How To Add To-Do Lists In WordPress

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

How To Create To Do Lists In WordPress

WordPress Tutorials - Creating 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, urgent tasks to complete, meetings to attend, fires to put out, deliveries to make, schedules to keep and so on. The “doing” never stops.

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

Whether you run a business, website, blog, or manage a project, you need to be able to organize and prioritize your daily activities, track your progress and daily accomplishments, and, if necessary, delegate tasks to members of your team efficiently.

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

Benefits Of Using A To-Do List

A “to-do” list helps you keep track of your progress as you work towards your objectives. Your to-do list can be detailed and very specific, or serve as a reminder of what needs to be done over a given period of time.

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

Clearer Thinking

Creating a to do list means that you don’t have to try and remember things or clutter your brain with details. Once tasks are jotted down on a to do list, your brain is free to process other information and you can focus on more important things.

Better Manage Your Time

Prioritizing tasks on your list helps you save time and better manage your workload. You can gain a clearer perspective on what is more important vs what is not, and what steps have to be completed first.

Log Your Work

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

Ensures Accountability

With no accountability there is no commitment to getting things completed, and no motivation to take meaningful action. Lack of accountability can also let excuses creep in and take over your work day.

Feeling Of Accomplishment

Crossing items off to do lists gives you a feeling of accomplishment and allows you to relax more, as you can objectively see (or show) that the work is being completed and that things are moving forward.

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 increases your business productivity and efficiency.

Let’s turn now to using a to do list on your website or blog. More specifically, how to add to-do lists to WordPress.

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

Cleverness To Do List

to-do list plugin

Download The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin


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

Plugin Features

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

You can set up 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 option offers different settings. You can delegate to do items to specific users (this includes emailing new to-do items to the user) and optionally to have those items be seen by that user. You can also assign different permission levels using capabilities. There are also settings available to display 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 lists can also appear 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 shortcodes for front-end administration of the list. Category management is restricted to the back-end.

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

Plugin Installation

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

Add New WP Plugin

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

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

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

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

Click “Activate Plugin” …

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

Note: You can also activate the plugin in the Plugins screen …

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

After the plugin has been activated, click on Settings

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

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

plugin to do lists Cleverness - To-Do List

This takes you to the ‘Settings’ screen …

Cleverness to do lists - To Do List Settings

Let’s configure the plugin …

How To Configure The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin

The Settings screen is divided into 4 tabs:

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

Let’s review each of these tabs.

To-Do List Settings

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

To-Do List Categories

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

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

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

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

to do lists Cleverness - To-Do List Categories

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

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

List View

List View lets you choose how your to-do lists are viewed. There are 3 to-do list views:

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

Cleverness plugin - To-Do List Sort Order

‘Sort Order’ lets you specify how to order list items.

If you choose Alphabetical, Category or ID options, items will be first sorted 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 applies if ‘List View’ is set to ‘Group’.

Show Date Completed

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

Show Deadline

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

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

Show Progress

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

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

Show Admin Bar Menu

Enabling this option lets you display the ‘To-Do List’ menu in your WordPress Admin bar

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

Use WYSIWYG Editor

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

plugin to do list - To-Do List WYSIYG Editor

Use Auto Paragraphs

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

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, from the same developer to help make the task of managing a multi-author WordPress site easier …

WordPress Post Planner - WordPress Multi-Author Publishing Plugin

For more information about using this handy plugin, visit this site: WordPress Post Planner – WordPress Plugin

When you are done configuring your options, click the ‘Save Changes’ button to update your settings …

WordPress button - save changes

Advanced Settings

Once you have configured the general settings, click on the ‘Advanced Settings’ tab to proceed …

Cleverness plugin to do lists WP - Advanced Settings Tab

This brings up the ‘Advanced Settings’ screen …

Cleverness to do lists plugin - Advanced Settings

This screen lets you customize your To Do lists, assign to-do items 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 allows you to customize your To-Do List …

Cleverness - To-Do List 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 formatting dates in WordPress, refer to 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 important, middle and low items …

Cleverness plugin - Priority section

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

Cleverness WordPress plugin to do lists - Priority column

Show To-Do Item ID

Enabling this option (‘Yes’) will show item IDs on the to-do list …

Cleverness - Item ID

Show Date To-Do Was Added

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

plugin to do list - 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 options in this area and assign to-do items to other users …

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

You can configure the following settings in this area:

Assign To-Do Items to Users

Enable this option to assign tasks to other users …

plugin 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

If enabled, you can display to-do items only to users who have been specifically assigned those items. Leave this option disabled (‘No’) to display to-do items to all users.

User Roles to Show

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

Email Assigned To-Do Items to User

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

Cleverness to-do lists plugin - 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, 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 to-do list - Add Category to Subject

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

If you don’t want to show categories in the email subject, 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 various 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

Use this field to customize the “From” field when sending out email notifications. You can enter your company name, your domain, your name, or anything you like into this field …

Cleverness - From Field for Emails Sent to User

From Email

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

Cleverness plugin - From Email

Subject Field for Emails Sent to User

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

Cleverness to-do lists - To-Do Item Email Subject Field

Text in Emails Sent to User

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

To-Do List Advanced Settings > Database Cleanup

This section lets you carry out database maintenance operations associated with plugin data inside your plugin settings area without having to access your server …

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

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

The following tasks can be performed:

  • Delete Tables – Delete custom database tables that are no longer being used.
  • Delete All To-Do Items – Delete all to-do items.


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 do manual backups, then get professional WordPress help, or use backup plugins. You can learn more about a great WordPress backup plugin that we recommend using to completely automate your WordPress file and data backups here:

User Permissions

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

Cleverness plugin WP - User Permissions Settings


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

to-do list 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 want users to perform for each option …

Cleverness plugin - User Permissions Settings - View To-Do-List

By default, general capabilities of each user role are configured as follows:

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

Note: When using the Master list type non-admin users should only be authorized to view and complete items, otherwise they will have the ability to edit the Master list itself.

WordPress to do lists plugin - User Permissions Tab

Let’s now review the settings for this tab:

View To-Do List

This permits 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

This option enables the selected capability to mark items as completed or not completed.

Add To-Do Item Capability

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

Edit To-Do Item Capability

Here you can allow the chosen capability to modify existing items.

Assign To-Do Item Capability

Here you can enable 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 selected capability to delete individual items.

Delete All To-Do Items Capability

Here you can enable the selected capability to purge all the completed 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 want to transfer data from one website to another, or export your data for backup or reporting purposes.

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

Cleverness WordPress to do list plugin - Import/Export Tab

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

to-do lists Cleverness - Import/Export

Exporting To-Do List Data

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

Cleverness - Import/Export - Import/Export Settings - Download Export File

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

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

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

Export Menu

You can include to-do list data in a WordPress export file (in XML format), either by checking ‘All content’ (includes everything – pages, posts, 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 Tools > Export - To-Do Data File

Importing To-Do List Data

Importing a previously saved to-do list data file is easy. Just click on the ‘Browse’ button next to the ‘Choose File to Import’ field …

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

Select the previously saved to-do list data file in your hard drive or external drive and click ‘Open’ …

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

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

Cleverness to do lists - Import/Export Tab - Import/Export Settings - Import To Do Data File

Your file data will be imported.

Now that you have configured all of the plugin settings, you can start create and edit your to-do lists.

How To Use The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin

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

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

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

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

How To Add New To Do Items To Your List

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

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

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

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

Cleverness plugin WP to do lists - Adding A New Item To Your To Do 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, since the link will simply send you to the “Add New To-Do Item” section further down the page) …

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

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

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

Configure 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 item to your list …

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

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 …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edit And Delete Items From Your List

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

Edit And Delete To-Do Items

Depending on how you have configured your settings (discussed in the previous section), users assigned to tasks may also receive email notifications …

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

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

Cleverness plugin WordPress - View To-Do List

When users assigned with completing an item tick the item checkbox …

Cleverness to-do list plugin - Completed To Do Item

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

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

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

Cleverness - Complete To Do Item

Additional Information

The Cleverness plugin provides additional functions that let you display to-do lists on your WordPress website using widgets, and display lists on any post or page using short codes.

Using The Cleverness Plugin Widget

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

WordPress to do list plugin - Using The Plugin Widget

Configure the widget settings and click ’Save’ …

Cleverness - Plugin Widget

The list will display wherever you have inserted the widget (i.e. the sidebar menu, footer, etc.)

Cleverness - Using The Cleverness Plugin Widget

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

Using The Cleverness Plugin Short Codes

The plugin also lets you display lists on your site by placing shortcodes into your content.

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

Cleverness - To-Do List Menu

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

to do list Cleverness - Using The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Short Codes

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

Plugin Shortcodes

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

Once you know what information you want to add to your site, open up 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 should see the list showing exactly where you have inserted the shortcode …

Plugin Shortcodes

Visit the plugin website here to learn more about this plugin:

Congratulations! Now you know how to add to-do lists to your WordPress site or blog.


"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum


Originally published as How To Add To-Do Lists In WordPress.