I learned about Notion while taking one of Meng's Design+Code courses. He shared his screen to show what is on the road map for his future content and it instantly caught my eye. It was simple and nice. He titled Notion as one of the best platforms for tracking ideas/projects/life. In the next couple of weeks, I started to explore what Notion is capable of and how it can improve the quality of my life. To my surprise, it was the tool I always lacked to bring all the ideas for my system to life and therefore improve it drastically.
What is it all about and how it is different?
To illustrate why Notion is different and so useful, let's compare it to another "note and content keeping app". In 2012 I started to use Evernote to collect links and articles I found interesting because Chrome's bookmark manager was terrible (and it is even now). It was nice to have content that resonated with me in one place but in the end, it became a dump of links and articles. It was not intuitive how to organize the content, it became hard to manage it and later I forgot about it. This year I decided to continue my journal and the obvious platform was Evernote. I don't know if there is a template capability, but I had to copy the same set of questions every time I wanted to fill in my daily questions. If an activity is not easy to perform it doesn't become a habit.
Notion, on the other hand, is highly customizable, full of templates and it's super easy to use. It makes building habits as least resistant as possible. What are these habits, and how conceptually Notion can help you to become a better version of yourself?
Athletes have 4 years to prepare for the Olympics. They have an obvious goal to be in the best shape and be the number one. Pretty obvious. The more interesting is their system to achieve that goal. How do they know if they are making progress? They have a system to track everything they can: sleep, weight, training sessions, repetitions, time, video of their training process, and subsequent analysis. There is no doubt it's more than that. They compare all this data with previous results to see if they make any progress, what can they do to improve their stats, and so on. How does this relate to me or you? Well, track the progress of our goals with a system.
If we want to make our lives better, then we have to analyze our life data so that we can improve on it and see if we become closer to our goal or not.
Everything we do in our lives either can serve to our aspirations, life quality, goals, or not. How would we make a system to see whether our actions lead to the direction we want or it puts us off track? The basic system is the following:
Actions → Goals → Guides
We should take a top-down approach to unfold the system leading from your life's guiding principles to the actions that you perform to achieve goals that lead you in the right direction.
- First, you should define your guides: where do you want to be in a year, 5 years, 10? What kind of future self you want to become? Are there areas that you want to improve?
- Second, you have to set goals that will bring you closer to your future self or in the direction you want your life to develop.
- Third, define the actions to complete the goals. You should know where does your action lead you? Does it help to achieve the goal or distracts you from it?
Life changes and so do we. We should track our life, ask relevant questions, set our life guides, work on projects and tasks that will bring us closer to the life we want. As you can see everything is tied together in the system. One leads to another. If there is a broken link - you will know about it.
Although I like the reference (it resonates with me especially being an Architect), I think that Notion is not only about planning and making a system. You can use it as a library as well as a landscape for experiments. It is highly flexible and it is up to you how you want to use it.
It is extremely hard to keep everything in our heads in the era of massive consumption, sharing, and information production. The books, the articles, the images, the movies can all be stored in a database. Throughout your life, it will expand and become a library of the knowledge you accumulated that you can use in your life, work, projects, and so on. I can imagine that in the future I could pull anything I want from this accumulated source of wisdom with the help of an AI assistant and use it.
Lastly, having a database of relevant information means you don't have to start from scratch when you need to perform something. When I need to write an article, I just look up all the ideas I input in the Articles database, choose one and start writing. But that's not all, I can also easily access Resources for that topic I collected over time. It makes it super easy to get things done when it's already there and you just want to work on bringing everything together. When you start your day you just walk through all the tasks for the day and start working on them. You don't have to think and prepare for the work which is one of the main reasons for procrastination. All this makes it easy to perform. There's no need to use your limited willpower and therefore, the system helps to form a habit.
As we saw, Notion makes everything easy - the main important part to form the habit. It lets us track our life and therefore improve it and, finally, collect a knowledge database that we can use in our professional and daily lives. The only question you should ask yourself right now is "Do you want to be in control of your life and the momentum?".