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 To Do Lists In WordPressIf you are running a fast-paced business, there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get everything done.

There is just so much work to do and things to remember. You have deadlines to meet, project tasks to complete, priorities to attend to, fires to extinguish, calls and appointments to make, commitments to keep and so on. The amount of things that need to get done never ends.

Now … add the extra dimension of trying to promote and grow your business online and keeping your website updated with new content and everything can start to become unmanageable and out of control.

Whether you run a business, website, blog, or manage a team, it’s important to be able to organize and manage your day.

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

The Benefits Of Using A To-Do List

A “to do” list helps you track your progress as you work to get tasks completed. Your to do list can be very detailed and specific, or act as a 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:

Keep Things Organized

A to do list helps you create order, stay organized and reach goals sooner.


By creating and organizing a to-do list, you can break your workload into doable tasks and formulate a strategy to get tasks completed on budget and on time.

Keep Work Logs

A to-do list lets you keep documented logs of what has been done. This can be used to provide evidence of work done to clients or employers, or just as a method of helping you monitor your own productivity and efficiency.

Relieve Stress

Stress can result from feeling overwhelmed by so much to do and so little time to do it in. Using to-do lists let you work on urgent tasks that need to get done immediately, and push out tasks that can be worked on at a later time. This can reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed and help to relieve some of the stress you may be feeling.

Better Delegation Of Work

Having a to-do list helps you delegate tasks to other people better. This is also important if you plan to work with others (see further below).

As you can see, there are many benefits to using to do lists, both in business and in your personal life. Creating a to-do list, prioritizing tasks and working systematically 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 step-by-step tutorial you are going to learn how to create a to do list in WordPress to improve business efficiency and productivity using a customizable, multi-featured to-do list plugin for WordPress called Cleverness To-Do List.

Cleverness To Do List

Cleverness WordPress plugin to-do lists

Download URL


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


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

You can set up Cleverness To-Do List to have private to-do lists for individual users, to have all users share a to do list, or to have a master list with individual item completions.

The shared to do list has a variety of settings available. You can assign to-do items to specific users (this includes a setting to email a new to do item to users) and optionally to have those items be seen by that user. You can also assign different permission levels using capabilities. 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 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 site. There are two short codes for front-end list administration. Category management is accessed via the back-end admin section.

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

Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Installation

In your WordPress admin area, select Plugins > Add New

WP Plugin Add New

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

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

Locate the item in the Search Results section and click Install Now

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

Activate the plugin after installing it …

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

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

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

Once you have activated the plugin, click on Settings

Cleverness to-do list plugin WordPress - to-do list plugin Cleverness - 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 …

Cleverness to do lists plugin - To Do List > Settings

This takes you to the ‘Settings’ page …

Cleverness - To-Do List Settings Tab

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

How To Set Up The Plugin

The Settings area is divided into four sections:

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

Let’s take you through each of these sections.

To-Do List Settings

to do list plugin Cleverness - 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 is added to the To-Do List menu …

Cleverness plugin WordPress - To-Do List Categories Menu

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

plugin to do lists - To-Do List Categories > Add New Category

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

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

List View

List View lets you choose how to-do lists will be viewed. You can select 3 to do list views:

  • Individual – Use this option if you want each user to be able to create and manage their own private to-do list.
  • Group – Use this option if you want all users to be able to share one to-do list.
  • Master – Select this option to create a master list for all users, where users have their own individual items to complete. If you select the ‘Master’ list view, make sure to adjust the User Permissions appropriately in the ‘User Permissions’ tab (see further below).
Sort Order

Cleverness to do lists - To Do List Sort Order

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

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

Show Added By

If enabled (‘Yes’), you can display which members have added an item to your to-do list.

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

Show Date Completed

If this option is enabled (‘Yes’), completion dates will display for your to-do tasks.

Show Deadline

If this option is enabled, you will be able to specify deadlines for to-do tasks …

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

Show Progress

If this option is enabled, you can specify task progress indicators for your to-do items …

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

Show Admin Bar Menu

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

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

Use WYSIWYG Editor

If this option is enabled (‘Yes’), you will be able to add and edit items on your to-do list using the WordPress WYSIWYG Editor

to do lists plugin - 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 collaborative site or blog, you can integrate the Cleverness To Do List plugin with a plugin called WordPress Post Planner, developed by the same author that helps to make the process of managing a multi-author WordPress site easier …

WordPress Post Planner

To learn more about using this handy plugin, go here: WordPress Post Planner – Multi-Author Publishing Plugin For WordPress

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

WordPress save changes

Advanced Settings

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

Cleverness to do list - Advanced Settings Tab

This brings you to the ‘Advanced Settings’ section …

Cleverness plugin WordPress to-do list - Advanced Settings

In this screen you can customize your To Do lists, assign to-do tasks to other 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 allows you to customize your To Do List …

plugin to-do list Cleverness - Advanced Settings Tab - 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 in your todo lists (e.g. month/day/year, day/month/year, etc.)

Note: To learn more about formatting dates in WordPress, visit the relevant section of the WordPress Codex below:

WordPress Codex – Formatting Date And Time

Priority Labels

This section lets you customize the labels for highest (important), middle (normal) and low priority items …

Cleverness - Priority Labels

Items prioritized as “important” are colour-coded in red in your lists and lowest priority items display in a lighter shade of grey …

Cleverness plugin - sort by priority

Show To-Do Item ID

If enabled, the items’ IDs will show on the list …

Cleverness - Item ID

Show Date To-Do Was Added

If enabled, the date your to-do list was added shows up on the items table …

to-do list Cleverness - Date Added column

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 items to other users …

Cleverness plugin - 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

If this option is enabled (‘Yes’), you can assign tasks to other users …

plugin to do lists 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 assigned those items. Leaving this option disabled (‘No’) displays to-do items to all users.

User Roles to Show

Checking the boxes in this area Contributor displays the type of users that can be assigned todo items. If you don’t want to assign to-do items to a specific role, then leave its check box unticked.

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 …

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

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

Note: If this option is disabled, skip the 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 …

WP plugin to do lists - Add Category to Subject

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

If you don’t want to show to-do categories in the email subject, then leave this option disabled (‘No’).

Show Who Assigned the To-Do Item in Email

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

Cleverness plugin WordPress - To Do Item Email From Field

From Field for Emails Sent to User

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

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

From Email

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

Cleverness to do lists - 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 sent out automatically to users whenever new items have been assigned in your to-do list …

Cleverness plugin to do list WordPress - 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 - Text in Emails Sent to User

To-Do List Advanced Settings > Database Cleanup

In this area you can carry out database maintenance tasks associated with plugin data directly from your plugin settings area itself …

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

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

The following tasks can be performed:

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

Useful Info

Actions that you perform on the database from this screen cannot be undone. If you are comfortable to proceed with any of the database operations available in this section, then remember to backup your WP database first.

If you don’t want to perform your own site backups, then get help from a WordPress professional, or use WordPress backup plugins. You can learn more about a WordPress backup plugin that we recommend using to automate file and database backups here:

User Permissions

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

Cleverness plugin to-do list - User Permissions Settings Tab


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

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

WordPress to do list plugin - User Permissions Tab - View To-Do-List

The default general capabilities of each user role are set as follows:

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

Note: When using the Master list type make sure that you only authorize non-administrators to view and complete items, otherwise they will have the ability to edit the Master list itself.

to-do lists Cleverness - User Permissions Tab

Here is a description of the settings in this section:

View To-Do List

Here you can permit 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

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

Edit To-Do Item Capability

Here you can allow the selected capability to edit existing items.

Assign To-Do Item Capability

Here you can allow the chosen capability to delegate to-do items to individual users.

View All Assigned Tasks Capability

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

Delete All To-Do Items Capability

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

Add Categories Capability

Here you can permit the selected capability to add new categories.


The ability to import and export to-do list data can be useful. For example, you may decide to copy over data from an existing to-do list to another website, or export the list data for backup or archiving purposes.

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

to-do lists Cleverness - Import/Export

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

plugin to do list Cleverness - Import/Export Settings

Exporting To-Do List Data

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

Cleverness plugin WP - Import/Export - Import/Export Settings Section - Download Export File

This opens up a window allowing you to download and save the data in a plain text file (e.g. Notepad) to an internal or external hard drive …

Cleverness to do lists plugin - Import/Export Settings - 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 main menu and selecting Tools > Export

WordPress Tools > 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 just select ‘To-Do’ from the ‘Choose what to export’ section and click the ‘Download Export File’ button to save your file to a storage medium…

Tools > Export WordPress Menu - Export 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 …

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

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

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

After the data file has been uploaded to your settings area, click the ‘Import Settings’ button …

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

Your file will be imported.

Once you have configured all plugin settings, you are ready to begin create and edit to do lists.

How To Use The Plugin

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

to-do list plugin - To-Do List Menu

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

Cleverness to-do list - To-Do List screen

Adding New To-Do Items

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

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

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

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

Cleverness plugin WP - Adding New To Do Items

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 further down the screen) …

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

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

Depending on how you have set up your plugin, some options may not display when adding 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 item to your list …

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

Note: If you have selected a list type that lets you assign tasks to users, select a user from the drop-down list and assign them the item …

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

After you have added the item, it will be listed as an entry in the ‘To-Do List’ table …

Cleverness - Adding A New Item To Your To Do List

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

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

Editing And Deleting Items

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 set up the plugin (see previous section), users assigned to completing tasks may also receive email notifications …

Cleverness to-do lists plugin - Email Assigned To Do Items to User

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

Cleverness to-do lists plugin - View To-Do List User Dashboard

When users responsible for completing an item click on the item checkbox …

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

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

WordPress to-do list plugin - Completed To-Do List Item

And appears in the ‘Completed Items’ table located in the ’To-Do List’ screen …

Cleverness to-do lists - Complete To Do Item

Additional Plugin Information

The Cleverness 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 short codes.

Using The 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 menu location where you would like the list to appear …

Cleverness plugin WP to-do list - Using The Plugin Widget

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

WordPress plugin to do list - Widgets

Your to-do list will display on your site where you have inserted the widget (i.e. the sidebar menu, footer, etc.)

plugin to do list Cleverness - Widgets

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

Using The Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Short Codes

You can also add lists and checklists to your site by inserting short codes into your content.

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

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

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

to do list plugin Cleverness - Using Plugin Short Codes

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

Using The Cleverness Plugin Shortcodes

This section explains different ways to configure and use short codes for displaying lists and checklists on your content.

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


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


To learn more about this plugin, go here:

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


"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now


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