What bothers me about Workflowy

September 04, 2022

Quite a long time ago, I googled for “nested list making tool”, never having heard the word outliner. The search results brought me to Workflowy, which allows you to infinitely nest bullets and even zoom in on nodes to start new documents way down in the tree.

I loved it. It’s such a great tool.
But sooner than later I ran into some limitations. My thoughts just weren’t structured in exactly that way.

Sometimes I wasn’t sure where to put information.
To borrow an image of Thunk Notes:

Image by Thunk Notes

I might for example once have set up a structure where I store a list of articles I want to write under Formable/Marketing/Articles-to-Write. One day I’d think of an article that isn’t for Formable, so what do I do? Create a second Articles-to-Write list? Sure, one could have used tags in Workflowy, but that didn’t offer infinite nesting.
It’s more powerful when items can truly live in multiple places, and multiple structures can share some parts.

While Workflowy’s tree structure is easy to understand, it’s limiting too.
As Christopher Alexander wrote, “A City Is Not a Tree”.