Why you should stop using Notion

I’m not sure what others will think of the points made in this article but I found myself in general agreement. I gave Notion a whirl but ultimately decided it was not right for me.

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(sigh)

Gosh. I kept thinking that I was missing a Life Changing Event.

What has me now is the use of a proprietary data format (or at least a data format that cannot be exported easily if at all). I was not even immediately aware of this in my first test pass of Notion. I’ve gone through a long science/engineering career fighting to get vendors to release non-proprietary formats to their data and fighting to have to create converters, I have absolutely no respect anymore for any software in the modern world that locks in my data to their system.

By analogy, I told my class the other day that I could still run my LaTeX publication from three decades ago to get a stupendous output. Yet here I sit searching to find a way to convert classic MacWrite documents for a family member.

Time to get back to Obsidian and OmniFocus and Curio and DevonThink and …


JJW

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I also found that Notion wasn’t right for me. There are valid reasons to not choose it (I find its design for me to be too open-ended and fiddly - not ‘difficult to learn’ as the author states) but this anonymous-bylined rant is not convincing with many of its complaints either padded or wrong: it’s an eeevil subscription!; it’s web-only! (like Dynalist and many other fine [subscription!] apps); the free plan isn’t generous enough for freel̶o̶a̶d̶e̶r̶s̶ users, etc.

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I’m finding a lot to like with Notion, though it took me a bit to wrap my mind around relational databases.

But now, I’m finding it helpful as I do some course planning, especially for a new course for next semester. As I develop the course, I can keep track of learning outcomes, units, topics, readings, activities, and segments of class time — and see the relationships among them.

I’m also finding Notion useful as a digital filing cabinet of sorts, for the kinds of things I used to toss into Evernote. I may also find it helpful for managing larger projects (for some reason, those just don’t quite work for me in Things).

But Things remains my task manager, Pocket my read-it-later service (Notion’s clipper is horrible), and Bookends my tool for working with sources.

There’s no way Notion can do everything well, powerful though it is. It’s the right tool — for me, at least — for some things, but definitely not for everything.

(And if I had to pay for Notion, I’m not sure I would — and I’d fairly quickly run up against the limits of the free plan. But I have a .edu address that will never expire, so I’m fortunate to get the Personal Pro plan at no cost.)

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To me the biggest points are the lack of a solid export (making people subscribe to the Enterprise plan to export data in a useful format is a bit sketchy), and the lack of a local interface.

It’s crazy, but there are still plenty of times when I can’t access the Internet in some way and would like to accomplish something. Having all of my data tied up in a web-only tool without a local app is kind of a non-starter.

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Didn’t read the entire explanation but luckily Notion doesn’t stick with me after using for few days :smiley:

Mmm … Airtable has a calendar feed. That might be handy for some things. I’ll have to check it out.

For anyone interested, I just came across this comparison of Notion and Airtable.

Apparently neither one has offline access.

There are many fantastic service/apps that don’t have offline access. For some people that is a deal-killer (those with poor connectivity, those who need to protect data locally for privacy reasons) but with most people using mobile devices, and most people who are not using cellular-equipped devices having usable WiFi, offline-capable apps are less of a necessity. (As server-based apps, games and OSes become more capable and prevalent, this must keep some Apple execs up at night.)

Another round of the Pied Piper antipattern. Why pay people to kidnap your data and keep it hostage?

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OmniFocus at least is straight up SQLite, which makes things like this Alfred workflow possible

And if you want a simpler export, you can send it as Taskpaper. I’ve never had any concerns with lock-in in OF. (Also because it tends to be transient data in any case).

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The author lost me at “1000 blocks is ridiculously little” - it’s several months since Notion removed that limit from the free plan. If the (unnamed) author can’t be bothered to research fundamentals of the product, I 'm not going to give any weight at all to their opinions.

My own experience of Notion is that it repays some effort in working out how to use it, and it’s worked well for me. It has imperfections, but they’re not dealbreakers for me.

My one major reservation is that data is not fully end-to-end encrypted, so I can’t use Notion for confidential or client information.

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The video is from December last year. You can’t research the future.

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Hi there @acavender - Ive struggled with setting up Notion as a teaching database and would love to see what you do… I Teach biomedical science. Are you willing to share your ideas or your notion template ?

Thanks

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As a higher ed faculty, I see the strong advantages of having an app that provides one location to map objectives to outcomes to assessments to performance grades. The utility of doing this mapping is often not readily apparent to faculty, let alone that they lack the training to know how to do it, let alone also that the implementation often requires that one must jump across multiple types of apps.

While Notion would be useful try again perhaps just for this in itself, my resolute bar has to stay fixed or I will never get done with my other distractions.

Thanks for the post on this. I hope others who are using Notion without reservation might find it insightful as well.


JJW

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I started using Notion, trying to find out how to use it for my workflow. I was drawn to it because of the dashboard approach that appeals to me. I also liked it because I use a windows computer for work and Mac/iPad for home/personal use. Since it is web based it is cross platform.

I don’t intend to use Notion for task management as it is way to cumbersome to use for detailed task management. Perhaps broader tasks/projects/goals, but day to day tasks live in omnifocus. I use the web version of Omnifocus on my windows machine.

In watching many YouTube videos on Notion, I find that it’s evangelists are either students or online creators and their examples revolve around those topics. My work does not fit into those two boxes. I like the idea of notion for a shareable dashboard between my wife and I, with links to databases/pages for tracking of items/lists. Each of the items that I want to track have many apps in the AppStore for tracking them, but I like the idea of keeping them together in one place.
For example:

  • Shows/Movies I want to watch
  • Books I want to read or have read
  • Subscriptions
  • Monthly Bills (Not sure how much finance info I want to put on Notion)
  • My wife’s essential oils inventory and notes
  • Wines we like or don’t like (Beer, whiskey, etc… too)
  • For work, links to technical articles I want to save and client related notes.

I like the concept of a personal knowledge management system or second brain and being able to share content with my wife without having to show here how to use or access a bunch of different applications. I would prefer to have an application that kept the data local and backed up to the cloud. Are there any other options?

SM

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Obsidian all the way.

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I have been trying for 2 weeks to get into Notion for my own masters program and my children’s homeschool.

In regards to my own masters program, I don’t think Notion is worth it for me. All my task assignments for class go into OmniFocus. All my note writing is between Ulysses, Drafts or GoodNotes. Then it all gets archived to DEVONthink.

In regards to homeschool, I might use the same approach or just keep all the information I want to track in GoodNotes with a template. I just need to track attendance, grading, and assignments. Just checkboxes to keep us on track.

I’m turned off from proprietary formats and a few other things in Notion.

Thoughts?

Same. I have apps I use for document production, apps for managing tasks & reminders, and file storage (app or Finder). Notion is one of those apps that tries to bring it all together but between the app’s quirkiness and disadvantages, and my using other apps whose functionality is better for my needs, it doesn’t work for me either.

The app’s flexibility is such that a consumer-oriented wiki could be useful for a paying niche, so I think it can be successful in the market.

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Get the latest version of Libre office. Bring up the word processor, do an open from within the app NOT trying to make that the standard app to open up all those old MacWrite docs. They come in as untitled stuff with a few glitches if the user used some odd formatting. Save out in something you like. I’ve been saving them as Libre Office files myself.

Yes, it’s a by hand one step at a time proocess, but at least it works.

The ones I am doing date from 1993 or so.

I do basically that with DEVONThink. But since hubby is on Android and Linux they are not shared. DT would work if you both are on a Mac.

If not then I second the idea of Obsidian. It’s the most cross platform of those sorts of things.

Or do what I am considering, some sharable notes in Obsidian that I then index into my DT databases for portably on my iOS devices.