WorkFlowy and the power of tracking and feedback loops for personal development

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Rarely have I learned to appreciate a digital tool as gradually in value and functionality as WorkFlowy. And the weird thing is, unlike TextExpanderTrello or Evernote, I am hardly able to explain why.

Most of the times, the people I work with are excellent indicators for the applicability of new tools. They usually wait six months and then see if I am still enthusiastic, to know if they’re going to integrate the tool into their workflow. But with WorkFlowy I get completely zero. Nothing, nada, zip. I am still enthusiastic, for over a year now, but they keep shrugging their shoulders.

Nevertheless, I would like to say to the readers of my newsletter that I think it is worthwhile to delve into it. I will once again try to explain again why I am so enthusiastic about this digital tool.

WorkFlowy is an online list. For local and shared use, on all devices. The slogan of WorkFlowy is 'Make lists not war'.

What is useful to keep in mind is that when it comes to computers, nothing is as fast as text-only files. Flat text and numbers can be processed by computers many times faster than items with pictures and other noise. One of the reasons for my enthusiasm is the extreme speed of the program. Not to be compared to something I saw before in my digital toolbox.

WorkFlowy is not just an online list. It is a list with sublists. Which can also contain sublists themselves. You can go as deep as 1000 layers if you want. The program also supports urls, and hashtags (# and @).

Every day again I am amazed by what you can do with those simple aspects. I mean: lists are useful, but lists 'on steroids' like these are indispensable. I feed WorkFlowy daily with information, which I can conjure out within a few seconds, at any time, wherever I am.

What do I use it for? What don’t I use it for, you should ask. I use it for my messages, tasks, wishes, jobs and lectures, as a research base, a reminder, an agenda, a notebook, for feedback loops, for my own development, for my mileage registration, my health log, my project management (Martijn-style), setting up new initiatives, and much more.

The lists I use most are the 'annual lists'. I’ve made a list that’s called 'years'. That list contains all years from my birth. And each of those years (all of which are also a list themselves) contains 52 weeks (all of which are a also list themselves). Each week list consists of 7 days and a 'week ending'. Every day contains items and questions that come by every day. This way I can easily find out what happened on which day; it’s a kind of logbook.

Agenda items also end up in the day lists, so they point out to me what needs attention on a particular day. Since I’m a lecturer, lectures often appear in my daily lists, which I provided with a template. ‘Catching’ feedback and useful information after my lecture is only a matter of a quick filling-in exercise this way. Sometimes weeks later I still get responses, by email or LinkedIn. I can simply attach them to the lecture in question, by copy-pasting them into the reactions-section. This way I create an organized system that enables me to easily find (almost) all reactions to each lecture.

For years I have been fascinated by the power of capturing data and information around me. Often I don't know why in advance, only to find out later. For instance, since a year I’ve been keeping track of the movies or series (including season and episode)I watch on Netlfix. Once a week I tag them all with the hashtag #netflix, so by clicking this hashtag in my 'yearlist 2018' I get a quick overview of the movies I watched and when I watched them. Very nice, but not very relevant. Until you come up with the idea of making a yearbook with all kinds of personal stats. Of course you don't do that yourself, you let someone with much better graphic skills do it for you, but based on the data you can quickly and easily get out of your system!

Talking about tracking, I found this text somewhere and it touches exactly what I wanted to say about it. I think it’s by Stephen Guise, author of the book Mini-Habits.


Why Tracking Improves Everything
Tracking enables analysis. You can’t analyze information that is either A) unclear or B) unknown. Tracking things defines them and makes them known. Analysis of good information brings ideas for progress. Many people are held back because they simply don’t know how to improve. They aren’t tracking their life enough! The more you track, the more you know about your situation, your behavior, and your projected future.

I really think that when you play with it for a while, a world will open up and you will realise how this tool can help with your personal development. In the next months I will try-out some WorkFlowy trainings. If you are interested in a one-on-one session about WorkFlowy, please fill in this form.

If you want to start right away, I have already created two year lists. After you create a Workflowy account and log in, you can copy the lists to your own account.

Have fun playing and discovering!

2018 (rest of the year per week and per day)

2019 (per week and per day)