In an effort to
avoid work/ procrastinate/improve my workflow, I thought I’d take a look at Notion, the online productivity/life admin/project-management app/workspace/system. I’d spotted it a while ago, but took no real notice. Time for a revisit?
The productivity app that won the pandemic – Debugger
In April 2020, as many businesses were shutting down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Notion was booming. Although the expansive note-taking app had been around since 2013, the company’s founders and investors apparently understood that the way we work would suddenly see a drastic change as the coronavirus spread across the country. Notion founder and CEO Ivan Zhao raised $50 million, pushing the company’s value to $2 billion. The gamble on the part of Zhao and his investors was a good one. Notion’s user base has more than quadrupled since 2019. In August, Zhao told Protocol that each week was its biggest ever in terms of growth.
I’m one of these anxious, depressed, low-control people, which would help explain why I’m always looking for the next solution for transforming my thoughts from a frantic pile of garbage into something resembling coherence. A 2017 dissertation by Charlotte Massey, then a graduate student in cognitive psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, found that when people felt sad, they created more computer folders when organizing their files than those who were in a good mood. According to Massey, research shows that a negative mood can lead people to be more analytical and systematic in their behavior, such as becoming more intently organized and oriented toward problem-solving. Because when we feel bad, we naturally look for ways to identify and fix the problem.
I think this is why productivity apps, in particular Notion, have become so popular in the past year. (Even watching other people use productivity apps has become a popular pastime for some.) A lot of us are not doing great. We are in negative mood states because we are lonely, anxious, and depressed — for obvious reasons. A spreadsheet or a to-do list or a Notion page are not going to solve the pandemic, but if we use them correctly, they can help us feel more in control of our lives.
Their website has a ton of guides, support and customer stories, but you can spend hours and hours trawling through the million Notion tutorials on YouTube. It seems especially popular with university students.
- My favourite note-taking app for students: Notion – Ali Abdaal
- My favorite IT study tool: Notion – NetworkChuck
- How I use Notion! as a student – studycollab: Alicia
- How I organise my life: Student Notion tour – Ruby Granger
- How to take university notes on laptop: my Notion templates – Mei-Ying Chow
- How to take notes in medical school using Notion – Kharma Medic
- How I make notes for med school: Notion Guide – Soony Sun
- How I study effectively using Notion: Active Recall – Ruri Ohama
Not just students, though.
- How we use Notion at The Futur for design and marketing projects – The Futur
- How to use Notion in your photography business – Joy Michelle Photography
- Using Notion to become a better gardener: Plant + garden dashboard – Marie Poulin
- Notion for lawyers: 4 authentic ways lawyers can use Notion (2021) – The Desk Of A Lawyer
And don’t think this is just for your studies or your business — like its analogue predecessor, the Bullet Journal, this is for your whole life!
- Full life organization with Notion – Mariana’s Corner
- How I organise my whole life in Notion – muchelleb
- How I organize my entire life (with Notion) – Lana Blakely
- Notion SuperCharged: How I organize my whole life – Jesse Showalter
- How I plan & organize my life (with Notion) – Krist & Yu
- Notion tour (dashboard & setup): How I organize my life – Kharma Medic
- How I use Notion: the best productivity tool (not sponsored) – harshibar
- Intro & overview of Pillars, Pipelines & Vaults: Notion life operating system – August Bradley
- Notion tour: How I organize my life and work literally game-changing – Jules Acree
There’s no such thing as the perfect solution, though.
- Why I’m Leaving Notion for personal use – Keep Productive
- Why I left Notion – Danny Hatcher
- Stop using Notion for everything – Peter Akkies
- Why you need to stop using Notion for your whole life! – Paperless X
- The biggest problem with Notion (and most productivity apps) – harshibar
- 5 reasons why I left Notion for Craft Docs (+3 reasons that made the change “hard”) – Maggi Fuchs
- Obsidian: The most secure Notion alternative (not sponsored) – harshibar
And so on and so on, round and round. Let’s leave the last word to Angela again, in this piece about a more familiar tool.
The next wellness trend should be Google Spreadsheets – OneZero
What a green cell communicates to Hannah, and anyone who uses a similar method of spreadsheet design, is that she kicked ass that day. She got her word count. A red cell, conversely, shows that she didn’t fulfill her end of the bargain, didn’t complete her goal, and now that long beautiful row of green will be marred by a stressful little red box. And while list-making can be beneficial on its own, utilizing a grid that can be visually marred by empty space or the wrong color is a surprisingly effective motivator.