Blogging Workflow: Moving Editorial Calendar to Lists

When Lists launched as part of Microsoft 365 this past summer, one of the built-in templates included with it was a Content Scheduler. This template was the most interesting to me because, like I identify in my Website Content Workflow post, I currently use a table on a OneNote page to manage my editorial calendar.

So I decided to give this Lists template a try.

Creating the list is very easy. It’s a matter of clicking a few buttons, setting a name and a location and the list is created.

But I want to customize the list a little bit to use my terminology and workflow.

Customizing the List

The list comes pre-populated with nine fields, several of which I decided to customize:

  • Content Type
  • Content Image
  • Draft Due By
  • Publish By
  • Status

I also added a few columns to enhance my workflow.

‘Content Type’ to ‘Post Type’

Since the only thing I’m using this for is to track entries in my blog, I don’t need a “content type” column. But I do need a column to track the types of posts in my blog, so I changed this to “Post Type” and changed the options to:

  • Blog Post
  • Page
  • Portfolio
  • Event

I also changed this to only allow a single selection.

‘Content Image’ to ‘Featured Image’

I changed this to “Featured Image” to match the WordPress terminology.

‘Draft Due By’ to ‘Publish Date (Planned)’

My goal is to post a blog entry every month in both of my blogs. For this blog, my scheduled post date is the first Thursday of every month. At any given time I’m working on about four different blog entries, so having a “draft due” column isn’t useful to me. Knowing the planned publish date, however, is.

‘Publish By’ to ‘Publish Date (Actual)’

And sometimes I miss my publication goal, so I like to keep track of when I actually posted my blog entries.

Status Column

The choices included with the “Status” column didn’t match the statuses I’d developed for my workflow, so I changed them to what works for me:

  • Planned
  • In Progress
  • Final Review
  • Posted
  • Deferred


I added this column to be able to track content for both my blogs.


The slug is a three to four word phrase that succinctly describes the blog entry. It’s used by WordPress as part of the URL and I use it to create a folder for storing my Word document and any related graphics and images.

Customizing the View

Customizing and creating views of Lists are both very easy and very handy. The standard, default view is “All Items.” I edited that view order the entries by the “Publish Date (Planned)” column so the newest entries are at the top of the list.

I also created a view for the planned, in progress and final review statuses so I can quickly see where I need to focus my attention.

Lists also has a handy calendar view, but since I’m only posting two entries a month, it’s not particularly useful to me right now.

Creating a Folder

My Office 365 subscription includes access to Power Automate, Microsoft’s tool for automating tasks and workflows. Using the data from a few of my Editorial Calendar list columns, I created a flow that automatically creates the folder where I save content and assets for a specific blog entry. (An automation in Power Automate is called a “flow.”)

The flow concatenates the planned publish date column and the slug column to create the folder. For this entry, the folder’s name is entry – 2020-12-03 – editorial calendar to lists.

Power Automate is an incredibly robust automation engine. My folder creation flow, while a time saver for me, barely scratches the surface of its capabilities.

To List or Not to List…

Moving my editorial calendar from a clunky, manually created OneNote table to Microsoft Lists was very easy to do. And the functionality available in Lists makes it easy to quickly see where I stand in the writing of my blogs. So far, I really like it. And according to Microsoft’s Roadmap, they seem quite committed to the product. (An iOS app is slated for release in the next few months which will make working with lists even easier.) I see potential for Lists to replace other tracking tools I’m using, like Excel, for other areas of Brettro.

Update: The Bland Brettrospective

It’s been a minute since I posted about creating a new custom theme for, so I thought I’d post an update.

When I sat down and really started thinking about how I wanted to approach this, I realized how much had changed since I developed the last WordPress theme. I decided I wanted to keep up with and learn about as many of those changes as possible throughout the entire design and development process, so I’m tackling each step with intention and a willingness to learn.

Step 1: Develop a Design System

Design systems seem to be the natural evolution of atomic design and provide an incredible amount of detail from the vision of a design to the exact pixel dimension of a rounded corner on a button and just about everything in between. I want to do a deep dive into this, create one for Brettrospective and document what I learn along the way.

Step 2: Use a New Tool to Design the User Interface

In 2017 Adobe released XD, an app specifically for creating user interfaces for websites and apps. From the little bit of it I’ve used, it seems to be an incredibly useful and functional app and one that I can see becoming the de facto standard for creating and prototyping interfaces. I’m excited to dive in and learn this tool.

Step 3: Assess my Development Toolbox

I want to take a look at the tools I use to do my actual development work. I’m both very comfortable with and a huge fan of all the tools I use. I know that Panic, the makers of Coda have Nova , a new code editor, on the horizon and I am very excited about that. And I recently decided to start using GitLab instead of Github. So those are a few changes on the horizon.

Step 4: Develop the Theme

Even though the Brettro WordPress theme won’t be available for anyone to use, I want to develop it to the standard that would get it approved for posting on the WordPress theme directory. Making sure it takes advantage of the newest features of WordPress is an important learning moment for me, as is understanding what elements must be and should be included in a theme. I plan to use the underscores theme as my foundation.

I also want to give some thought to what CSS framework I might use. My previous theme used Bourbon and Bourbon Neat. Recently the folks who created both frameworks discontinued development on Neat and are encouraging people to use modern, native CSS features like Grid and Flexbox. They’re smart to do so and I’m excited to dive into those two CSS features as well.

Documenting It All

Like I said in my original post about this, I plan on documenting the things I learn, the challenges I face and the victories I achieve while creating this new theme. So stay tuned…


About nine months ago, I wrote about a strategic shift in the foundational elements Brettro will use to design websites for its customers. The rumblings about HTML5 were becoming louder, I had just finished deploying my first full-scale, medium size website using ExpressionEngine and I had deployed a handful of mediocre (on the coding side) WordPress sites. (They have since become less mediocre.) The benefit of using products with a solid, committed design, developer and fan base behind them, like ExpressionEngine and WordPress, really began to gel with me.

Platforms and Coding

My skill is in coding, my passion is in creating meaningful, usable user experiences and content, my “superhero strength” is managing projects and my “weakest link” is my design chops. Recognizing this, I decided it was time to step up my game and create a plan combining my skill, passion, “superhero strength” and “weakest link” into a functioning business strategy and workflow.

Step one:

  • professionalize my internal processes,
  • document coding standards for Brettro,
  • develop a sustainable platform for client documentation, and
  • really sink my teeth into merging my “mad coding skills” with the best practices for developing websites using both WordPress and ExpressionEngine.

In that time, and largely through Twitter, I have found an incredible and helpful community surrounding both EE and WP. I started more professional code management using Subversion (and an amazing Mac client called Versions). I have launched my HTML5 codebase. I have created nearly 13 WordPress plugins (and, in many cases, had to completely scrap and re-create them as I learned more and more about WP coding best practices).

In short, I’m well on my way to achieving my goals of becoming more familiar with and better at coding for two brilliantly executed, powerhouse web publishing platforms.

But there’s more to do…

Design, Design, Design

If anything has suffered through all this, it is the design of the Brettro web properties. They are certainly not horrible—and definitely don’t rank amongst the legacy 1996-era sites with all the visual appeal of an avocado green refrigerator—but they are my weakest link.

With comfortable knowledge of HTML5, Subversion and WordPress under my belt, it is time to focus on Step Two: creating a visually rich, responsive, usable, compelling interface for our websites. (The Brettro web properties use WordPress, but that’s a different discussion for a different time. Coming soon, though.)

I’m excited by this next step. Design has always been the biggest struggle for me. I understand the basic concepts, but the crippling self-doubt (which apparently plagues most of the design types I follow on Twitter) about the elegance and visual appeal of the concepts I develop keep me from executing my best work. It’s in there. I know it is. I just need to take a deep breath, walk away from time-to-time, and push through the doubt.

Soon enough you’ll see those efforts come to light. And your feedback will be important.

But there’s still more to do…

Content, Education, Engagement

This is the point where I become so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things I need to do, learn and participate in. But then I recognize how excited I am by all of it! And really, this batch of “more to do”—also known as Step 3–is really best done by intertwining it throughout the other efforts on a day to day basis:

  • Education in this arena never stops. And that’s one thing I absolutely love about it.
  • Strategically writing content for the web is such a compelling activity, especially with advocates (and professional heroes of mine) like Kristina Halvorson and Erin Kissane making such strong showings for its benefits
  • And Washington, DC has some absolutely brilliant programmers and designers with which to engage. I look forward to becoming an active and beneficial part of the community.

So, guess what? It’s time to get busy. Come back to read about and see the progress as it unfolds. It’s going to be exciting!