What you can expect from this article.
- What is Notion?
- Notion vs Traditional Systems?
- How I Notion
- How to get Notion
- Additional Resources
“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” — Anonymous
What is Notion?
Notion is an All-In-One workspace. Notion’s platform allows you to create task-oriented lists and projects, wikis, databases, lightweight CRMs, tables, code repositories, and almost anything else you cream dream up, imbed, or connect. How Notion is actually used is a much broader question because the possibilities are endless. Rather you are a student looking to organize and record everything related to your education, or teams within an organization housing centralized databases and task-oriented goals to steer group success, there is an application for you. If you’ve got the slightest itch for databases, organizing data, taking notes, building beautiful lists, simplifying and minimizing, or collaborating Notion will scratch it.
If this depiction sounds vague, I recommend viewing Notion’s Template Gallery. These templates are a great starting point and will take care of two things for you immediately. First, it will allow you to visualize many of the possible workflow setups created by Notion, and second it will allow you the ability to directly duplicate any pre-built template without any prior knowledge. Once you learn how to build your own, you can start from scratch and edit layouts that accelerate your productivity.
Notion vs Traditional Systems
usability, customization, design
Before Notion, note-taking and the process of tying my life together in one location were difficult. I have always been a note taker even outside of work and education. I have taken notes and organized my life in every format possible through mobile applications and other digital avenues (Evernote, Apple Notes, Microsoft’s One Note, Mind Node) to physical notebooks and journals alike, most notably Field Notes and Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner which I enjoyed thoroughly alongside the cons that accompany any physical notebook.
For the longest time, I found myself coming back to a planner or notebook that involved physical note-taking. Like reading a hardback book, there is something special about writing down notes and doodling on paper as opposed to reading or writing digitally, not to mention the research on transference, recall, and memory vs typing. More on that below in the resources section 👇 . I signed up for Notion on January 1st of 2019 and I haven’t looked back. Twenty-four months later I am still as excited, motivated, and hungry to use and learn Notion as I was on day one. One of the more obvious benefits is Notion’s multi-platform usability. Imagine the below scenario.
I am in my office reviewing the needs of our finance department in Notion on my iMac. A reminder pops up alerting me that I have a staff meeting in five minutes. I grab my iPad Pro and make my way toward our conference room where I open my iPad and continue working on the same Notion task since everything updates in real time. I can conveniently continue work before switching to my Meeting page where I will take notes on today's conversations and follow up with team members later. Halfway through the meeting, I get up to use the restroom and refill my coffee. I run downstairs, take care of both desires and on my way back, I run into a manager who asks me if I have those updated forms and some time to discuss them. I respond that at the moment, I am in the middle of a meeting but simultaneously pulling out my iPhone and clicking into Notion where I land in my dashboard and add a reminder note to send the dispatch manager a meeting request to connect by end of the current day.
The scenario mentioned above happens to me quite frequently. I cannot continually build, document, and organize with this amount of flexibility on any traditional platforms or planners. My experience with other digital note-taking systems has not been that seamless either. Consolidating all of my tools, projects, and data into one single workspace that I have access to at all times has been a game changer for my productivity and meeting the needs of my teams. Additionally, with Apple’s new widget function, I can create a one-click touch on my homepage taking me into Notion even quicker than before. This feature is great for creative ideas that hit me in most random places.
Next up is what I believe to be one of Notion’s many competitive advantages — its unique design options and customization. The market is full of CRMs, planners, workplace software, and other tools that offer 50% of what you want or need. Finding one that offers more is rare and finding one with the customization and appealing UI, forget it. With Notion, climbing toward that 75% and higher range where the combination of consolidation and design together equal pure gold to the obsessive-compulsive prolific note taker.
When designing a website, we think deeply about information overload, space, click-through rate, the flow of information, how many clicks it will take from start to finish, and the customer experience from the UI/UX. We test and test and test and tweak and refine and test and test and optimize. Unfortunately, we don’t use that lens for most software and platforms though. Notion understands this. It isn’t simply a product, it’s a philosophy, a way of doing. It’s a way of being productive, organizing, living, and being efficient so you can be effective in whatever format fuels you the most. A mindset I don’t see in most SAAS. I could go on about the pros of Notion but let me show you three areas of my life in which I use Notion.
How I notion
I use Notion in many ways, but I will share a few of my favorites below. First, my weekly dashboard, followed by a collaborative dashboard, an internal design board for a clothing line, and a Human Resources hub encompassing eight major HR Functions.
Here is a screenshot of where I spend a lot of time in Notion. My dashboard is my landing page, and every Friday before I leave the office, I reset this for the following week, so I am prepared the moment I return to my office. This format allows me to visualize weekly needs, reward myself when completing them, and input tasks on the go as they arise.
Remote teams are incredible and have become a new way of working that’s here for the long haul. Collaborating across borders can be tough and creating all-in-one ecosystems is increasingly crucial to the success of a team. A cool experience with Notion can be curating that water-cooler environment where people must land on a dashboard, see communication, and other workflows, and be reminded of important tasks. Getting an entire team together on Notion of utilizing relational databases and shared content can be a powerful collaborative tool that also incentivizes communication and other positive behaviors.
Team Dashboard and Goals
Building off the company hub, teams can have their own workflows and goals within that hub. Thinking always about design and employee experience from a UI/UX perspective, having everything in one central location can be illuminating. Tying goals to workflows with the ability to tag team members and insert content directly creates an enjoyable experience, a productivity magnifier.
Here is a cool table used in gallery format, with each card as a merchandise item. Upon clicking inside, you can see action items that need to be done, conversations around pricing, design documents, and monthly sales information on that item.
Human Resources Hub
Notion even has a page for teams that showcases how other companies are using Notion. These templates are great for creative inspiration. Above is a screenshot of how I’ve created a hub bucketing all of the HR functions I prioritize in our company. While I don’t store any private information inside Notion, it is a fantastic function for organization and quick storage or recall. I could spend months showing how I use Notion, but it should be clear by now that the options are limitless.
How to get Notion
Simply download it. I recommend using the desktop app available for both Mac and PC, download each version here 👈. Mobile users can download Notion directly from the app stores or by clicking here for iPhone users at the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store for Android users. If you prefer to use the web browser instead, that is an option as well by going to Notion.so and logging in. Best of all, for individual users, Notion is now free! Lastly, Notion raised an additional $50 Millionlast summer amidst the start of our pandemic. I see a bright future for Notion which entails adding more features and API integration to their already powerful software as remote work continues to be the new norm.
Below I have provided some resources on Notion, note-taking, research papers, and individuals in the space who provide great content.