Notion is a unique creature. While it is simple enough to describe as a project management tool, it is equally a file management tool, creative workspace, personal internet, task list, and more.
A first look at Notion, like any new software, can be intimidating to say the least. Notion starts you off on a blank page, just like an open word document – without a template. However, as you begin to dive deeper, you realize just how expansive it really is, while the building basics remain. This creates a beautiful parallel between simple yet expansive.
I’m well versed in BaseCamp, Asana, Trello, and the likes. However, no matter what platform I attempt, I find myself running back to Notion. The ability to custom create exactly what I want is intoxicating.
Not convinced? Here are 5 things you absolutely need to know about Notion.
Notion’s database features are a 21st century version of Excel. Excel is phenomenal, don’t get me wrong, industry standard is there for a reason. However, within Notion, Databases are not simply databases. You can interlink, reference sections of one database within another, roundup information to create a summary, and more.
Further, the ability to give controlled views of databases to different pages, and even different people. For example, one database of inventory items can be viewed per category, per size, or per quantity, all without adjusting the information within the database.
Better yet, let’s say I have a database of all the books I have read, for example, and I want to share that database with my co-worker, I can choose to only share the ones based around leadership, while skipping the ones based around vampire love stories.
2. Text Editor
In addition to being a database type system, Notion is also a phenomenal text editor and note taking tool.
Personally, I enjoy writing in Notion because I can intentionally block out other distractions. Or, when I need to research as well, I will resize Notion to fit a portion of the screen while leaving the majority of the screen for my research material. Notion will auto re-size without any issues. While the text editor may not be what someone used to a publisher or even custom fonts will enjoy, for writing scripts, articles, notes, and most things, Notion is a phenomenal place to write and archive an organized collection of my text.
3. "The ring that rules them all"
What might be my favorite part about Notion is that it can be the system that rules them all. By this I mean, all things can link to Notion, or like from Notion. I have a plethora of articles all over the internet, I can link all of them, regardless of site, to a database in Notion. I can also upload any word documents I have, or any other file, to summarize and keep all things in one place.
What is especially great about this is that Notion is cross-platform. I can start a project, document, script, or database on my windows laptop, and pick it up again on my iPhone, make some uploads from my iPad and then view on my MacBook. All with ease.
Everyone that I know that uses Notion has their own way of going about it. Even with pages we share, the way in which we plan, manipulate text, and navigate can be different. If you look at how we organize, reference, and more, the differences become even more apparent.
Not saying one way is better than others, but simply saying that there are a multitude of customizable features that help individualize each and every user’s experience.
Every element of Notion is shareable. Every page can be accessed online. However, while that sounds like an all or nothing statement, it could not be further from the truth. With every click of “share” I am given the option to share to the web, or secured accounts. If sharing to the web, I am given options of if I want it to be visible by way of Google searches, or only direct link. I can also allow edits via link, or simply make the link viewable. Lastly, I can choose if, by way of the link, the page is able to be duplicated — one of the wonderful features of Notion regarding sharing.
If I choose to share with a secured account, I can further choose their permissions as well. Do I want them to be able to only view? Comment? Edit? Make changes to the structure or just the content? And so on.
All of this is behind secured accounts, and with the higher level plans, that security only increases.
Will Notion work for me?
Notion is designed to work for just about everyone, however for those who think less structurally, Notion may be overkill. For example, if you think of everything as a giant oil painting and you are simply finger painting in your mind throughout the day, Notion may not be for you. But, if you are like me, and everything is filed away, in structured, related, databases and systems, Notion is your dream come true.
Second Brain is a concept that many have used and has grown quite popular in recent years. The main idea is that our brain is designed for processing information, not storing. So, your second brain would be there to hold the information you need, so that you can be freed up to process more.
This way of operating and thinking is most popular with the hyper productive group of individuals — those looking to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of their brains and day. For better or worse, I am one of those individuals. In my research and creation of my own second brain — and subsequent productive systems — I have found Notion to be the absolute dream interface and program to play host to my second brain.
Notion, as you can see, is a program with infinite ways it can be used due to its ever growing and expansive abilities. Regardless of whether you use it for project management, file management, text management, or simply as a creative platform, Notion can handle it.
- Looking for more on project management? Here's more on what project management actually is.