How To Add To-Do Lists In WordPress

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

Creating A To Do List In WordPress

WP Plugin Tutorials - Creating A To Do List In WordPressIf you plan to run a fast-paced business, time is always in short supply.

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

Now … on top of all this, add the extra workload of promoting and growing your business online and keeping your website or blog updated with fresh content and everything can start to become unmanageable and overwhelming.

Whether you are running a business, website, blog, or managing a team, you need to be able to organize and prioritize your daily tasks, keep track of your progress and daily accomplishments, and, if necessary, assign responsibilities to others efficiently.

One simple “tried and true” method that can help you save time, create a sense of order and manageability, and allow you to take control is to use a “to do” list.

The Benefits Of Using A To-Do List

A “to do” list helps you measure your progress when working towards your goals. Your to-do list can be minutely detailed and very specific, or serve as a reminder of tasks that need to be done today, tomorrow, next week, next month, etc.

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

A To Do List Helps You Stay Organized

Having a to-do list helps you create order, keep things organized and reach goals faster.


Creating and organizing to-do lists helps you break down larger projects into more doable tasks and create a strategic plan for getting tasks completed on time and on budget.

Keep Documented Work Logs

A to do list lets you retain documented logs of what has been done. You can use this as evidence of work done to employers or clients, or just as a way of helping you track your own productivity and efficiency.

Stress Relief

Stress can result from feeling overwhelmed by so much to do and so little time to do it all in. Creating a to do list allows you to prioritize urgent things that need to get done immediately, and push out items that can be addressed at a later time. This can help you stress less.

Feeling Of Accomplishment

Crossing items off your to-do list gives you a sense of accomplishment and allows you to stress less, as you can objectively see (or show) that the work is getting done and that progress is being made.

As you can see, there are many benefits to using a to-do list, both in business and in your personal life. Create a list, prioritize your list items and work in a focused manner and productivity and efficiency in your business is sure to increase.

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

In this detailed step-by-step tutorial you are going to learn how to easily create to do lists in WordPress to help get things done online  faster and more efficiently using a great little plugin for WordPress called Cleverness To-Do List.

Cleverness To-Do List

Cleverness plugin WordPress to-do list

Download The Plugin

Plugin Description

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

Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Features

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

You can configure the plugin to assign private to-do lists for each user, to have all users share a 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 delegate to-do items to specific users (this includes a setting to email 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 also included in the front-end administration.

A new menu item is added to the admin backend to manage your lists and your to do lists can also appear on a dashboard widget.

A sidebar widget is available as well as shortcode to display the to-do list items on your site. There are 2 shortcodes for front-end list administration. Category management is accessed via the back-end admin section.

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

Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Installation

Inside your WordPress admin section, scroll down the main menu and click on Plugins > Add New

WP Plugin

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

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

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

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

Click “Activate Plugin” …

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

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

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

When the plugin has been activated, click on Settings

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

Note: You can also get to the plugin’s ‘Settings’ area by choosing To-Do List > Settings from the dashboard menu …

Cleverness to do list plugin - To-Do List Menu

This takes you to the ‘Settings’ screen …

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

The section below shows you how to configure the plugin …

Cleverness To-Do List Plugin Configuration

The plugin’s ‘Settings’ area is divided into 4 sections:

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

Let’s review each of these sections.

To-Do List Settings

to do lists 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 plugin menu …

to-do list plugin - 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) …

Cleverness plugin WP - To Do List Categories Section

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

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

List View

List View allows you to specify how lists will be viewed. You can choose three to-do list views:

  • Individual – Choosing this option allows each user to create and manage their own private to-do list.
  • Group – Choosing this option lets users share one to-do list.
  • Master – Select this option to create a master list for all users, where users have their own individual completion of items. If you select the ‘Master’ list view, make sure that you set the User Permissions appropriately in the ‘User Permissions’ tab (this is covered further below).
Sort Order

Cleverness plugin - To Do List Sort Order

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

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

Show Added By

Enabling this option lets you display which of your users 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 displays completion dates for your to-do items.

Show Deadline

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

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

Show Progress

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

Cleverness - To Do List Progress

Show Admin Bar Menu

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

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

Use WYSIWYG Editor

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

Cleverness plugin - WYSIWYG editor

Use Auto Paragraphs

If this option is enabled (‘Yes’), automatic paragraphs are used to display content in to-do lists.

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 plugin developer that provides you with a complete WordPress editorial solution …

WordPress Post Planner

To learn more this plugin, go here: WordPress Post Planner – Editorial Solution Plugin For WordPress

After configuring your plugin options in this section, remember to click the ‘Save Changes’ button …

WordPress save changes button

Advanced Settings

After configuring the settings in the To-Do List Settings tab, click on the ‘Advanced Settings’ tab to proceed …

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

This brings you to the ‘Advanced Settings’ section …

Cleverness to do lists - To-Do List Advanced Settings

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

Here you can customize your To Do List …

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

The following settings can be configured in this section:

Date Format

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

Note: To learn more about how to format dates in WordPress, see the relevant section of the WordPress Codex below:

WordPress Codex – Formatting Date And Time

Priority Labels

Here you can customize labels for important, middle (normal) and lowest (low) priority items …

to-do list Cleverness - Priority section

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

Cleverness plugin - Priority column

Show To-Do Item ID

Enabling this option (‘Yes’) displays the items’ IDs on the to-do list …

to-do lists plugin Cleverness - Item ID

Show Date To-Do Was Added

Enabling this option will display the date the items table was added …

Cleverness plugin to do list - sort by date

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 to do lists - To-Do List Advanced Settings > Assign To Do Items Settings

The following options can be configured in this area:

Assign To-Do Items to Users

Enable this option to assign tasks to other users …

Cleverness plugin WP - 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

If enabled, you can display items only to users who have been specifically assigned those items. Leaving this option disabled will display to-do items to all users.

User Roles to Show

Check the boxes in this area Contributor to display the type of users that can be assigned items. Leave the checkbox unticked for any roles that you do not want to assign to-do items.

Email Assigned To-Do Items to User

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

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

If you don’t want to send out emails to users, then leave this option disabled.

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 …

to-do lists plugin - Add Category to Email 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 categories to appear the subject of your emails, then leave this option disabled (‘No’).

Show Who Assigned the To-Do Item in Email

Enable this option (‘Yes’) to display the user who assigned the to-do item in the email. This option is useful if, for example, your website has a number of project managers assigning to-do items to users …

plugin to do list Cleverness - 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 to users. You can enter the name of your company, your domain, your name, or anything you like into this field …

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

From Email

Type in the email address that you want showing as the “sent from” address …

Cleverness plugin WP - From Email

Subject Field for Emails Sent to User

Add into this field a subject field for the email that will be automatically sent to users when a new item has been added to your to-do list …

to-do list plugin Cleverness - Subject Field for Emails Sent to User

Text in Emails Sent to User

Add into this field the body of the email message that will be sent out automatically to users when a new item has been assigned to your to-do list.

Cleverness plugin - Text in Emails Sent to User

To-Do List Advanced Settings > Database Cleanup

This section lets you carry out database maintenance operations associated with plugin data inside the plugin settings area …

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

This function is useful if, for example, you notice that to-do items you have already deleted are still appearing on your site.

The following tasks can be performed:

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

Important Info

Any database operations performed from this screen cannot be reversed. If you are comfortable to carry out database maintenance in this section, then make sure to backup your WordPress database first.

If you don’t want to do your own site backups, then get professional WordPress support, or use a backup plugin. You can learn more about a great WordPress backup plugin that can automate your site backups here:

User Permissions

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

WP to do list plugin - User Permissions Tab


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

Cleverness plugin - User Permissions - View To Do-List drop-down menu

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 perform for each option …

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

By 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 using the Master list type non-administrator users should only be allowed to view and complete items, otherwise they will be able to edit the Master list itself.

plugin to-do lists - User Permissions Tab

Let’s review the settings in the User Permissions 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 setting enables the chosen capability to mark to-do items as completed or not completed.

Add To-Do Item Capability

This setting allows the selected capability to add new to-do items.

Edit To-Do Item Capability

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

Assign To-Do Item Capability

Here you can permit the selected capability to delegate to-do items to individual users.

View All Assigned Tasks Capability

Here you can enable 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 chosen capability to delete individual to-do items.

Delete All To-Do Items Capability

Here you can permit the selected capability to purge all the completed items.

Add Categories Capability

This setting enables the selected 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 export the data for backup or reporting purposes.

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

to do list Cleverness - Import/Export Settings

Use this section to easily import and export your list data and plugin settings …

WP plugin to do list - Import/Export Settings Tab

Exporting To-Do List Data

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

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

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

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

As well as exporting list data from the ‘Import/Export’ tab, you can also export data by going to your admin menu and choosing Tools > Export

WordPress Menu Export

You can include to-do list data in an export file (in XML format), either by checking ‘All content’ (includes everything – 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 WP - To-Do Data

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 …

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

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

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

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

Cleverness plugin WP to-do lists - Import/Export - Import/Export Settings - Import To-Do File

Your file data will be imported.

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

Plugin Usage

To create a new to-do list, log into your WordPress admin, then scroll down the menu and select To-Do List > To-Do List

to-do list Cleverness - To-Do List Menu

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

Cleverness - To-Do List screen

How To Add New To-Do Items

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

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

plugin to-do list - Adding New Items To Your To Do List

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

Cleverness plugin - Adding New Items To Your 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 page) …

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

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

Depending on how you have configured the plugin’s 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, enter 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 …

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

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

Cleverness plugin WordPress - Assign To Do Items to Users

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edit And Delete Items From Your List

Depending on how you have configured your settings (discussed earlier), users assigned to completing tasks may also receive an email notification in their inboxes …

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

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

to-do lists Cleverness - View To Do List

When users responsible for an item complete the task and click on the item checkbox …

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

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

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

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

plugin to-do lists - Completed To-Do List Item

Additional Plugin Information

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

Plugin Widget

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

to do list plugin Cleverness - Using The Plugin Widget

Configure the widget settings and click ’Save’ …

Cleverness plugin - Widgets

Your list will appear where you have added the widget (i.e. the sidebar menu, footer, etc.)

Cleverness plugin WordPress to do list - Plugin Widget

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

Using The Cleverness Plugin Shortcodes

The plugin also lets you add to-do lists and checklists on your site by placing shortcodes into your content.

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

Cleverness to do lists plugin - To-Do List Menu

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

Cleverness plugin to-do lists - Plugin Shortcodes

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

Using Plugin Shortcodes

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

Once you know what information you would like to add to your site, open up a new post or page and either type or paste the short code into the content area …

Using The Cleverness Plugin Short Codes

After publishing your page or post, you will see the list displayed exactly where you added the short code …

Using Plugin Short Codes

For more information about this plugin, visit the plugin website:

Congratulations! Now you can create and add a to-do list to your WordPress site.


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