“Everything I need to keep my life running is stored online. Somewhere. I just can’t find it. ” (Pierce, 2018).
After performing a bit of research I decided to use Notion as my project planning software. Although I am more familiar with Trello, I was intrigued by Notion’s database capabilities. It also had some stellar reviews.
Notion was touted as “The Only App You Need for Work-Life Productivity” by David Pierce in a recent Wall Street Journal online article (2018).
That’s a significant endorsement for an app that has only been around since 2016, and Pierce uses a great analogy to describe the tool.
“Notion combines the features of a note-taking app, a task-management app and a spreadsheet tool the way that Steve Jobs combined an iPod, a cellphone and a web browser into the iPhone: All these tools work together to create something more than its parts” (Pierce, 2018).
After a bit of design trial and error I began feeling more comfortable with the navigation. Data entry is never fun, but it is the necessary evil that helps the average Joe get organized and achieve their project goals.
To begin I set up three main areas using three different templates:
- Daily Production Journal
- Project Management System
- Interviewee Tracker
Let me walk you through each one.
Daily Production Journal
For my daily tasks, Notion’s Journal template was easy to set up. Since it’s also easy to use, and since I spend most of my time on a digital device, it’s very convenient and helps me stay on track on a daily basis.
It’s easy to change the title when you use a template. I added the word Production by simply clicking on the title inside the template.
Clicking on a specific date opens a web-based page that you can populate with date-specific to-do lists. Here’s my to-do list for tomorrow.
Checking a box causes the app to highlight the box in blue and cross out the entry off the list.
Managing the Project
For a bird’s eye view of the project, Notion’s Roadmap template works well. Information is broken down into separate groups:
- Epics are overarching initiatives.
- Tasks are actions that make up Epics.
- Bugs are any issues or tasks that need to be fixed.
There’s also a group called Sprints, described as time-bound pushes to complete a set of tasks. I’ve opted not to use this category at the moment, but it may come in handy if I run into delivery-based time challenges going forward.
Once again I changed the template title; this time to Choosing Your Reflection, the new working title for the podcast.
The sorting function comes in handy to isolate groups you are interested in viewing at any particular moment.
Notion’s Applicant Tracker template worked well for setting up each of my potential podcast interviewees. Note that I changed the names and blocked out the PII to protect my podcast guests’ privacy.
Each record holds information gathered from my online survey, which is easily accessed by clicking on the potential guest’s name. I can also sort by status to ensure I am responding to incoming inquiries in a timely fashion.
Easy to Learn, Hard to Master
Pierce’s WSJ article recommends thinking of it as a “super-simple website builder.” I agree. I got up and running really quickly and I’m learning more about the product every day. He also adds that it’s “easy to learn, hard to master” (2018).
The good news is that Notion has an active user community, so you can dive deep if you have the time.
It’s definitely more time-consuming on the front end than Trello, but ultimately offers more depth should you wish to take advantage of it over the long haul.
When I looked up the word notion I found an interesting array of definitions. This one was particularly intriguing.
“A notion is lighter than a theory and embraces a whimsy that a simple idea never could” (Notion – Dictionary Definition, n.d.).
My podcast Choosing Your Reflection began as a notion. Why not ask people to share stories about how they chose their wedding outfit? Most people call it one of the most important days of their life.
It might sound whimsical, but the choice you make matters.
So I guess using Notion for what began as a notion is apropos — because both notions are deeper than they appear at first glance.
until nxt time …
Notion (app). (2020). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Notion_(app)&oldid=959034836 Page Version ID: 959034836
notion—Dictionary Definition. (n.d.). vocabulary.com.
Pierce, D. (2018, March 21). The Only App You Need for Work-Life Productivity. Wall Street Journal (Online). https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-only-app-you-need-for-work-life-productivity-1521640800
Poulin, M. (2019, November 8). Create a Weekly Agenda template from scratch in Notion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Yk4BWfhh6Q
Header image by Dmitry Demidov