I have been searching for the perfect tool to manage my tasks for my personal life and work-life for years. I tried so many tools – Microsoft ToDo, TickTick, Any.do, Google Tasks etc. I had to move on from all of them eventually because they could never give me what I needed. I have been using Notion for about 2 years now, and I am never going back.
What is Notion
You can customize your workflow to the nth degree so it is as easy or as advanced as you need it to be. Start with only a single page and make a to-do list, or create a collection of interrelated databases to manage your entire life.
With the built-in first-party templates and community created templates, there is endless inspiration for your next page.
Some of the more popular templates out there include
- Company Home
- Product Development Roadmap
- Meeting Notes List
- Wiki Documents
- Content creation calendar
- Task tracking system
- New hire onboarding system
The list is ENDLESS!
Notion is made up of pages which contain one or more blocks.
As per the notion website:
“Think of Notion as a bottomless bin of building blocks. Build whatever you want, however you want! Every page you create in Notion will be composed of many “blocks,” in the same way a LEGO castle is composed of many LEGO bricks 🧱”
A block can be a piece of plain text, an image, a table, a link etc.
Here is an illustration from Notion’s guide on What is a block?
Blocks can easily be transformed from one type into another, and even drag-and-drop re-arranged as follows:
Databases are a mechanism to structure your pages in a way where you can easily organise, categorise, filter, label and search the pages however you need it.
You can use the views mechanism to show the same set of pages either as a table, a list, a timeline, a Kanban board, a calendar or a gallery.
A database template is a way you can create a generic version of the page layout once , then each time you need a new instance you can instantiate it using the template and just fill in the gaps.
Go from a blank page to multiple pre-created blocks that create a layout to enable you to get going as soon as possible.
For the advanced users, you can utilise Integrations to amplify and automate your workspace even more.
“View the content and status of Jira tasks, Slack threads, GitHub issues, and more — without leaving Notion.”
Automate your workflow using Zapier, Make or Tray.io. These tools hook into your workspace, so when you create a new page in database, that page can get synced to other tools like GitHub, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Jira, Trello etc. to keep your other tools up to date as well.
How I use Notion
The biggest benefit of notion is also its biggest weakness – its an open playground where you can do whatever you want. This can very quickly devolve into an unorganized mess of disconnected pages where you can’t find anything anymore.
To fix this issue in my own workspace, I implemented the P.A.R.A. methodology.
It stands for Projects, Areas, Resources, Archive.
I first heard of this methodology from Tiago Forte on his website Forte Labs.
I made it my own slightly by adding a T to the acronym for Tasks.
- Areas are the spheres of activity in your life with a standard you need to maintain over a long period of time. E.g. Your House, Your Career, Your Family, Your Hobbies, Your Car etc.
- Projects are sub-sections of your areas where you can group information into more concise formats such as a project for each hobby you have, a project for each pet you have, a project for each client you work with at work etc.
- Resources are topics, themes, articles, books, notes and whatever else that are not time bound and can relate to more than one project or area over time. Here is where you would save articles you found online you would like to refer back to later. Or notes on the books you are reading. Lists of applications you always install on a new laptop etc.
- Archive is a place or mechanism to place or tag inactive items from the other categories without deleting them entirely (I personally just delete stuff, so this doesn’t feature in my own workspace)
- Tasks are small pieces of actionable items you have to complete on a specific date. E.g. send an email to my boss to tell them I will come in late tomorrow, take out the trash, pay my electricity bills etc.
Putting this in place can be quite daunting, so I have put together a template that you can duplicate to your own Notion workspace to get you started. You don’t have to buy the template. If you follow the Forte Labs link I posted above you will get all the same resources I had when I created the template for myself. If you are a little lazy like me 😉 , check out the template to jumpstart your productivity here >
Template Features Change Log
- Areas database to categorize all the areas of your life (House and Home, Finances, Family, Work etc.)
- Projects database to store related information by area (Vacations, admin, information about your pets etc.)
- Tasks database to keep on top of your to-do list
- Meeting notes database to take notes in so you always remember your action items from the meeting
- Resources database to store links, notes, articles, recipes or whatever else you need to store long term
- Inbox database to send articles to from your phone for later viewing and classification
- Work page that can serve as your dashboard for all tasks and projects related to your daily 9–5
- Habit Tracker to ensure you achieve your goals
August 28, 2022
- Added a default template to the tasks database so it has an icon by default.
- Added the Status Text field to the tasks database. So you can see a short description of the status in the board view.
- Added new default views to the tasks linked view in the work page such as Calendar.
- Added a Grocery list project to the House and Home Area
- Added a Recurring Finance Checks project with a Bills database so you can capture the bills that need to be paid monthly. It will also show you the total amount you spent on those bills over time.
- Added a “Mobile Tasks View” page showing a condensed version of the tasks database for easy viewing on your phone
- Added a medical history project and database to keep track of procedures performed over time.
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