Taking a deep dive into Notion


How I decided to go all-in on Notion to organize my life.

Cloudy days...

My mind was scattered. I was losing productivity and letting goals slip through the cracks. I have long been in search of a solution to organize and index my thoughts and ideas but never found something that stuck - a tool that naturally became the destination for my rambling mind.

In the past I used notebooks of all shapes, sizes, and binding methods, Google Docs, the notes app on my phone, I emailed ideas to myself, had loose pieces of paper on my coffee table and on the desk in my office, I have years-old screenshots that I've annotated with one or two word phrases to trigger an idea. This "system," to use the term loosely, is wildly not useful.

A new hope...

About a year ago, a co-worker presented his screen during a meeting and a strange looking app appeared. It didn't look like much more than the cool kids' version of OneNote, but the user interface piqued my interest.

That evening I signed up for Notion and began to play around with it. I copied the stock templates, made very minor customizations and started writing, embedding links, and creating tables. I enjoyed using it, but Notion soon became one of those tools thrown onto the messy pile, another remote island of notes and ideas.

I did, however, continue to use Notion frequently over the next year. I started tracking my personal projects and business ideas in Notion. I started to write more, create more tables, and fill pages with links to articles and content I wanted to save for later. I started spending less time searching for scraps of paper, jotting down notes in Google Docs, and emailing myself. This shift is that it was not a conscious decision - I did not jump up from my couch and shout "From today, I shall use Notion!" but something kept pulling me back into my Notion workspace.

I started learning a little bit more about the different features in Notion and applying those lessons to my own workspace. I watched one or two tutorial videos but seeing the complexity of the tool was overwhelming and I didn't want to invest time in climbing that steep learning curve, so I continued along the basic path I was already on. I was moving slowly, but I was on the right track. Bit by bit, Notion was becoming the go-to repository for my ideas and thoughts.

Then, about 4 months later, I found some jet fuel to accelerate my interest. Fellow indie hacker Janel launched NewsletterOS. After seeing what Janel built, I started digging through my Twitter feed and communities for other Notion experts and templates and came across Marie Poulin's YouTube channel. Marie's videos unlocked for me how powerful Notion can be when used to full effect. Finally, it clicked.

Perhaps I just needed more exposure to Notion or to hit a breaking point where I needed to take my productivity and planning more seriously, but seeing how Marie uses Notion's features to solve real problems and organize her life pushed me over the edge - time to learn Notion.

So it continues...

Now, I've reached a checkpoint and saved my game. I'm stocking up on potions and figuring out how to spend my skill points. I'm at the beginning of the next chapter in my Notion journey. I've started to iterate on my own dashboards and project tracking tools - I even wrote this blog post in Notion before copying it over to my blog's content management system.

I'm taking advantage of free resources to learn the features, mental models, and processes that make Notion an exceptional tool and I'm going to share my progress along the way.

I'm excited to keep learning, fine-tuning my Notion workspace, increasing my productivity, and achieving my goals.

Do you use Notion? Have any tips or tricks for me? Do you use another tool that helps you organize your life? Let's talk about it (@thepeffrey)

Here are a few of the free resources I'm using.

Marie Poulin's blog

Notion VIP

Notion Expert

Thomas Frank's blog

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