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 Tutorials - How To Create A To Do List In WordPressIf you plan to run a growing business or manage any kind of project that requires people to work as a group, time always seems to be in short supply.

There is just so much work to do and things to remember. You have deadlines to meet, urgent tasks to complete, meetings to attend, fires to extinguish, calls and appointments to make, commitments to keep and so on. The “doing” never stops.

Now … on top of all this, add the extra workload of promoting and growing your business online and maintaining your website updated with fresh content and everything suddenly begins to feel unmanageable and out of control.

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

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

To Do Lists – Benefits

A “to-do” list can help to keep you on track and monitor your progress as you to get projects completed. Your to do list can be very detailed and very specific, or act as a concise reminder of the things that need to be done today, tomorrow, next week, next month, etc.

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

Free Your Brain

Creating to do lists means you won’t have to memorize stuff or clutter your brain with details. Once things are recorded on a to-do list, your brain is free to process other information and you can focus on things that are more important to you.

Save Time

Prioritizing tasks on your list helps you save time. You can gain a clearer perspective on what’s more important vs what isn’t, and what steps need to be completed first.

Reschedule Quickly

Having a to-do list helps you better deal with changes in circumstances. If an appointment suddenly gets cancelled or extra time is made available because some task was completed sooner than expected, you can quickly reschedule or reorganize and keep working with minimal loss of focus.


Without accountability there is no commitment to completion, and no motivation to take meaningful action. Lack of accountability lets excuses creep in and take over your productivity.

Working With Others

Using 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 a to do list, both in business and in your personal life. Creating a to do list, prioritizing tasks and working in a focused manner improves productivity and efficiency in your business.

What about using to-do lists on your website?

In this detailed step-by-step tutorial we are going to show you how to easily add a to do list to a WordPress website or blog to improve business efficiency and productivity using a great little plugin for WordPress called Cleverness To-Do List.

Cleverness To Do List

Cleverness plugin WordPress

Download The Plugin

Plugin Description

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


Note: the plugin features described 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 each user, to have all users share your to do list, or to have a master list with individual item completions.

The shared to do list has a variety of settings available. You can delegate to-do items to specific users (this includes a setting to email a new to do item to assigned 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 included as well in the front-end administration.

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

If you plan to run a multi-author blog you can use this plugin to create custom to do lists for your post planners if you also download the Post Planner plugin.

Installing The Plugin

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

Add New WordPress Plugin

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

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

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

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

Click Activate Plugin

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

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

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

Once you have activated the plugin, click on Settings

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

Note: The ‘Settings’ screen can also be accessed by choosing To-Do List > Settings from the admin menu …

Cleverness plugin WP - To-Do List Menu

This takes you to the plugin ‘Settings’ screen …

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

Let’s go through the plugin setup process …

Setting Up The Plugin

The “To-Do List” plugin ‘Settings’ area is divided into 4 tabs:

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

Let’s review each of these tabs.

To-Do List Settings

Cleverness plugin WP - To-Do List Settings

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 plugin menu …

Cleverness - To Do List Menu Categories

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

to-do lists Cleverness - To Do List Add Category

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

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

List View

List View allows you to choose how your to-do lists will be viewed. There are three to-do list views you can choose:

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

Cleverness plugin to-do list - To Do List Settings Sort Order

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

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

Show Added By

Enabling this option (‘Yes’) lets you display which of your users has added an item to your to-do list.

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

Show Date Completed

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

Show Deadline

Enabling this option lets you specify deadlines for your to-do items …

to do list plugin - To-Do List Settings Deadline

Show Progress

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

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

Show Admin Bar Menu

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

Cleverness plugin WordPress - To Do List 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 WP - To-Do List WYSIYG Editor

Use Auto Paragraphs

If enabled (‘Yes’), automatic paragraphs are used to display content in your to-do list items.

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 that provides you with a complete WordPress editorial solution …

WordPress Post Planner - WordPress Plugin

Visit this site to learn more this plugin: WordPress Post Planner – Multi-Author Publishing Plugin For WordPress

After you are done configuring your plugin options in this section, click the ‘Save Changes’ button …

WordPress save changes

Advanced Settings

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

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

This brings you to the ‘Advanced Settings’ area …

WP plugin to do list - To-Do List Advanced Settings

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

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

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

Here you can customize your To-Do List …

Cleverness plugin WP - Advanced Settings Tab - Customize To-Do List Settings

The following settings can be configured in this section:

Date Format

In this area you can specify how to display dates on your to-do list (e.g. month/day/year, day/month/year, etc.)

Note: To learn more about formatting dates in WordPress, see 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, normal and lowest (low) items …

WordPress to-do list plugin - Priority Labeling

Items prioritized as “important” display in red in the lists and lowest priority items display in a lighter shade of grey …

to do list Cleverness - colour-coded priorities

Show To-Do Item ID

If this option is enabled, the items’ IDs show on your list …

to-do lists Cleverness - Item ID

Show Date To-Do Was Added

If this option is enabled, the date the to-do list was added will display on the table of items …

WordPress to-do lists plugin - Date Added

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

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

WP to do lists 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

Enabling this option (‘Yes’) lets you assign to-do items to other users …

Cleverness plugin WordPress - 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 this option is enabled, you can display tasks 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

Check the boxes in this area Author to display the type of users that can be assigned todo items. If you do not want to assign to-do items to a specific role, then don’t tick its check box.

Email Assigned To-Do Items to User

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

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

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

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

WP plugin to do list - Add Category to Subject

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

If you don’t want to show categories in the email subject, then leave this option disabled.

Show Who Assigned the To-Do Item in Email

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

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

From Field for Emails Sent to User

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

Cleverness - From Field for Emails Sent to User

From Email

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

to-do lists plugin - From Email

Subject Field for Emails Sent to User

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

WP to-do lists plugin - 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 area of the ‘Advanced Settings’ tab allows you to perform database maintenance tasks associated with plugin data inside the plugin settings area …

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

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

You can perform the following tasks in this section:

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


Any actions that you perform on the database 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 remember to backup your database first.

If you don’t want to do site backups, then consider hiring a professional, or use a WordPress backup plugin. You can read about a great WordPress backup plugin that can automate your backup process here:

User Permissions

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

to do list Cleverness - User Permissions Tab


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

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

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

The default general capabilities for each user role are as follows:

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

Note: When working with the Master list type non-administrator users should only be authorized to view and complete items, otherwise they will be able to edit the Master list.

Cleverness plugin WP - User Permissions Settings Tab

Let’s now review the settings in this section:

View To-Do List

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

Add To-Do Item Capability

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

Edit To-Do Item Capability

This permits the chosen capability to edit existing items.

Assign To-Do Item Capability

Here you can allow the selected capability to assign to-do 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 setting permits the selected capability to delete individual to-do items.

Delete All To-Do Items Capability

This allows the selected capability to purge all the completed to-do items.

Add Categories Capability

This setting allows the chosen capability to add new categories.


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

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

Cleverness plugin WP - Import/Export Settings

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

to-do lists Cleverness - Import/Export Settings

Exporting To-Do List Data

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

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

This will open up a new window allowing you to view or download the data in a plain text file (e.g. Notepad) to an internal or external hard drive …

Cleverness plugin to do lists WP - Import/Export - Export Settings

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

Export WP

You can include to-do list data in an export file (in XML format), either by selecting ‘All content’ (includes everything – pages, posts, etc…), or just select ‘To-Do’ from the ‘Choose what to export’ section and click on the ‘Download Export File’ button to save your file to an internal or external hard drive…

Tools > Export WordPress - Export To Do Data File

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now that you have configured all of the plugin settings, you are ready to start creating and editing your to-do lists.

How To Use The Plugin

To create a new to-do list, log into your WordPress admin, then go to the menu and click on To-Do List > To-Do List

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

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

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

Adding A New Item To Your List

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

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

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

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

Cleverness to-do lists - Adding A New Item To Your List

You can click on the ‘Add New Item’ link in the ‘To-Do Items’ section (note: only use this option if your To Do list already contains many items, since the link will simply take you to the “Add New To-Do Item” section at the bottom of the screen) …

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

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

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

Set up 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 new to-do item …

Cleverness to do list - Add New To-Do Items

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

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

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

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

After the item has been added, it will display as an entry in the ‘To-Do List’ table …

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

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

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

Edit And Delete To-Do Items

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

Editing And Removing To Do Items From Your List

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

Cleverness plugin - Assigned To-Do Items Email

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

to do list Cleverness - View To Do List

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

WP plugin to-do list - Completed To-Do Item

… the item disappears from the “To-Do” list …

plugin to do lists Cleverness - Complete To Do Items User Dashboard

And gets listed the ‘Completed Items’ table located in the main screen of the ‘To-Do List’ plugin …

Cleverness to-do lists - Completed To Do List Items User Dashboard

Additional Plugin Information

The Cleverness plugin provides added functionality that lets you display to-do lists on your website using widgets, and add a list to any page or post using shortcodes.

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 would like your list to appear …

Cleverness plugin - Widgets

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

Cleverness - Using The Plugin Widget

Your to-do list will appear wherever you have placed the ‘to-do-list’ widget (e.g. the sidebar menu, footer, etc.)

Cleverness to do lists - Using The Cleverness Plugin Widget

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

Plugin Shortcodes

The Cleverness plugin also lets you create to-do lists to your site using short codes.

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

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

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

WP to-do list plugin - Using Plugin Short Codes

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

Using Plugin Short Codes

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

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

Using Plugin Short Codes

After publishing your page or post, you will see the list showing exactly where you have inserted the short code …

Using The Cleverness Plugin Short Codes

Visit the plugin website here for more details about this plugin:

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


"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.