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 Plugin Tutorials - Creating A To-Do List In WordPressTime is always in short supply, especially if you are a business owner.

There are just so many things to do and remember. You have so many deadlines to meet, project tasks to complete, meetings to attend, fires to put out, deliveries to make, schedules to keep and so on. The amount of things that need ”doing” never stops.

Now … on top of all this, add the extra dimension of promoting and growing your business online and keeping your website or blog updated with fresh content and everything can suddenly begin feeling unmanageable and out of control.

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

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

The Benefits Of Using A To-Do List

A “to do” list helps you track your progress as you to get tasks completed. Your to-do list can be quite detailed and very specific, or act as a concise reminder of what needs to be done today, tomorrow, next week, next month, etc.

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


A to do list helps you create order, keep things organized and reach your goals sooner.


Creating and organizing to do lists helps you view the larger picture and come up with a strategy to get things done effectively.

Quickly Reschedule And Reorganize

Having a to-do list helps you better deal with urgent situations. If an appointment suddenly gets cancelled at the last minute or extra time is made available because a task was completed sooner than expected, you can quickly reschedule and reorganize and continue working with minimal disruption.


Without accountability there’s no commitment to completion, and no motivation to act with a sense of purpose. Lack of accountability can also allow excuses to creep in and impact your productivity.

Feeling Of Accomplishment

Crossing items off to do lists gives you a sense of accomplishment and allows you to relax more, as you can objectively see (or show) that the work is getting done and that milestones are being reached.

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

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

In this detailed tutorial you are going to learn how to easily add to do lists to WordPress to improve business efficiency and productivity using a great little plugin called Cleverness To-Do List.

Cleverness To Do List

to do lists Cleverness

Cleverness To-Do List Plugin URL


This WordPress plugin lets you easily add a to do list to your WP website or blog.

Plugin Features

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

You can configure the plugin to assign private to do lists for each user, 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 a setting to email a new to-do item to users) 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 display deadline and progress fields. Category support is also included as front-end administration.

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

A sidebar widget is available as well as shortcode to display the to do list items on your site. There are 2 short codes for front-end administration of your list. Category management is accessible through 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 editors if you also install a copy of the Post Planner plugin for WordPress.

How To Install The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin

In your WP admin, choose Plugins > Add New

Install WP Plugin

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

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

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

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

Click “Activate Plugin” …

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

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

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

After the plugin has been activated, click on Settings

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

Note: You can also get to the plugin’s settings section by selecting To-Do List > Settings from your admin menu …

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

This takes you to the plugin ‘Settings’ area …

Cleverness plugin WP - To Do List Settings

The section below shows you how to set up the plugin …

How To Set Up The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin

The Settings screen is divided into four sections:

  • To-Do List Settings – This section is where 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 – The options in this tab let you configure user permissions and capabilities for Master and Group List types.
  • Import/Export – This tab is where you import and export your to-do plugin and list data settings.

Let’s go through each of these sections.

To-Do List Settings

Cleverness to do list - To Do List Settings Screen

To-Do List Categories

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

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

Cleverness plugin WP - To Do List Categories

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

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

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

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

List View

List View allows you to choose how lists are viewed. You can choose from three list views:

  • Individual – Choosing this option lets users create and manage their own private to-do list.
  • Group – Select this option if you want all users to be able to share one to-do list.
  • Master – Use 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 set the User Permissions appropriately in the ‘User Permissions’ tab (see further below).
Sort Order

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

‘Sort Order’ lets you specify how list items will be sorted.

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

Show Added By

Enabling this option lets you display which of your members has added an item to the 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 enabled (‘Yes’), you can specify deadlines for your to-do tasks …

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

Show Admin Bar Menu

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

Cleverness plugin to do lists WP - 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 plugin to-do list WordPress - WYSIWYG editor

Use Auto Paragraphs

Enable this option to display content in to-do list items using paragraphs.

Integrate with Post Planner

If you plan to run a multi-author website or blog, you can integrate the Cleverness To Do List plugin with a plugin called WordPress Post Planner, developed by the same plugin author that provides you with a complete WordPress editorial solution …

WordPress Post Planner - WordPress Plugin

Visit this site to learn more this handy plugin: WordPress Post Planner

Once you have configured your plugin options, remember to click the ‘Save Changes’ button to update your settings …

WordPress button save changes

Advanced Settings

After configuring the general settings, click on the ‘Advanced Settings’ tab to proceed …

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

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

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

In this tab you can customize your To Do lists, assign to-do items to users and carry out 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 lets you customize your To-Do List …

WordPress to do list plugin - To Do List Advanced Settings - Customize To Do List Settings

The following settings can be configured in this section:

Date Format

This section lets you specify how to display dates on your to-do lists (e.g. month/day/year, day/month/year, etc.)

Note: To learn more about how to format dates in WordPress, see the date 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 low items …

Cleverness plugin - Priority Labeling

Highest priority items are color-coded in red and lowest (low) priority items display in a lighter shade of grey …

Cleverness plugin WP to-do lists - colour-coding priority

Show To-Do Item ID

If this option is enabled, the items’ IDs appear on the to-do list …

to-do list Cleverness - Show To Do Item ID

Show Date To-Do Was Added

If this option is enabled, the date the to-do list was added shows up on the To-Do Items table …

Cleverness plugin WordPress - 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 to-do items to other users …

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

You can configure the following options in this section:

Assign To-Do Items to Users

Enabling this option (‘Yes’) lets you assign tasks to other users …

to-do lists Cleverness - 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 items only to users who have been assigned those items. Leaving this option disabled displays to-do items to all users.

User Roles to Show

Checking the boxes in this section (Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, Subscriber) displays the type of users that can be assigned todo 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

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

Cleverness - Email Assigned To Do Items to User

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 other 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 - Add Category to Subject

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

If you don’t want categories to show the subject of your emails, then leave this option disabled (‘No’).

Show Who Assigned the To-Do Item in Email

Enable this option (‘Yes’) to 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 …

WordPress plugin to do lists - 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 email notifications. Type the name of your company, your domain, your name, or anything you like in this field …

Cleverness - Show Who Assigned the To Do Item in Email

From Email

Add into this field the email address that you want to display as the “sent from” email address …

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

Subject Field for Emails Sent to User

Enter a subject field for the email that will be automatically distributed to users whenever a new item has been added to your to-do list …

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

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 lists - To Do Item Email Text Field

To-Do List Advanced Settings > Database Cleanup

In this area of the ‘Advanced Settings’ tab you can carry out database maintenance tasks related to plugin data inside your plugin settings area without having to log into your web server …

to-do list Cleverness - To Do List Advanced Settings > Database Cleanup

This is useful if, for example, you see that old todo items are still showing on your site.

The tasks below 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 to-do items.


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

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, then consider getting support services from a WordPress professional, or use a backup plugin. You can read about a great WordPress backup plugin that we recommend using to perform complete file and data backups here:

User Permissions

In this section you can configure user permissions and capabilities for Group or Master List types …

WP to do list plugin - User Permissions Settings Tab

Useful Info

If you choose the Individual List type, the only item that applies in this section is the View To-Do List option …

to do list plugin Cleverness - User Permissions - 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 would like users to have access to for each option …

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

The 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 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.

plugin to-do lists - User Permissions Settings Tab

Below is a description of the settings for the User Permissions 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 permits the selected capability to mark to-do items as completed or not completed.

Add To-Do Item Capability

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

Edit To-Do Item Capability

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

Assign To-Do Item Capability

Here you can enable the selected capability to delegate items to individual users.

View All Assigned Tasks Capability

Here you can allow 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

This permits the selected capability to delete individual to-do items.

Delete All To-Do Items Capability

This option enables the chosen capability to purge all the completed to-do items.

Add Categories Capability

This setting allows 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 want to transfer data from one website to another, or export the data for backup or archiving purposes.

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

WP plugin to-do lists - Import/Export

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

WP plugin to do lists - Import/Export Settings Tab

Exporting To-Do List Data

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

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

This opens up a window allowing you to download and save the data in plain text format to a storage medium (e.g. your hard drive) …

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

As well as exporting to-do 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 an 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 on the ‘Download Export File’ button to download your file to your hard drive…

WordPress Menu Export - To Do

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 - Import/Export Settings - Import To-Do File

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

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

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

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

Your file will be imported.

Once you have configured all of the plugin settings, you are ready to 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 WordPress - To-Do List Menu

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

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

How To Add New To-Do Items

There are a number of ways to add new to-do items.

For example, you can add a new item to your to-do list from your WP dashboard bar …

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

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

Cleverness to do lists plugin - Adding 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 contains many items, since the link will simply send you to the “Add New To-Do Item” section down the page) …

Cleverness plugin - Add New Items To Your To Do List

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

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

Select 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 to-do item …

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

Note: If you are using 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 to do list - Assign To Do Items to Users

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

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

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

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

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

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

Editing And Removing To-Do Items From Your List

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 From Your List

Depending on your configuration plugin settings (discussed in the previous section), users assigned to tasks may also receive an email notification in their inboxes …

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

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

Cleverness - View To Do List User Dashboard

When users assigned with an item complete the task and tick the item check box …

WordPress plugin to do list - Complete To Do List Item User Dashboard

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

Cleverness - Complete To-Do List Item User Dashboard

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

WordPress to-do lists plugin - Completed To Do List Item User Dashboard

Additional Plugin Information

The Cleverness plugin offers additional functions that let you display to-do lists on your WordPress site using widgets, and display lists on content inside a page or post using shortcodes.

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 menu location where you would like your list to show …

Cleverness plugin to-do list - Plugin Widget

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

Cleverness - Using The Plugin Widget

Your list will now display wherever the ‘to-do-list’ widget was added (e.g. the sidebar menu, footer, etc.)

to do lists Cleverness - Using The Cleverness Plugin Widget

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

Using The Cleverness Plugin Short Codes

You can also create lists to your site with short codes.

To access the plugin’s shortcode documentation, click on To-Do List > To-Do List from the admin menu …

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

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

Cleverness - Plugin Shortcodes

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

Plugin Shortcodes

This section explains various ways to configure and use short codes to display lists and checklists on your pages and posts.

Once you know what information you would like to display on your site, open up a new post or page and either type or paste the short code inside the content editor …

Short Codes

After publishing your page or post, you should see the list showing exactly where you added the shortcode …

Using Plugin Shortcodes

Visit the plugin website to learn more about this plugin:

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


"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)