I finally caved and joined the Notion bandwagon.
I first found out about Notion via ProductHunt in late 2018. Then I started playing with the app in early 2019. At the time, I used Bear for note-taking on my Mac. I also heavily used Google Docs, Sheets, & Slides. All the docs were organized in folders, but it was still confusing to find a doc or excel quickly.
It was a hacked-together system, but it worked for me. Still, I felt there had to be a better way. I kept asking on Twitter and friends what note taking app they used. Notion was recommended 60 to 70 percent of the time. The other 30 to 40 percent of the time was Roam Research.
Why I didn't choose Roam Research
Roam Research is an appealing note-taking app that turns the ordinary notebook & organizational model on its head. The app is a "note-taking tool for networked thought," which means almost all notes are somehow interconnected.
Roam is an excellent tool for journalists, researchers, and others to fit their thoughts and research together. I felt a bit overwhelmed with the process. Instead of a file cabinet approach, everything is interconnected on a graph (shown below).
Roam is a new an exciting system, and maybe one day I'll be able to understand and leverage the platform. Today I chose to skip the platform and use Notion instead.
Why I choose to go with Notion
Notion offers a unique set of features that I haven't seen any app bundled together. The only app that I have seen try to bundle together so many features is Basecamp, but it's very project management focused. While I wanted project management features, I wanted primarily a note-taking and organization system better than Google Docs.
In the end, Notion offers a more robust set of features. It provides tables, calendars, note sections. Notion is a replacement for Trello, Google Docs, and Confluence. I can use the system as a lite CRM, Kaban style boards, a regular old notebook, and even an advanced Wiki.
How I use Notion at Home
Recently, I sent holiday cards, and needed a better way to organize contacts. Apple Contacts had the info but not everyone was updated or just in my contact book. I needed to collect addresses for realtives on both sides, and friends that I haven't chatted with for a while. The process took a lot longer than I wanted, plus having to update the contact info in Apple Contacts was a pain.
At first, I thought about an excel would be a good replacment.However, I wanted a better interface with notes, tags, and more. With Notion, the app allows me to have the table view but with pages within the contact. This page allows me to include notes, addresses, tags, or even photos within.
I have started doing light journaling, documenting my day's work, amd writing down thoughts.
The journaling helped me organize content ideas, stay on task, and organize thoughts. Maybe one day in the future when I go back and read the random thoughts, it'll help document memorable moments.
Recently, I found journals I wrote when I was 15 and 16. They were poorly written but was great to peek into what I was thinking at the time. Some of the journals were about getting my black belt, a history class being too hard, and starting to drive. I hope I find my journals that I'm writing now in 1o years and peek into what I was thinking in 2020.
In mid 2021, I am moving into a new home. It's currently being built so as we wait, I've decided to make a moving checklist. Notion let me to include a list with details, dimensions, photos, and where the furniture would go in the new home.
In the list, I am also including new furniture we are thinking of buying. The page also includes the new home's info from address, permits, and other essential links.
Personal To Do
I keep a personal to-do list in the form of a kanban board. This Notion board is the replacement to my Trello board, where I kept a running list of things to do around the house and other personal task.
Project and Instapaper are a great way to save links, tweets, or other articles. I've tried both of them but never stuck to reading the links I saved.
Instead of those services, I started using Notion for saving content I want to revisit. In the table, I added columns to categorize links, include notes, and have a status of reading or unread.
How I am implementing Notion at Work
I work at a digital marketing agency as a lead strategist. I manage the team and pick the tools we use. As I started using Notion for personal use, I started testing how I could use it with marketing work.
There are a few options, including content calendars, knowledge base, and lite CRMs or project management. It's still in the early days; I have just started building out our workflows and adding team members. We are moving away from Trello and Google Docs.
Replacing Trello has been smooth with the Notion import feature. We've imported each of the boards into Notion, updated some of the extra fields that were custom in Trello cards.
We will use the board view to replicate Trello's kanban style board. As I build out the system, I will share how we use Notion for project management.
As a company, we haven't had a knowledge base. We've kept documentation in Google Docs, Evernote, and personal note apps. We are now moving everything in Notion to create a robust documentation process for work and how to do different tasks.
I have imported some docs and started building others out. This will be reasonably clean-cut, but again, I will share we use Notion for documentation in a marketing agency.
We have an internal CRM, but its mostly meant for sales. I am building out Notion to be our lite CRM to handle marketing information like budget, KPIs, platforms where we are managing ads.
I will create a template on Notion that others can use as a CRM for paid media clients.
Will Notion Stick for the Long Haul?
I always ask myself this one question - will a new app stay around for the long haul?
Notion feels like the one that will. I am about two weeks into using it fulltime. I've built out contact books, started journaling, and even pushed the app into my work workflow.
It's worth the couple of dollars I pay for the personal space, and super affordable on the business side. I am always looking for other recommendations on how to use Notion so if you have templates or wanna connect - tweet me @leonhitchens.