What is Notion?
Notion is a productivity and organization tool that allows you to create and manage notes, tasks, projects, and databases all in one place. It is available as a web, desktop and mobile application for Mac and Windows. Users can create custom templates, collaborate with others, and integrate with other apps and services. The best part about Notion is that it is completely free out of the box. There are paid tiers, but most people do not need those unless you really get into Notion.
Notion vs. Something like OneNote
What makes Notion better than other note taking apps? Well, it’s not just note taking, it’s a struc That’s one of the fundamental features, but the real power is that it’s an open structured canvas for you to put your notes, tasks, pictures, embedded links, databases and projects all in one place. Why would I chose something like this over OneNote? First off, it’s NOT a Microsoft product (however Microsoft is trying to develop their own called Loop, if that tells you anything). OneNote was great as a product that was your “digital notebook”. However, Notion has taken this idea and decided that a more consistent structure was necessary to keep your workspace clean.
Organize, document and take control of your information.
Notion is not like other word processing programs, as it is built around blocks. Each section is considered a block, and this can be numerous things. Text, Headings, To-Do list items, Bullet Points, quotes, dividers, callout blocks, pictures, etc.
All you have to do to change a block is type “/” and Notion will present you with it’s list of options.
The best part is that each block is drag and drop. You can easily rearrange or indent your sections, and you can even convert them to a different type by clicking on the left side and changing to other type.
The Two Reasons I Started Using Notion
The first thing that I loved about Notion was that you can create pages within pages. It starts first with your first page, which could be considered your “notebook”. Then any page you make under this first page is just another page within your notebook.
The second thing I loved about Notion was how easy it was to drag and drop outside information into Notion. Got a picture from your phone you want to include in your document? Just drag it in and it creates it’s own block. Got a PDF you want to embed into Notion? Just drag it in.
Why Do You Need It?
I only started using Notion at first because of it’s note taking abilities. However, once I started using it, I discovered how much more powerful it is and how central it is to my daily life.
The Power of Databases
Databases are an advanced feature of Notion, which you do not need to understand when you first use it. They would be too complex to go over in this article, but I will cover them in the future. How do I use databases? Let me give you a few examples:
- A simple database can be “movies I want to see”. You can then create a list of movies you want to see if you think of something. Every-time you think of a new movie, you just add it to the list. You could then create categories for each movie, such as “horror” or “action”. When you are in the mood for a certain type of movie, you merely reference the list and filter based off the type of movie you want.
- If you want to keep a list of URLs, you can make a Notion database to keep track of these. If you visit a website that you think is helpful for you, and you’d like to return to, simply add it to your database instead of filling up your bookmarks in your browser. You could also include notes about “why” you want to return to the URL so you can recall in the future. There are also plugins in your browser which make it extremely easy to add to this list (check out Notion Web Clipper in Chrome)
- For my work, I have a database with every name for all of our clients. For every database item, a page is created for each client. I use these page to write down anything I do for each client. I’ll write notes, create documents, take pictures, write commands or code that I use. If I ever need to recall what I did for the client in the past, I’ll just go back and look at what information I have under that company. I can also categorize each client based off their contract type, geological team, or any information I decide. I can then filter my list by only clients with a certain contract type if I need.
Build a website out of Notion.
I plan on building a whole series of articles around this, but I’ve built my website using Notion and Super.so. This isn’t the only tool that creates Notion websites, but it is the best one for SEO optimization.
This article does not scratch the surface for the capabilities of Notion. That is why I think everyone should be using Notion. Whether it’s creating helpful databases to organize your life, running your website, or simply taking better structured notes that sync to all of your devices, I think Notion is one of the best free tools that you can start using right now.
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