How to Champion Productivity and Overcome Forgetfulness using Notion
Over the past year, I have almost exclusively started using Notion on a full-time basis. I continue to use Evernote for several things, but I am finding an increasing number of features that I get with the Notion that Evernote has not had up to this point. I’ve been a fan of Evernote for the past decade. However, the underlying technology shows its age and the limitations of Evernote's platform. Take, for instance, full Markdown support, an in-line database with features similar to Airtable or Coda, embeds, or syntax highlighting for code.
These are features that make Notion a proponent of the 21st century notetaking, list making, data collector of the current time.
I have compiled a list of my favorite ways of using Notion. I’ve created a sample site that you can view on your own time and can be copied if you decide it works for what you are doing.
Note: Evernote has released their new platform; this I shall be testing out more over the next month or so and then will release a comprehensive evalution. But for the most part, many of the features below are still not available.
Embedding Content into Pages
One of my favorite usages is using Notion as an all in one note-taking/writing/mood board platform. Instead of having links that open in the browser, I can embed a video into a page that I want to read later and then in the same window to take notes on the content. Then it is easy to share and provide anyone with the aggregated information that is needed.
Take, for instance, the following notes I took on a recent video. I was watching a video interview with Manolis Kellisof and in order to glean the information I needed. Below the video, I collected information on terms that I wanted to further research, highlight key takeaways from the interview, and record witty quips spoken within the image.
Check out the template here.
Quick Popup Site
I wanted to give my Instagram audience a landing page from my profile to link to Instead of using LinkTree, and I create a primitive landing page using Notion, which has been the popular way. There were a couple of reasons I found it more useful:
- understand my audience traffic using this trick; I can track web page views by embedding a Google Analytics link. This gives me much freedom in understanding my audience and how I might use the information to better the content of the page.
- didn’t want to pay for LinkTree: although LinkTree offers a free version, the ability to do extensive customization would have been more expensive, and as of this time, I didn’t see the need to spend more.
- more customization: Notion doesn’t give complete freedom of expression, but it is enough to showcase one’s personal style.
Kanban can be thought of as a visual way to understand what work has to be done and the progress on each task. Kanban helps to take large projects and breaking them into bite-sized pieces. There are books written about it, but it is a tool to ensure that feature creep and project snow-blindness doesn’t overtake you.
At the end of the day, a board achieves the same effect as having Post-It Notes on a wall in a digital fashion. Most recently its been a popular methodology used in software development in smaller teams where a more “professional” agile such as SCRUM or SCALE has to be done by a larger team.
Personally, I’ve been using it to track my writing. It has helped track writing projects' progress by displaying the stage at which the piece is in.
And with Notion, the actual writing can be accessed by pressing on each of the cards, leaving a seamless transition between articles without the worry of saving or even version control as with the paid version of Notion, I have the ability to see changes to the writing that occurs in the last 30 days. It is so much easier than having multiple Word documents that I have to flip through.
Mood Board / To-Do Task List
Not only are boards great for Kanban like views; I’ve also been able to change properties to become a personal Pinterest. This adds the ability to create a private mood board that is controlled by you as the user alone. As I plan for various posts for Medium, there are certain times I batch image asset aggregation for my posts which I store in a mood board to categorize the images. That way, I can iterate through images that can be used for themes in my writing. And in some cases, use to generate inspiration for my next posts.
Creating Timelines / Gantt Charts
This next feature is brand new, but I am quite excited to use it. In the past, I have needed to use a Gantt chart for a number of work projects and found that the best tool was an Excel template. There are other products that generate Gantt charts, but they can be quite pricy.
So it was a manual process, and it worked. It just required more work and rework which is fine when you are managing smaller projects. But with certain bigger projects, it would be harder to keep up with. But now, with the new Timeline feature, it makes this to be a game changer.
One of the hardest things for me to keep track of our articles to read, and articles to save. Then comes the job of categorizing by theme which can be difficult. I’ve come up with a few different ways to cull this information. First I use Feedly to sort through sources of content that I read daily. Then from there, I mark the ones I like which triggers them to save in a directory of notes in Evernote and Notion.
As for everyday web browsing, I’ve been using the Notion Clip Extension as it saves my find and stores them in a directory as shown here to the right. Once they have been added, I can then further categorize them with tags and keep the list till I either delete the link, some of them will be reads that I share with certain friends, and others make it into my Substack Newsletter. The rest are references that I keep for future nuggets of truth that surface when working through a new problem.
Writing Mathematical Equations
Probably a less used feature I find useful is writing Latex when working on technical documentation or more scientific writing. Again, this has been something that doesn’t generally come with a basic blog editor, and then you have to use another piece of software and then screenshot and add it in without editing.
Lastly, creating precursor documents such as a weekly calendar or a daily notetaking template is very valuable. Having to either create a master document and duplicate it always does the trick, but being spoiled and letting
As you can see, there are many uses of these templates. The best way to find what you will like is by looking at them and trying them out. Please do it!
Features in the Future
So I still use Evernote for certain things; one because I like being an
- Native desktop screenshots
I know Snagit or a similar screenshot tool is easy to come by; I’ve found screenshots directly saved to a page can save extra clicks that otherwise would take away from generating the best content.
- In image text recognition
- Publishing to other platforms
I have been writing a newsletter in Notion and then publishing the content on Medium and Substack. It would be wonderful to take a finished product and then post it on other platforms.
Check it out, there is much to discover, rediscover, and implement in the platform. I also hope that you find inspiration by finding new ways of being productive in your life.