Dynalist Ideas // Use Cases

I feel as though one thing that may limit sharing and showcasing, is how personal and private some notes can be.

What are some ways that you use Dynalist?

Here are some ideas that I came up with that one could use Dynalist for. What mainly inspires them is a comment on the Workflowy blog about how someone started to unclutter their Workflowy with Workflowy, then used Workflowy to unclutter their life.

So without further adieu, here are a few:

  • Managing a budget and expenses list and linking to an excel sheet. I have one for my digital subscriptions.

  • Write the details of your relationships with people; this suggestion opens a can of worms about ethics, privacy, and whatnot, but I believe that it can be used for good, to strengthen those relationships.

  • Make outlines of books that I’m reading, so that way I can relearn whatever I’ve forgotten.

  • Use it to replace my browser’s bookmarks, with helpful links around certain topics, which are easily accessible, thanks for search.

  • Instead of creating a website, writing a book or article, you can just make a Dynalist, and if it has enough information, then turn it into any of the above three.

For students:

  • Brainstorming for a paper or essay
  • Paraphrasing things and breaking down complex ideas
  • Putting the links you need together for a paper
  • Pasting in a rubric or essay guideline and then writing the required items below each one (obviously some things will apply globally to that paper or essay)
  • When answering a set of questions or taking notes, you can keep track of the pages you found answers/supporting material to them (and in what books).

I’ll add more as they come to mind. [Last updated #161130]


For me. Journals are a big thing. In particular, I keep a daily log of work I completed each day, Basically a List of years > month > and date (using the nice date format). Then a list of the different projects I’ve worked on through the day, if multiples usually proceeded by their own hash tag.

I will also keep an individual project document for each project with the details of it, be it specifications or account credentials or references to API etc depending on the various projects.

I keep a similar list for a daily journal in my personal life as well, or to track something I need to daily (though can’t get into details on it).


I’ve been thinking about doing that, but have been finding it difficult to find stuff to write about. I think I’ll try what’s suggested here: Journaling is Annoying. Here’s What I Do Instead — Todd Brison

Ah, that’s what I initially used Dynalist for, to write specs for projects.

Right, which is why I’m glad I made this thread! The first one is definitely good for building one’s resume/CV.

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In the spirit of an offline brain, I have a ‘Dump‘ document which is jus a huge, flat list of titles/keywords, each containing useful stuff. For example:

  • Background / Stock Music
  • Themes / Color Combinations for Presentations
  • Favorite Movies
  • OS X Karabiner configuration
  • GIF creation website

With that last example, I’m essentially replacing browser bookmarks, as @JP1 mentioned s/he does (@JP1, what are your PGPs?).

I think I’m trying to recreate a concept I saw in this really cool app called Notational Velocity: billions of invisible, little, keyworded notes.


I actually don’t have any PGP keys (that I have saved anywhere or from a program in which you’d share your public key to chat/message each other), although I probably should use some clients besides Signal for end-to-end encryption. Unless you meant something else entirely.

That looks pretty cool. It’s kind of like having a search engine for one’s mind.

Pretty sure that Yatharth meant “Preferred Gender Pronouns” :wink:

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Ah, ok, then I identify as an Omniscient Space Waffle (I have no idea if that’s a word in UrbanDictionary, I just made that up).

I used to use Notational Velocity back when I still own a Mac. It was pretty good for storing random short notes.

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I have been working on adapting the bullet journal format to (first workflowy and now) Dynalist. The bullet journal idea is pretty unstructured and I found it far more useful for logging my life as well as tracking projects than anything else I tried. The key to adapting it for online and Dynalist is to do dates in reverse - like a LIFO stack. That way you can just start and push older dates down. Bullet journals have a concept of collections and those are straightforward since they are just lists.

Here is the structure of the journal part of my main dynalist

Future list
Daily Activities


I use priorities as a header per day because I subscribe to the 1-3-5 task list concept and that’s where those go. Currently tasks is just a freeform dump of upcoming tasks that get sorted into the priorities for a day the night before. I may drop it though since it should come out of other more long term task lists really. The log is a report of the day just added at the end of the day and reflections/gratitude is just a practice I am trying to do. THe point is you can have any set of standard subheads under a day you want and just drop them into the new day you add every evening at the top.

Future list is menat to be priority dates more than a month out.

The month heading has the following under it

1 S: workout tth write spanish
2 M: workout tth write spanish
3 T: workout tth write spanish
4 W: workout tth write spanish
5 Th: workout tth write spanish
6 F: workout tth write spanish
7 S: workout tth write spanish **J bridal shower, gallery 3PM 1890 Banyan **
8 S: workout tth write spanish J Marin gathering,


this requires some explanation - - I am not using the built in dates because I haven’t really figured out how to incorporate them yet. I put the first thing in each day a set of standard things - these are habit chains that I am trying to track. In dynalist the ** makes items bold. So I include the items as the first thing in every day and ** to bold them IF I did that item that day. Then I can glance at the month and get a visual vertically of if I am forming habit chains. Then the specific reminders for a day go after that in bold so they stand out.

I actually put my WHOLE dynalist in one document as follows




Temp Notes

and then dig down as needed. Reference includes templates for the habits and dates and a symbol library and some other stuff. Archive is where anything goes that is old enough to not be needed for the future. Projects are my lists and collections (buried in there are about 40,000 words of notes for example)

This is still a work in progress and I will come back with a better explanation once it is settled

note that in this forum some of the markdown has come through and some has not so my apolgies for odd formatting


That’s interesting, I haven’t seen this use case before!

Yeah, some formatting has gone crazy! :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks. The idea came to me when I was thinking about the process and entering new information. You want to have the current stuff at the top where you can see it and act on it easily. Once I have everything sorted I’ll make a template that other people can copy.

My only concern is about performance as the document gets large but having seen some of the insanely large examples I am less worried now.

You could always move the previous year stuff to an archived document, I guess.

A document can hold us to 10,000 items with no problem. Recently some users have also written to us about their huge document being faster, so don’t worry :slight_smile:

I use Dynalist to keep a list of all my routines and chores around the house. I also use Dynalist as an outliner for writing school papers. I also use Dynalist to keep track of my daily schedule, and the color coded feature makes it really nice to distinguish between different items, like the times when I am in class vs. or when I am studying or appointments, etc. I can easily see the gaps in my schedule when I can put in more time for getting things done or if I need to take a break. Dynalist is a great tool, and I love using it.


That’s great to hear, Cynthia.

For journaling, I am using a premade TextExpander snippet so I only have to type two entries in a document to get started.

First I type jh@ (journal header) which creates 'My journal for Saturday Feb, 18 2017 – 18:23 PM"
Next I type jb@ (journal body) which creates the following template:

Today is Saturday, February 2017

The four criteria that you will use to decide what to do are (in order of precedence):
1. Context (what can I do where I am?)
2. Time (when do I have to do something else?)
3. Energy (how wasted/fresh am I?)
4. Priority (what has the highest payoff for me if I do it?)

What’s On My Mind?

History: What Happened Today?




Spiritual Insight:

I only fill in what I feel like entering so it’s a low energy task that can help me track the things I really care about.


I like it, very automated!

You could also have a template list and just Ctrl+Drag it to make copies. Just an idea.


I’ve been using Evernote since when it was still an endless “roll” of paper:

For those with Evernote now it may come as a surprise that this free program did OCR locally, no web required, had permanent note links (not the GUID-based ones from nowadays which break when you export & import an ENEX file), had links to categories/tags, and auto-filtering, if you wanted it, to automatically assign categories/tags to notes. 10+ year later the new owners still haven’t been able to get feature parity with the program they bought and then replaced…

The CTRL ALT N shortcut on Windows to make a quick new note has been my main way of journaling all those years. Lots of little notes “doing this”, “X goes to Y”, “X back from Y”, “Z called” etc.

I’ve tried to leave Evernote a couple of times but have so much diary/journal-like notes in there, so much personal stuff, that there is no ROI in moving elsewhere with that.

So… No journaling in Dynalist :smiley:

But apart from that? Everything. If it isn’t a journal-like update, it goes into Dynalist.

  • short term task list
  • projects list
  • brain dump
  • notepad/scratchpad

  • composing texts, from articles to letters → because outlining is the best way to write, and the ability to drag stuff around is powerful
  • bible study notes
  • checklists → winter/spring cleaning, packing lists, travel to do’s etc
  • information → clothes sizes for ppl I shop for, alt numpad codes, tax info, etc
  • how-to → if I look it up, I add it here. How to change the note indicator icon in Bonsai? How to fix the totally blank login screen for Google Photos Backup? How to do INSTRING in Excel?
  • research → going to buy XYZ but which? What’s the legal status on ABC?
  • recipes → I clip recipes to Evernote. Much faster. Anything I tried and like gets the tag “menu”. Every now and then I run a saved search “notebook:recipe -tag:menu” to find stuff I haven’t tried yet. When a recipe is a success I bullet list it in Dynalist. Much cleaner, much easier, and I get to edit the recipe right away. Some recipes seem to be composed to either complicate things (“stir the dry elements in 1 cup, stir the wet elements in another, add them together in a 3rd cup” …uh…no) or to sabotage you (“…then add the wet ingredients. … Before adding the wet ingredients, cool the recipe for…” oops, too late)
  • wishlists → I know Evernote is great for this too but a simple overview, a bullet list, of things someone has said they like over time…much more powerful

  • work queue
  • client information → who are they, what is their contact info, what did we do when, etc
  • people info → who is who? What’s their extension?
  • work wiki → if I have to figure out how to do it and it’s not about general software or how to debug a toaster oven, it most likely ends up here.
  • bookmarks/software → I come across a lot of solutions for problems I might have one day. I like to take note of them :slight_smile:

This will come soon! We’re probably going to call it “capturing” rather than “journaling”, but it’s the same thing :slight_smile:

And I’m in awe of the Evernote screenshot right now. Didn’t know it used to look like this!


Ahh yes the old Evernote 2 which is now replaced “sorta” by CintaNotes. Good times.

Anyways I currently have a bookmark dump so I second that.

Working on chapters for my book.

Have a Self-Critique Journal which includes Delayed Projects, Set Aside Projects, Overlapping Projects and Personal Thoughts. (I use the document names to set the main item.)

Example: Delayed (insert name of book)

Separating some of my bookmark dumps into:

Core Software lists
Old Storage Lists

Have a Concepts Simplified list that used to be in my Wunderlist in case that service shuts down listing my personal philosophy in life as well as the things I’ve come across in self-help books.


Very interesting @ruud. A big limitation with Evernote for me is its messy HTML. The web clipped creates a double-lined note and there’s no way to make it single-lined (this has been a complaint on Evernote forum for years - if only they were as responsive as Dynalist).

You can have indented bullets, but there’s no way to move the bullets around easily. This cancels Evernote out as an outliner. Its main virtue is the capacity to dump notes which can be searched.

The plain text format of Dynalist and Workflowy is a great virtue.

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