I love writing about Notion, giving some tips and particularly showing to others the variety that this tool can bring. Whatever your industry or your station in life, anybody can benefit from Notion, after a learning process you have to live with. So without further ado, here is the story of how I got into Notion.
I got chronic fatigue
I don’t want to bore you with the details, but I developed chronic pain and fatigue after a burn-out and a very long waiting time for a necessary operation.
This was the perfect moment to start working as a freelancer, an idea I had been seriously toying with since I was a language teacher, back into my 20s.
However, being chronically tired and needing to stay in a reclining position for most of the day meant that if I wanted to work efficiently, I had to streamline and simplify everything about my life.
I got into minimalism and the KonMari method of tidying. I also kept track of where my time went, and created to-do lists to remain on top of the workload I accepted.
I hear you ask: then what was the problem?
I got scattered over different apps
Let me set the scene. I believe you will recognize yourself.
Like me, you were probably using:
- Trello: for your tasks and projects management, sorted by priority or category
- Word files (to write your blog entries) and a social media planner
- Canva (which, at the time, didn’t post directly to social)
- A productivity app like Todoist
- Evernote or – WORSE – your ever-expanding list of bookmarks in order to save interesting webclips
- Goodreads or an Amazon wishlist to keep track of the media (books, movies, albums) you wanted to consume
- Excel files galore
- Dropbox AND OneDrive AND an external hard drive AND the “Downloads” section of your computer… especially the “Downloads” section of your computer!
- A paper agenda to jot down your daily timetable AND Google Calendar
- An email provider without a proper system to help you get to Inbox Zero every day or every week
Now, be honest! Am I wrong here?
Do you see the problem in general, and in particular for a person who needs to save as much time as she can due to health problems?
I used some tricks, though
However, I learned some tricks in order to help me juggle as best I could with those multiple platforms.
- Name your files properly. There are several details you can insert directly in the title: the date, what your document is, the author, the initials of the language and the status, for example (done, to proofread, master list…)
- Keep the same organisation across all supports. This is particularly true if you are using colour coding and if your computer and your notebooks will contain personal as well as professional information. Keep the same colours, abbreviations, folder names and organisation structure for everything.
- Reassess your system regularly. This is what allowed me to simplify my processes while getting organised.
How I got into Notion
As I was taking on more work and responsibilities within my business (notably in terms of content creation and marketing), I knew that I had to find a more efficient tool to help me.
I tried Asana and didn’t connect with it. I tried Todoist and found it great for tasks, but lacking in everything else I needed. I tried Trello, but had the same problem.
What I wanted was an app that would let me create projects and tasks, show them day-by-day as well as on a calendar, let me calculate my working hours… but also allow me to jot down some thoughts, create content, and keep track of my webclips and reading lists.
This is when I discovered Notion, at the end of the year 2019. I was seeing more and more set-up tours on YouTube and realising the potential of Notion, when I discovered Marie Poulin. I love the fact that she draws parallels between her Notion space and ecosystems. I also appreciated that she was using Notion to help her deal with her ADHD.
I opened a free account, started to play, but was soon limited by my lack of knowledge. I simply didn’t know how to create a functional workspace with connected databases!
I then bought Marie’s All-In-One HQ template and was set for months. Later on, I joined her course, Notion Mastery.
From then on, it was simply a question of trying things out and slowly integrating my habits and what I was doing on other apps into Notion.
The PARA system
Notion is particularly suited for the Getting Things Done system, as well as the PARA system, which is a structure I used when I bought Marie’s template.
In order to learn more about this, I’ll let you click on this link to an article by Forte Labs, which will explain their system.
Nowadays, my goal-setting system goes roughly like this
- I create areas of interest: Business, Health, Languages, Personal Growth…
- I set up Goals. They can be SMART (measurable and with a precise timeframe) or identity-based
- I then set up Objectives and Metrics
- I’ll then have to define projects and tasks
For example, for my side hustle (1), my identity-based goal is to be recognized as a Notion specialist (2). My objective is to build a following before I start selling my products. For now, the main metrics can be “number of Insta followers”, “number of newsletter subscribers”, and “number of newsletters sent” (3). My projects in the pursuit of this goal are “Get a Notion badge” and “Engage daily on Instagram for 3 months”. The tasks will then be all the steps I need to take in order to study and sit a Notion test, and everything I need to do in order to publish content every day and interact with other accounts.
What other apps could I have used?
Yes, I admit I’ve been looking at other tools. For example, I used to write fiction exclusively in Scrivener, but I’ve bought a comprehensive template that allows me to plan my books in Notion and organise all the steps of the publishing process.
I’ve also revisited Asana and had a look at ClickUp.
On the other side, I’ve looked at Obsidian, as I was fascinated by the graph view.
Having said that, I don’t really see any tool that would have the versatility given by Notion, and in which I could work as efficiently on all my projects.
So this is the story of how I got into Notion.
Do you have a Notion story to tell?
And remember, if you are just starting and need help, here are 10 resources that will get you started with Notion.