How To Add To-Do Lists In WordPress

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

Creating To-Do Lists In WordPress

WordPress Plugin Tutorials - Creating A To Do List In WordPressAs a busy person trying to run a business or manage a team, there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done.

There is just so much work to do and things to remember. You have clients to meet, tasks to complete, meetings to attend, fires to put out, calls and appointments to make, schedules to keep and so on. The stress of trying to get things done on time never seems to end.

Now … add the extra workload of promoting and growing your business online and keeping your website updated with regular content and things suddently begin feeling unmanageable and chaotic.

Whether you are running a business, website, blog, or managing a team, it’s important 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 or staff efficiently.

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

To-Do Lists – Benefits

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

Here are just a few of the many benefits of using to do lists:

Free The Brain

Writing to do lists means that you won’t have to try to memorize things or store information inside your head. Once tasks are written down on a to do list, your mind is free to process other information and you can focus on other areas that could be more important.

Better Strategic Planning

Creating and organizing to-do lists helps you break larger projects into doable tasks and formulate a strategy to get tasks done efficiently.

Quickly Reorganize And Reschedule

A to-do list helps you better handle changes in circumstances. If a meeting gets cancelled at short notice or extra time is made available because something was completed sooner than expected, you can quickly reorganize and continue moving forward with little to minimal disruption.


With no accountability there’s no commitment to getting things completed, and no motivation to take meaningful action. Lack of accountability allows excuses to creep in and influence your productivity.

Collaborating With Others

Creating to do lists and other project management tools is essential for getting other people involved on some of your larger or more complex projects.

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

What about adding a to do list to your website?

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

Cleverness To-Do List

Cleverness plugin WP

Download The Plugin


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

Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Features

Note: the plugin 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 individual users, to have all users share your to-do list, or to have a master list with individual completion of items.

The shared to do list option includes a number of different settings. You can assign to do items to a specific user (this includes a setting to email new to-do items to assigned users) and optionally to have assigned items be viewable by that user. You can also assign different permission levels using capabilities. There are also settings available to show deadline and progress fields. Category support is included as well as front-end administration.

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

A sidebar widget is also available as short code to display the to do list items on your blog. There are 2 shortcodes for front-end list administration. Management of categories is accessed via the back-end.

If you plan to set up a multi-author blog you can use the plugin to create custom to do lists for your post planners if you also use a copy of the Post Planner plugin from the same developer.

How To Install The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin

Log into your WP dashboard and in the menu click on Plugins > Add New …

Plugins Menu

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

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

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

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

Activate the plugin after installing it …

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

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

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

Once the plugin has been activated, click on Settings

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

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

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

This takes you to the plugin ‘Settings’ screen …

WP plugin to-do lists - To Do List Settings

The section below shows you how to configure the plugin …

How To Set Up The Plugin

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

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

Let’s configure each of these sections.

To-Do List Settings

Cleverness to-do list - To Do List Settings Screen

To-Do List Categories

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

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

Cleverness to-do list - To-Do List Menu

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

Cleverness - To-Do List Add Category

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

Private categories will not be visible when using 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. You can choose from 3 kinds of list views:

  • Individual – Choose this option if you want each user to be able to create and manage their own private to-do list.
  • Group – Choosing this option lets users share the same to-do list.
  • Master – Choose this option to create one master list for all users, where users have their own individual completion of items. If using 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 lists - To Do List Sort Order

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

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

Show Added By

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

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

Show Date Completed

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

Show Deadline

If enabled, you can specify deadlines for your to-do tasks …

Cleverness plugin to-do lists - To Do List Deadline

Show Progress

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

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

Show Admin Bar Menu

If this option is enabled, the ‘To-Do List’ menu displays in your WP Admin bar

Cleverness - 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

Cleverness to-do list plugin WP - WYSIWYG 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 collaborative site or blog, you can integrate the Cleverness To Do List plugin with a plugin called WordPress Post Planner, developed by the same plugin author that provides you with a complete WordPress editorial solution …

WordPress Post Planner

Go here to learn more about using this plugin: WordPress Post Planner – Multi-Author Publishing Plugin For WordPress

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

WordPress button - save changes

Advanced Settings

After you have configured the general settings, click on the ‘Advanced Settings’ tab …

plugin to-do lists - Advanced Settings Tab

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

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

This screen lets you customize your To Do lists, assign to-do items to users and carry out plugin database maintenance tasks.

Let’s take you through how to configure the plugin’s ‘Advanced Settings’ section …

To-Do List Advanced Settings > Customize The To-Do List

In this section you can customize your To-Do List …

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

The following options can be configured in this section:

Date Format

This section lets you specify how to display dates on your todo list (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, normal and lowest (low) items …

WordPress to do list plugin - Priority section

high priority items are shown in red in your lists and lowest priority items display in a lighter shade of grey …

Cleverness plugin WP to-do lists - sort by priority

Show To-Do Item ID

If enabled, the item’s ID show up on the list …

WP plugin to do lists - Item ID

Show Date To-Do Was Added

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

Cleverness plugin to-do list - Date Added column

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

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

Cleverness plugin - 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 to assign tasks to other users …

to do list 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 to display to-do items to all users.

User Roles to Show

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

Email Assigned To-Do Items to User

When this option is enabled (‘Yes’), WordPress will automatically send an email to users with their assigned to-do items …

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

Leave this option disabled if you don’t want emails sent out to users.

Note: If you disable this option, skip the remaining 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 …

plugin to do lists - Add Category to Email 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 to-do categories to display the email subject, then leave this option disabled.

Show Who Assigned the To-Do Item in Email

If enabled, 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 - Show Who Assigned the To Do Item in Email

From Field for Emails Sent to User

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

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

From Email

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

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

Subject Field for Emails Sent to User

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

Cleverness plugin - Subject Field for Emails Sent to User

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

To-Do List Advanced Settings > Database Cleanup

In this area you can carry out database maintenance tasks related to plugin data inside your plugin settings area …

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

This function is useful if, for example, you see that old to-do items are still listed on your site.

The following tasks can be performed in this section:

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


Any database operations performed from this screen cannot be undone. If you are sure that you want to proceed with any of the database operations available in this section, then make sure to backup your WordPress database first.

If you don’t want to back up your files yourself, then consider using professional support services, or use backup plugins. Learn about a great WordPress backup plugin that we recommend using to completely automate your site backups here:

User Permissions

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

Cleverness to-do list - User Permissions Settings Tab


If you select Individual List, the only configurable item applicable in this section is the View To-Do List option …

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

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

to-do lists plugin - User Permissions - View To Do-List

The default general capabilities of 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 make sure that you only authorize non-admin users to view and complete items, otherwise they will have the ability to edit the Master list itself.

Cleverness to-do list plugin - User Permissions Settings Tab

Here is a description of the settings for this section:

View To-Do List

Here you can allow 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 permits the selected capability to mark items as completed or uncompleted.

Add To-Do Item Capability

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

Edit To-Do Item Capability

This setting permits the chosen capability to edit existing items.

Assign To-Do Item Capability

This enables the selected capability to delegate items to individual users.

View All Assigned Tasks Capability

This setting allows 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 chosen capability to delete individual to-do items.

Delete All To-Do Items Capability

This setting enables the chosen capability to purge all the completed items.

Add Categories Capability

This setting permits the chosen capability to add new categories.


Being able to import and export to-do list data can be useful. For example, you may decide to transfer data from an existing list to another website, or store the data for backup or reporting purposes.

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

Cleverness plugin to do list - Import/Export

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

WordPress to-do lists plugin - 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’ …

WP plugin to-do lists - Import/Export - Import/Export Settings Section - Download Export File

This will open up a new window allowing you to view or save the data in plain text format to a storage device …

Cleverness to do lists - Import/Export - Export Settings

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

WordPress Export Menu

You can include to-do list data in a WordPress export file (in XML format), either by selecting ‘All content’ (includes everything – pages, posts, etc…), or selecting ‘To-Do’ from the ‘Choose what to export’ section and clicking the ‘Download Export File’ button to download your file to your storage medium…

WordPress Export Menu - Export To-Do Data

Importing To-Do List Data

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plugin Usage

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

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

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

plugin to do list Cleverness - To-Do List screen

Add New To-Do Items

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

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

Cleverness plugin - Adding New To-Do Items To Your List

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

Cleverness to-do list - Add New Items To Your To Do 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 will simply send you to the “Add New To-Do Item” section down the screen) …

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

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

Depending on how you have configured your plugin settings, some options may not display when when you add new to-do items.

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

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

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

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

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

WordPress plugin to-do list - Assign To Do Items to Users

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

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

Repeat this process to continue adding new items to your list …

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

Editing And Deleting Items From Your List

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

Editing And Removing To Do Items From Your List

Depending on your plugin configuration plugin settings (discussed earlier), users assigned to completing tasks may also receive email notifications …

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

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

Cleverness to do lists - View To-Do List

When the user assigned with an item completes the task and clicks on the item checkbox …

Cleverness to do list - Completed To Do Item User Dashboard

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

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

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

Cleverness plugin - Complete To-Do List Items User Dashboard

Additional Plugin Information

The Cleverness To-Do List plugin provides additional functions that let you display a to-do list on your website using widgets, and display a list on any page or post using short codes.

Plugin Widget

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

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

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

Cleverness - Widgets

The list will display on your site where you have added the widget (i.e. the sidebar menu, footer, etc.)

Cleverness to-do list - Using The Cleverness To Do List Plugin Widget

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

Plugin Short Codes

The Cleverness To-Do List plugin also lets you create lists on your site using short codes.

To access the documentation on using short codes, click on To-Do List > To-Do List from your admin menu …

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

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

Cleverness to do list plugin - Using The Cleverness Plugin Shortcodes

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

Using The Cleverness Plugin Shortcodes

The documentation section explains different ways to configure and use short codes to display lists and checklists on your content.

Once you know what type of information you would like to display on your site, create or edit a new or existing page or post and either type or paste the shortcode inside the content area …

Short Codes

Publish your page or post and you should see the list showing in the location where you added the shortcode …

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 create and add a to-do list in WordPress.


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