Notion: My Life Organization Tool
Disclaimer: I'm not using Notion for any team collaboration right now. I'm currently using it to organize my life - daily tasks, contact lists, book deadlines, idea generation, and ALL OF MY WRITING.
I've been raving about Notion for the past few months. My very persistent friend Grant convinced me that I needed to give it a chance. I'm so glad I did.
Notion's official tagline reads: Write, plan, & get organized in one place. People who write things on the Internet like to describe Notion as a mash-up of Google Docs, Evernote, Trello, and Todoist. This is accurate.
What they don't mention in the tagline (maybe they should!) is that Notion is also super fun to use - once you get the hang of it. There's a bit of learning curve, but after I watched a few quick Notion 101 videos, I was good to go.
Content is created in blocks and those blocks can be whatever you want them to be: text, image, checklist, bullet points, embedded code. Everything is so fluid.
As you'll see below, I also customize every page with a unique icon and header image. I use the icons to quickly scan my workspace and find what I need. And the header images just make the whole experience more pleasant. I like to like the environments in which I spend a bunch of time.
I've moved almost every aspect of my life into Notion. Being able to do - and organize - everything in one place has been a productivity game-changer for me. I never have to leave Notion. It has eliminated so many of the distractions I'd come across when transitioning from app to app.
I know what you're thinking. What's the downside? There is one - and it's a big one.
There's no API, which means you can’t integrate with other apps through Zapier, IFTTT, or Automate.io. This significantly limits its flexibility - and the ability to create complex workflows.
Even without the API, I still love it. Here's a quick overview of what my Notion setup looks like.
I have my life sectioned off into four silos: The Book, CMU, FMW, and Beetleback. You can see these highlighted, front-and-center, on my Dashboard page. I visit the Dashboard page first thing every morning. On top of all of the pertinent links, I embedded a filtered view of my Tasks database to display my Top Priorities This Week.
Every silo in my life has a main page where all of the links to all of the things live. I could just drop all of my thoughts and notes on the main page, but I like to create separate pages for most things. That way, I can add them to my FAVORITES list for super quick access.
YOU CAN TURN ANYTHING INTO A PAGE, ANYTIME.
Did you write a paragraph in a text block and then decide it should be it's own page? Transform that block into a stand-alone page (or an entire database), instantly. It's so easy. For example, from The Book main page, I can drill down into my Table of Contents page, where I track my Chapter Titles (which have been changing), the number of words in each chapter (so far), and a reminder of the Hook (opening story).
I decided to organize my book in a database - and every Chapter Title entry in the database links to the page where I'm writing and editing the chapter. Click on the chapter title to go to the page. If the page doesn't exist yet, create one instantly. It's been the best setup that's worked for organizing the book so far.
Oh man - this what makes Notion so fucking rad!
Databases help you structure information in Notion in a variety of ways — letting you organize, categorize, label, filter, search, view, and utilize it to get jobs done. Real quick, spreadsheet vs database.
A database is a series (i.e. 2 or more) interconnected spreadsheets. Each spreadsheet has columns and rows and they are connected using a primary key. By linking spreadsheets, you avoid having to enter the same information twice.
What makes databases so much more powerful than spreadsheets is that they can manage large amounts of inter-connected data while giving you the ability to query and filter the data based.
I have two main databases:
What makes databases so much more powerful than spreadsheets (and traditional note-taking apps like Evernote) is that they can manage large amounts of inter-connected data while giving users the ability to query and filter the data based on their specific situation and use cases.
I embed filtered versions of my All Contacts and Tasks databases in a bunch of my other Notion pages, showing only the data that makes sense for that page. Everything is in context!
Any database can be dropped into any page. Multiple databases can be dropped into a page. There are so many things you can do with these databases.
Seriously, Notion has been life-changing. If you decide to give it a try, let me know. I'd love to hear your thoughts! firstname.lastname@example.org