Intro to ClickUp’s Structure | ClickUp Hierarchy for Beginners

In this video, ClickUp Consultant Layla at ProcessDriven goes over the ClickUp Hierarchy for beginners, showing you how you can take those overflowing filing cabinets and notebooks, and turn them into an efficient, multi-layered Workspace – that’s flexible enough to build around your home or work life.

You’re “an old school pen and paper” type. We get it. We used to be too! Until we discovered the wonders of digital task management – specifically, the ClickUp Hierarchy.

But where do you start? How do you get ALL of that information you’ve got spread across sticky notes and honey-do lists and put it into a digital task management tool like ClickUp?

Let’s dive in.

ClickUp Hierarchy for Beginners

It’s worth mentioning, that everything we’re about to talk about can be applied to virtually any available task management system.

However, unique to ClickUp, is the ClickUp Hierarchy.

Let’s compare the old with the new, shall we?

To put it simply:

  • We start with a physical piece of paper, where we would once house our list of to-dos and lists.
    • Those to-dos are comparable to Tasks in ClickUp.
    • Then, to-dos on your list that are broken up into smaller, more manageable to-dos, are referred to in ClickUp as Subtasks. (For example, “Clean the House” would be considered a Task, then each room that needs cleaning would then be Subtasks.)
  • Once that pile of paper lists of to-dos starts to grow bigger, we’d probably group those lists into physical folders.
    • Much like physical folders, Folders in ClickUp act as containers for those Lists, Tasks, and Subtasks.
  • As our responsibilities continue to pile on, we may end up with multiple folders. One for work, one for home organization, one for each project, etc. Most likely, we’d then house all of those folders in a designated place like a filing cabinet.
    • A filing cabinet is comparable to ClickUp Space. A designated area that holds all of the Folders, which then categorizes each set of Lists, Tasks, and Subtasks.

So to recap:

  • A physical paper list of to-dos = ClickUp Tasks and Subtasks
  • A physical folder that groups those to-dos and lists = ClickUp Folders
  • A filing cabinet that then organizes those folders = ClickUp Spaces

(Layla goes into detail on how exactly to organize those physical lists, to-dos, folders into ClickUp Spaces at 02:42.)

Cons to a Paper-based System

We’re here to show people who are on the fence when it comes to ditching their ballpoint pens and scribbled on napkins JUST how easy it can be to make the switch to a much more efficient way of getting things done.

If you’re currently using a paper-based system, we probably don’t have to tell you just how inefficient it can be. But just in case you need some convincing, here are some cons we’ve experienced when working with that pile of folders and paper to-do lists.

  • Adding Notes and Changes: as a project progresses, most likely you’ll make changes to the process, or maybe notes on what can be done better the next time you tackle this project.
    • This can create problems in keeping everyone on the same page, and may lead to you at your team meeting saying “but I sent you a memo!”
  • Divisions of Responsibility: who’s in charge of the project in that folder? Is it whoever has it in hand at that moment? What about each individual task? Is that your responsibility or theirs? Who officially crosses off those to-dos when they’re done? What about the subtasks?
    • As teams change and grow, or a project gets passed between departments, the distinction between who’s responsible for what can very quickly become unclear if you’re not thorough enough.
  • Permissions: with a paper-based system, it can be difficult to filter who exactly has access to that information.
    • If you leave that pile somewhere it shouldn’t be, it’s not password-protected, and can be difficult to label as “for your eyes only”.
    • It can be tough to pass that information back and forth between the people who actually need it. (Like that time you did a u-turn in rush hour traffic because you took off with that important folder in your bag. We’ve been there.)
  • A Lag in Communication: with a paper-based (or even email-based) system, it’s likely that there will come a time when what your team is seeing in their hand (or inbox) by the time they get to it – isn’t what’s now happening in real-time. (Looking at you “guy who only checks his inbox once a day”!)
    • This can cause mix-ups in what has been completed or not completed. Which can then lead to pieces falling through the cracks, or a single task being worked on by multiple people.
  • Tracking Activity: as projects become more complex, it can become difficult to tell who actually did what.
    • Who made those changes to the SOP? Did that person ever follow-up on that question? Who actually completed that task? If someone forgets to make note of any progress as it happens, that line of communication can start to unravel – and fast.

Moving to a Task Management System

So we’ve gone over the cons of a paper-based system. You’re convinced. Now let’s go into how you can take that chaos we just explained above, and actually turn it into a manageable, efficient way to get things done.

  • Adding Notes and Changes: in a task management system like ClickUp, you have the opportunity to add descriptions, attachments, subtasks, and checklists — DIRECTLY into the Task itself.
    • This keeps everything in place, nicely nested together for quick reference.

(Check out the video at 09:14 for a step-by-step of how to add descriptions now, to save yourself time later.)

  • Divisions of Responsibility: in ClickUp, you can easily assign individual Tasks and Subtasks directly to any member of your team.
    • This gives clear lines of responsibility and creates a clear plan of who’s going to tackle what tasks.

(Check out the video at 14:07 for details on how to add assignees and even create Automations within ClickUp to simplify your workload that much more.)

  • Permissions: with a cloud-based tool like ClickUp, you have the option to share Tasks publicly, share view-only versions of a Task, give certain permissions to specific people on your team, or make it completely private.
    • This completely eliminates the risk of sensitive client or proprietary information making its way into the wrong hands.
    • This also keeps others focused just on what they need to know to complete their assigned tasks, without having to thumb through irrelevant pages trying to find what’s meant for them.

(Layla goes into detail about the differences between sharing tasks publicly, and sharing and permission inside ClickUp at 14:19.)

  • No Lags in Communication: right inside each Task in ClickUp, you’ll find the option to message, tag team members directly, assign due dates and add Watchers.
    • Having the ability to give real-time updates right inside each Task eliminates the go-between formats depending on each person’s preference and assures that everyone viewing that task will be caught up on all changes and updates.

(Watch the video above at 15:32 to see how a project can benefit from adding due dates, how to assign Watchers, and how to keep everyone in the loop in real-time.)

  • Tracking Activity: arguably the biggest benefit to switching to a Task Management System.
    • Within the same area of ClickUp where you’ll find messages in each Task, you’ll also see a Change Log.
    • Meaning you can see who did what, when they did it, how much time they tracked inside that Task each day, and any other relevant updates that were made.
    • So no more memos and “I promise I did that yesterday!” claims from your teammates. If there’s ever any confusion, you can easily reference an entire backlog of what’s happened within each Task.

And that’s it! We’ve compared how working in a paper-based system can fall short of all of the features you have available when working in task management system like ClickUp. We’ve explained how the ClickUp Hierarchy can work very similarly to a physical list, folder and filing cabinet.

Now it’s up to you to ramp up your efficiency and make the switch.

Trust us, it’ll be so worth the jump.

Until next time, enjoy the process.


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Layla is a Vetted ClickUp Consultant who helps growing teams define their business workflows and translate them into a business instruction manual inside ClickUp. She spends most of her days teaching ClickUp, creating content, and providing unlimited feedback within the ProcessDriven Membership. The rest of the time? She's focused on creating value over on her YouTube Channel and free Facebook Group.