person typing

Notion: Taking Notes, Writing, and Managing Your Life

Have you ever been interested in note-taking and management apps such as Trello, OneNote, Evernote, or Todoist? If the answer is Yes, then Notion will probably give you an interesting experience.

I used to be so lazy to write down things and manage different aspects of my life. Ever since I started using Notion, I’ve become more conscious of managing my habits, goals, finance, etc.

With an attractive interface, flexible customization and convenient access, Notion definitely gives me an inspiration to pay more attention to my living. And if you want, you can totally turn Notion into a combination of Trello, OneNote, and Todoist.

What is Notion?

Notion is a note-taking and writing app, allowing users to make plans, write, and organize their lives. The app is described as an “all-in-one” workspace, which means that everything can be saved into one space.

Notion has become so popular these days because of its flexibility and smart features. You can create a to-do list, jot down some cooking recipes, or even manage a long-term project.

Notion is actively competing with Trello, Evernote, and other management apps. Many individuals and companies have gradually moved their projects to Notion, namely Thomas Frank, Ali Abdaal, The Futur, etc.

Why should you use Notion?

Free

Notion is free for personal users. The company used to offer 1000 blocks for free, but they changed their pricing plans and now free users get unlimited blocks. If you’re a student or an individual user, the free plan is enough.

Notion also offers paid plans. These plans are suitable for teams, or anyone looking for advanced features such as security or better administration.

I’m using the free plan and to my surprise, it doesn’t limit me or force me to pay like some other apps.

Notion pricing

Minimalistic and clean interface

Notion has a clean and beautiful interface. The main color scheme includes black and white, perfect for those who love neutral colors and minimalists. Honestly, this is the main reason that brings me to Notion.

Quick syncing, multiple platforms

Notion works on Android, Windows, iOS, and information is synced immediately. This feature is great if you use different devices and want the information to be accessed quickly.

I use a Windows laptop, an iPad, and an Android phone. I can always write on any device staying near me most and be assured that my information can be accessed on other device I have.

Flexible customization

No one writes the same thing. Everyone works and learns in their own way. Notion allows you to create your own digital workspace. You can add icons, images, colors, and build a whole organization system for your needs.

There’s a big user community, which means there are lots of creative customizations. You can sync what you have highlighted on your Kindle into Notion by running a few scripts, create a creative portfolio, or turn Notion into a study notebook full of knowledge and information.

Quick information searching

Being able to find out what you need out of millions of words is an important feature. Notion has a Quick Find feature that is convenient for searching for the information you need.

5 Notion tips (with photos)

Get to know “block”

Block is the smallest unit in Notion. Every time you press Enter, you create a block. Every block can be assigned to have a function.

Some basic functions are: page, text, image, to-do list, bullet point, code, etc.

To assign a function to a block, simply type / and choose the function you want.

For example, if you want to create a to-do square, you can type:

/to-do list or /to

You don’t have to type the whole word. You only need to type 1-2 words, and Notion will give you suggestions. Press Enter once again, or click on the function, done!

notion to do list
Create a to-do block with a simple code

Functions of block in Notion

I often use these functions:

/page: create a new page

/h1, /h2, /h3: heading 1, heading 2, heading 3

/bulleted list: create bullet points

/numbered list: create a numbered list

/toggle list: this function allows you to hide information inside the toggle.

I often use Notion toggles for reviewing lessons.

When reviewing my lessons, I can hide the answers inside the toggle and try to answer the question first.

Toggle is also useful when you don’t want everything to appear on the page, except for the main points.

/emoji: add emojis for a livelier interface

/image: add images

/web bookmark: add web bookmarks

You can also attach PDF, video, audio files, etc., a convenient feature for reviewing stuff and writing.

If you want to move any block, simply drag the 4-dot symbol at the beginning of the block to anywhere you want. You can click on the 4-dot symbol and change the function of the block.

Parent and child pages

In Notion, you can create pages inside pages, which means you can create a system of pages.

For instance, if you want to create a page for your journal. You can systemize pages like so: Journal -> Month -> Date.

You can create 12 pages for 12 months inside the Journal page, and 28-31 pages for each date inside each month.

Notion has a sidebar that shows all the pages you’ve created. You can mark a page “Favorite” if you want it to appear on the top of the sidebar. When you write or work on Notion, you can close the sidebar for a clean and minimal workspace and for better focus.

notion sidebar
The sidebar can be closed for a cleaner writing space. Mark “Favorite” to access a page faster.

If you’re new to Notion or workspace organization, try to systemize and organize your digital space right from the beginning. This helps you find necessary information more easily. Plus, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed when reorganizing your workspace later on.

Linked Database

If you’re someone working on projects, you can keep track of your projects closely in Notion by using these view modes:

    1. List View
    2. Kanban View (you may be familiar with this if you’ve used Trello)
    3. Calendar View

For example, I create a Blog Calendar to keep track of my blog posts. I’ll create a table including Post Title, Publish Date, Due Day, Post Link, Status. Here’s the List View.

Track your projects by List View

Then, I create a Kanban View. Now I can view my posts based on their Status: Pending, Writing, Draft, Edited, Published. This is an extremely helpful feature to track the progress of your projects.

Track your projects by Kanban View

Next, I create a Calendar View to track my posts based on date. Thanks to this mode, I can be aware of the deadline and the publish date, and manage my time accordingly to finish the posts in time.

Track my projects by Calendar View

What I absolutely adore about this feature is that the information will be automatically updated if you make changes to a view mode.

For example, if you change the Publish Date in the List View, then the Publish Date will change automatically in the Calendar View. Or when I change the Status of my post in the Kanban View, the status will automatically be updated in the List View.

Change the Publish Date and Status in the List View…

…and they are automatically updated in the Kanban View.

With this feature, you can manage various projects, from reviewing for final exams, managing design projects to creating social media posting calendar, etc.

Customize texts

Notion allows you to customize your text with basic functions. You can make your texts bolded, italicized, highlighted, or change their colors. This is great when you use Notion for work and learning.

You can also copy what you have written in Notion into Microsoft Word or other software to further customize the texts. And you can export your pages into PDF files, Markdown & CSV, HTML, and in different page sizes including A4, Letter, Tabloid, etc.

Some tutorial sources for using Notion

It’s hard to understand everything about Notion in just one post. I’ve spent a few weeks getting used to Notion. If you’re really interested in the app, the process will be much faster.

You can watch videos from Thomas Frank or Ali Abdaal for smarter applications of Notion. Notion’s Youtube page also uploads numerous tutorial videos that are short and easy to understand.

There’s even a huge community with thousands of Notion users—Notion Made Simple—full of smart ideas that you can apply.

Notion’s weaknesses

Every app has its pros and cons, and Notion is no exception. There are a few aspects that Notion needs to work on.

    1. Notion only works if you have an Internet connection. If you want to write something offline, you have to open the page in advance when you’re online. I rarely use Notion offline, but this is a huge downside when there are blackouts or no Internet connections.
    2. Some users have doubts about the protection of information privacy of Notion. In this day and age, it’s hard to know who peeks at your personal information, and what they use the information for. That’s why I completely avoid saving my important personal information such as passwords, bank cards, identity number, etc. on Notion.
    3. Notion hasn’t had an API function for connecting other apps (Google Calendar, for instance).
    4. Notion on mobile is relatively slow. The slowness is clearly noticeable.

Notion team seems to respond well to customers’ opinions and release updates often, so I hope they will do something about these weaknesses.

Takeaway

When I first knew about Notion, I wanted to…quit because there were so many things to get used to and I couldn’t fully understand the flexibility of the app. Fortunately, I didn’t shove this useful app into the corner.

After a short while of learning and finding out more about Notion, it has become my “second brain”. It’s a place where I can save all of my ideas, thoughts, learning and working stuff, as well as my entertainment lists.

Why do I love Notion? Because it’s all-in-one and it’s fully personalizable. I can store everything in here (except for my personal info lol), and constantly build it into something of my own.

If you care about taking notes and managing your life digitally, maybe try Notion out to see where it leads you!

Zeen Social Icons