowed to view and complete items, otherwise they will have the ability to edit the Master list.

Cleverness to-do lists - User Permissions

Let’s go through the settings for the User Permissions section:

View To-Do List

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

Complete To-Do Item Capability

Here you can permit the chosen capability to mark items as completed or uncompleted.

Add To-Do Item Capability

This enables the selected capability to add new to-do items.

Edit To-Do Item Capability

This setting enables the selected capability to modify existing items.

Assign To-Do Item Capability

This option enables the selected capability to delegate to-do items to individual users.

View All Assigned Tasks Capability

Here you can permit 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 to-do 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

This enables 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 decide to transfer data from one site to another, or store your list data for backup or archiving purposes.

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

WordPress to do lists plugin - Import/Export Settings

Use this section to easily import and export your list data and plugin settings …

Cleverness - 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 plugin WordPress - Import/Export Settings Tab - Import/Export Settings Section - Download Export File

This opens up a window allowing you to view or save your data as plain text to a storage device …

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

In addition to exporting data from the ‘Import/Export’ section, you can also export data by going to your WordPress dashboard menu and choosing Tools > Export

Tools > 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 download your file to your hard drive…

Export WP - To Do

Importing To-Do List Data

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

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

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

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

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

Cleverness - Import/Export Settings - Import/Export Settings Section - Import File

Your file data will be imported.

Now that you have configured all plugin settings, you can begin create and edit to do lists.

Plugin Usage

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

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

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

Cleverness to do list plugin - To-Do List page

Add New Items To Your List

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

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

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

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

to-do list Cleverness - How To Add A New Item 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 is only going to take you to the “Add New To-Do Item” section at the bottom of the screen) …

Cleverness plugin - Adding A New Item 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 configured the plugin’s settings, some options may not display when adding new to-do items.

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

Cleverness plugin - Add A New Item To Your List

Note: If you have selected a list type that allows you to assign tasks to 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 multiple users to the same item (click on ‘x’ to delete a user) …

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

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

to do list plugin - Adding A New Item To Your To-Do List

Repeat the above process to add new items to your to-do list …

Cleverness plugin WordPress - How To Add New To-Do Items

Edit And Delete Items From Your List

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

Edit And Remove Items From Your List

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

Cleverness plugin WP - Email Assigned To-Do Items to User

Once you have created your to do list, users can view it inside their own dashboard …

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

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

WordPress plugin to do list - Completed To Do Item

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

Cleverness - Complete To Do List Item

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

Cleverness plugin WordPress to-do lists - Complete To-Do List Item

Additional Information

The Cleverness To-Do List plugin provides added functionality that lets you display a to-do list on your WordPress site using widgets, and insert lists into content inside a page or post using shortcodes.

Using The Plugin Widget

To add a to-do list 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 want your to-do list to display …

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

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

plugin to-do lists Cleverness - Widgets

Your list will appear on your site where the ‘to-do-list’ widget has been placed (e.g. the sidebar menu, footer, etc.)

Cleverness plugin WordPress - Widgets

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

Using The Cleverness Plugin Shortcodes

Cleverness To-Do List also lets you display to-do lists and checklists on your site by inserting shortcodes into your content.

To access the plugin’s shortcode documentation, select To-Do List > To-Do List from your WordPress admin menu …

to do list Cleverness - To-Do List Menu

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

Cleverness to do lists - Using The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Shortcodes

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

Short Codes

This section explains various ways to configure and use shortcodes for displaying lists and checklists on your content.

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 inside the content editor …

Using The Cleverness To Do List Plugin Short Codes

Publish your page or post and you should see the list displayed where you have inserted the shortcode …

Using The Cleverness Plugin Shortcodes

Visit this site to learn more about this plugin:

Congratulations! Now you can create and 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)