Last Updated on June 26, 2022 by Stephanie
As someone who LOVES learning about how to be more productive and how to refine my systems, I take notice of recurring tools. One tool that kept popping up in my feeds on Instagram and Facebook was the Notion app and web-based platform. I looked into it and immediately dismissed it because I already had a system in place that worked for me.
Here’s the deal though, if you’ve read my post about checking your systems, you know that you really do need to check your systems often. If you don’t know what I mean by systems, check out this post about building your productivity systems.
So Notion kept popping up and had these awesome dashboards that people had created. It looked like they had entire systems inside this app. The more I saw, the more intrigued I became. I decided to try it out.
Here were my main takeaways:
- There is definitely a steep learning curve with this (but they do offer lots of tutorials online).
- If you are someone who likes spreadsheets and data in one place, this could be a game-changer for you.
- It isn’t really good for reminders or to-do lists in my opinion.
- For projects and planning, this is an AWESOME place to create a project manager.
- It’s free? Really?
Keep reading to find out more about this great app.
What is the Notion app?
Let me give you a quick rundown before I get into my takeaways from trying it out. Notion is essentially a workspace online. This workspace can house everything from to-do lists, text entries, pictures, videos, databases, and more. You create pages that can have a lot of different types of information on them and link it all together so everything is in one place.
If you use note-taking software like Evernote, it is similar to that. However, there are more features and customizations to it. One thing I like is that the Notion app can be as simple or as complicated as you would like it to be. You can seriously create massive pages with lots of information or you can create a simple page of tasks. That is why I mentioned that there is a bit of a steep learning curve to the Notion App.
I am a techie person. I love technology and getting new things and learning how to use new things. The Notion app took me a hot minute to figure out. I almost gave up. However, I know what my problem was. Instagram and Pinterest were my problems.
If you look up notion on either of those platforms or search Notion templates, you will see these awesome creations. When you look at these, that is what will draw you into using the app. Like I said above, it kept popping up in my feed and I was intrigued by what I was seeing. Then I got it and spent a little too long trying to figure out how columns worked and how I could have this on my page but hide it over here. How did this person put their picture on this page and why is this like this, etc.
The bonus is there are a lot of different templates available through them and also through other people that will help you get started. These templates, even if you aren’t planning on using them, can open your eyes to the different features and ways to create in the app. You have to be willing to play around with things and make mistakes to get out of it what you want.
If you just want it for tasks… it’s super easy. So, just like it says it can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Later, I’ll show you how I used it to create a one-stop-shop for my content calendar and workflow.
Spreadsheets Are My Friend
I love a good spreadsheet. Data is my friend and helps me keep organized. The Notion App has a very similar database-style to AirTable (which I was already using). If you don’t know about the AirTable database-style it is like Sheets or Excel on steroids. Anything you can want to do in a spreadsheet can happen, and it is drool-worthy amazing.
Color-coding, different types of cells, drop-down menus, and so much more can all be built into a spreadsheet. Then, the BEST part is the different views! Holy crap this is a game-changer for planning things. I could see so many different uses for these different views. You can view your data in a calendar, a traditional sheet, a board sorted by headers, and whatever way you can think of. Below are two ways I can view my Content Calendar just as an example.
Not So Good For Reminders and Master To-Do Lists – In My Opinion
If you are a lover of to-do lists, make sure you read my post about How to Create Effective To-Do Lists. Once you’ve read that post or if you already have, you know that I use an awesome app called ToDoist. I will continue to use ToDoist even after discovering Notion.
In my opinion, the Notion app is a great place for lists and checklists. It does not, however, have the integrations with calendars and automation that a really great app like ToDoist has. You can create the lists in the Notion App like a pro, but to my knowledge and playing around, it doesn’t have the ability to set your reminders or keep recurring tasks.
Projects and Planning – The Notion App Wins For This
Imagine you have a project going with a calendar of tasks and events. There are different documents you need access to regularly (all on different platforms of course). You want to set up different task lists for different steps of the project. There might even be some media like pictures and videos you need to frequently refer to. The Notion App can put all of this on one page for you.
The power of the Notion App comes from its ability to integrate different types of content into one place for easy access. Its power is also in the way it allows you to customize how you experience this content. You choose where and how you want the calendar displayed or what headings you want and where things are hidden or not. That’s where you get the increase in your productivity. It adapts to what you need and you can build the system you need to get those specific things done most efficiently.
Free? Wait, What?
It’s free for personal use. Like seriously. There are very few limits to personal accounts. When you want to add bigger files or add a lot of collaborators to something, that is when you will hit limits. Other than that… it is free. And it is cool.
How I’m Including the Notion App In My Systems
Right now, my systems fall into 3 separate boxes… personal, teaching (school), and Creating Time For Life. I have a digital planner (My Passion Planner Digital Weekly) that houses my personal stuff and goals, a paper planner for my business stuff, and a digital notebook for my school stuff. It all comes together in ToDoist because that is where my tasks are.
However, I’ve been finding with blog stuff that I have things in multiple places. My workflow is not flowing the way I want. I’ve got sheets in AirTable, I’ve got lists in digital notebooks, and I found myself even creating a task list for something I do often (listing a sticker pack on my site). When I saw what Notion could do, I realized that I could put all of that in one spot. This was what came out of that:
I’ve got my content calendar with multiple views, my master blog post list, my digital products master list, and my freebies master lists all as databases in this one-page view. Holy crap it is so much faster to scroll down instead of click around to different tabs or workspaces! I also was able to set up a button that would automatically create a special task list for things.
For example, I have a set of steps that I go through when I’m creating a sticker pack. I don’t need to put all of those steps in my planner or even in ToDoist. I put “Random Sticker Pack Listing” on ToDoist because I know I want to get that done this week. The individual steps are then in my task list in the Notion App right alongside where I’m going to enter information about the product into my database and schedule the content around the launch of that item. It’s awesome. I can create the task list with the click of a button and it goes away when I’m done with it.
AND… look at the gallery view of this database. I put all my freebies and their links and information in a database. I’m a visual person, so it is easier for me to look for the picture of the item than go through a worded list. Holy crap is that a cool feature!
All right, so I’ve told you my first impressions. I think it is worth looking into, but again, you need to allow yourself time to play with it. Don’t let the pretty templates that you see others creating overwhelm you. Think about what you need to help you be more productive and efficient with what you are doing. If you’re ever spinning your wheels about that, please reach out. Sometimes somebody outside your circle can help you figure out how to get from A to B without going in circles around it.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve used the Notion app at all and what you think!