I was really glad to hear Notion mentioned in the last post (or was it the post before last?).
I started using Notion over a year ago as just a “hmmm, this is curious, what is this?” sort of interest but it has gradually taken over more and more other software that I used to use, such as:
Evernote / Bear / Apple Notes
Various habit trackers
Code snippets repository
The two things I love most about Notion:
Almost infinite flexibility. Yes, also probably the thing that a lot of people will/do really dislike about it. I am a software developer by trade and I love how freaking fast and easy it is to create web dashboards and databases in Notion.
Everything in one place. Also probably what some people will dislike about it. But definitely one of the things that makes it super powerful.
Other system I have built in Notion but contain too much sensitive information to share
A home decorating planner
A reusable checklist templating system
Household inventory (reciepts, manuals, insurance photos all in one place)
Health record history for my pets
I think this is why people often call it an OS or operating system. It’s like, once you start using it for one little thing, you discover another use, and another use and it just keeps building. And then, once everything is in once place it makes it so easy to combine very customized screens that make things easier. For instance, I could have a task in my Task database to take my dog to the vet and then inside the task, have all his health history right there that the vet may ask me a question about. Or I could build a custom dashboard for houseguests that has not only activitiy ideas, the dinner menu for the week and also all the manuals and documentation for my smart house that they may find useful. It’s really crazy what you can do with it. And the best thing of all is how economical it is. For personal accounts, either Free or $4/month for all of this, depending on your needs. I’ve saved quite a bit of money by dropping other subscriptions that Notion has taken over.
Anyways, for anyone curious, I hope this gives a little more concrete examples of what is possible to do with Notion.
As a personal wiki it’s easily more Mac-like than anything else out there. I tried Notion a couple of times but found its capabilities and design were more open-ended than I liked, and needed careful design and pruning and management than I wanted to put it. But it’s a very capable app.
@jmayhugh: Thanks for this excellent and helpful description of how you are using Notion.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to work Notion into my workflow for knowledge storage, note taking, etc. I still haven’t been able to figure out if it provides me with an advantage over notes in Apple Notes, files accessed through Finder, “tables” in Numbers, etc, however…still trying to get my mind wrapped around it.
One thing that is actually a problem for me with Notion is that in my notes, I often lay data out in tabular format. That just does not translate into Notion’s paradigm, at least not as far as I have figured out.
I don’t need Notion’s concept of tables, which are more akin to a combined spreadsheet and database. Well, I do for some things and have experimented with them in those cases. But, there are times when I just want a plan tabular layout for some data with columns titles and data entries that do not fit into Notion’s paradigm for tables.
I wish they provided some mechanism for simply entering data in this kind of format. If there is such a way I have yet to figure it out.
That’s actually a really good way to dip your toes in – a use (I’m assuming) is not critical to your daily workflow.
The first Notion database I built was the Christmas gift shopping organizer, which I found super helpful, but didn’t really branch out of for over 6 months. Since I didn’t have a tool to manage this information before, it was only a value add.
But then I decided to map out one family vacation in Notion. And then I found another use. And another… so, yes…perhaps it is a bit of rabbit hole, but one where the resident rabbit is quite productive.
@beck – What I found helpful was watching YouTube videos of Marie Poullin, Thomas Frank and August Bradley – which gave me more of a glimpse of how powerful it was, and started spurring ideas of what I could use it for. Good luck!
Well, Notion does have code blocks which I believe would allow you to control text alignment in a sort of monospace tabular format, but that definitely seems like overkill for just tabular text. (Although, you can paste spreadsheet content and it will retain its structure.)
I think Notion is much more powerful in use cases where you want to create very customized app-like organizations of data, because of the way you can link views of the data in different ways. So yeah, probably not the right tool for what you’re looking for.
Man, this is so good!
I’m working through August Bradley’s videos now and really like the way he has his system set up for quantifying progress toward his goals, habit trackers, etc.
I had recently changed my mind about trying to find an all-in-one system, and started collecting pieces (apps) to cobble together - but this looks really good.
Thanks again for this write up!
It is. And a lot of colleges and universities are now able to offer .edu addresses to their alumni. So even though I have a .edu address through work, I signed up using the alumni address from my graduate school, since I can be reasonably sure it’s essentially a permanent address.
I’ve been using Notion for a long time, initially it replaced my note taking Onenote and Evernote, bit with time it has replaced much more, and solved problems for what i had not found a solution yet. Mostly because of their tables functionality.
My only problem is the lack of a good offline option that can work even if Notion shuts down to allow me to backup my stuff.
Here’s their FAQ about Teams, which I would think would apply to personal as well.
What is Notion’s security like?
In terms of data safety, we use SSL everywhere, run 100% on AWS behind a VPC (based in U.S. West, Oregon), with the database encrypted at rest. We are encrypted at rest and in transit, but not end-to-end, as end-to-end encryption would make features like full text search very tricky. Our team follows thorough security protocols, and Cloudtrail is turned on at all times. On top of that, we’ve passed security audits run by large companies like Pixar and Slack.