Reclaim your brain with Notion

October 16th, 2019 ∙ Notion, Productivity

We are creatures with short attention spans. This is increasingly obvious as we have hundreds of companies battling for our attention every day. As if ads and push notifications were not enough, we also have 15 different methods that co-workers, friends, and now grandmothers can reach out to us at any time of the day.

By the end of the day, we feel exhausted because of all of these disruptions turn into distractions. We weren’t able to get anything done so we look at our social feeds to “feel better”. Now we even get less done.

Here’s how to prevent getting stuck in that rut.

Living in a world of disruptions

The worst part about these disruptions is we set optimistic expectations when it comes to planning everything out.

How we expect to accomplish tasks

How tasks are actually completed

What creative professionals need

Creative minds require a tool that allows us to quickly jot down organized thoughts. You can use almost anything to write things down (some of my friends in construction even use 2×4’s, haha). Writing things down (or “recording” the idea) is just the first step of the process:

We need a tool that minimizes the required effort to repeat this cycle. This tool has to be simple so we can move through this process quickly before our next disruption.

Thankfully, Notion exists to fulfill all of these needs.

Recording ideas with Notion

Compared to other products, Notion has a very minimal design to keep you focused. You can also construct your own workspace just as if you were playing with LEGOs — pick only the components you need.

Furthermore, Notion is a tool to enhance your thought rather than replacing it. Other tech products are incorporating “AI” to solve all of our problems for us. Notion does not make any suggestions to you. You fill it with your thoughts and Notion will never make suggestions to influence your idea.

Also instead of creating notes, you create pages. This approach forces you to structure your ideas as a “knowledge base” more than just a file cabinet full of paper. As you build a collection of pages, you can customize your views of how you see your pages. You can deal with the same data, but you can view your data as as Kanban Boards, lists, galleries, calendars, or whatever you need at that present time.

Flexible organization

The biggest thing that sets Notion apart from anything else is that you can add custom properties to each page you create. In the example below you will see that I can switch my views but also manage custom properties (the “status” and “due by” columns in the table).

No matter what view I am in, I can easily organize everything to make my review times a lot shorter to understand what I need to do next. Having the capabilities to customize my view without losing data is ideal. Notion even provides a template gallery that will match almost any workflow.

Fast review times and simple sharing with “filters” and “relationships”

Where things get really crazy, is you can embed pages inside other pages. 🤯 This is where “reviewing” and “sharing” notes become very easy, especially in a highly dynamic environment.

For example, at 521 Dimensions we have a single “master list” containing all of our projects. We then have subpages that organize information by each customer. On each customer page, we only see information that relates to their projects.

As soon as we update something on the customer project page, it instantly updates it on our “master list”. This is a huge time saver because we use the “master list” weekly to internally review what our company needs to get done. During the week, most of our work is completed directly inside the customer page. No matter where we are in the system, our data is being centrally organized and updated.

Best of all, we can share specific pages to our customers so they see the exact same data as we do (and only what they need to see). This entire process has truly reinvented how we get things done (both personally and professionally).

If I confused you more in this section, don’t worry. It’s an advanced discussion. Just focus on starting small for now. I will be releasing more articles about this in the future, so sign up on my mailing list to be notified once they are available.

Improving focus doesn’t just come from software

Let’s be real: Notion is not your “instant fix” to improve your focus. Your self-discipline dictates your ability to stay focused, but expecting to eliminate all disruptions is unrealistic.

Notion will greatly assist you in optimizing your workflow in a disruption-driven world. You’ll no longer be confused where you left off or forget that amazing shower-thought. Visualizing all of your tasks will allow you to make better decisions where any other “new priorities” actually fall.

Take only small steps at first. Track your thoughts and statuses every day. Give this enough time and you will see a huge difference in how you get things done. The results feel amazing!

What’s next

I have a ton of things that I have learned with Notion. Every day I feel like I am learning something new and making something even more efficient. If you want to learn with me, be the first to know when I have these articles released.

Disclaimer: This post is written out of complete belief. I have no financial ties to Notion other than I pay for a subscription at retail price. They did not ask me to write this, nor do I get any benefit if you do or do not sign up for Notion. This product has truly improved my life by that much I wanted to share it with my friends.

How do you like to get things done? What challenges do you face? If you have any questions let me know so that I can be sure to answer them in future posts!

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Hello! My name is Jay Rogers.

I like to have meaningful conversations with others who share the passion of continuous personal improvement. I'm the Co-Founder of 521 Dimensions where I'm a DevOps engineer that accidently ended up in application & user-experience design. 🤖🎨

Please say hello to me on Twitter, Strava, LinkedIn or my email list. I'm also a huge believer in an open Internet, so feel free to subscribe on RSS as well. I would love to hear what you are working on!