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8 Tips to Get Started with Notion


Hello Zen Organizer!

In episode #30: Why I Stopped Using my Bullet Journal and Went Completely Digital on Notion, I talked about the only organization tool I've been using for the past year: Notion!

I'm very satisfied with this tool. I think it can be an excellent choice for many people because it allows you to centralize all your organization in one place.

If you don't know Notion, here's a little reminder: Notion is a free all-in-one workspace. It allows you to do virtually everything you need: project management, note-taking, to-do list management, database management, collaboration work, and more!

It's a great tool if you're looking for ONE tool that gathers everything you need in one place.

The magic of Notion lies in its databases. Indeed, with Notion, you can create different types of databases: Kanban boards, tables, calendars, Gantt charts, lists, and galleries. These databases can be filtered and sorted based on the different information you need. What's more, you can link databases between them to pull information from them and combine their data.

However, because of its versatility and quantity of features, Notion is more complex to use than other organization tools. It can be hard to start using Notion without watching tutorials or taking a course at first. But don't get discouraged: once you have the basics, it's easy to use!

That's why I thought I'd share with you some tips to help you get started with Notion if you're interested in checking it out!

Determine whether Notion is for you or not

Although I love Notion, I don't think it's a tool that can cater to everyone's needs. If you recognize yourself in the following statements, then Notion might not be the best tool for you:

You're already 100% satisfied with your current organization tool(s).

Don't succumb to the Shiny Object Syndrome and stick to your current tools. You'll avoid losing tons of time and energy uselessly.

You prefer paper tools and don't like digital tools.

This one is pretty obvious since Notion is a digital tool.

However, if you're looking for a digital tool that allows you to do almost everything you can do on paper but digitally, then Notion could be the right tool for you!

You don't like having a blank page with no predefined structure and 100% customization possibilities.

When you open Notion for the first time, it's like opening a blank notebook or canvas. You have to create everything from scratch and create your own structure. If it's not something you enjoy doing, then Notion isn't for you.

You're not ready to invest time/energy/money to learn how to use it and build your organization system.

I'm not going to lie: Notion is a bit more complicated to start using than other organization tools. The learning curve is a bit longer, BUT the benefits are totally worth the effort! Indeed, Notion will allow you to do virtually anything and centralize everything in one place.

However, if you're not ready to invest this initial time and energy to learn how to use it, then I'd suggest choosing another tool.

Determine your needs

Once you understand how Notion works and everything you can do with it, determine your needs and what you want to use it for. Don't get started right away because you'll probably end up creating tons of pages that might not be useful, or you won't structure your system efficiently.

Here are some questions to help you:

  • Will you use it for both your personal and professional life?

  • What do you want to use it for?

  • What do you need to keep track of?

  • How can you organize everything you've listed above?

  • How much time are you willing to spend building your organization system on it?

Transfer your data from other apps

It's possible to import data from other software and apps into Notion. This way, you won't have to recopy by hand all your data.

You can directly upload content from these apps:

  • Evernote

  • Asana

  • Trello

  • Confluence

  • Workflowy

  • Quip

  • Microsoft Word and Excel

  • Google Drive

You can also import different types of files into Notion:

  • Plaintext (.txt)

  • Markdown (.md or .markdown)

  • Microsoft Word (.docx)

  • CSV (.csv)

  • HTML (.html)

Start simple

It's tempting to transfer your whole organization and life onto Notion, but you only risk getting discouraged by doing this (especially if you weren't able to transfer your data from your other apps/software).

So start with simple pages and databases like your to-do list, a database to keep track of your readings, a database for your ideas, pages with your notes from your courses/books/podcasts.

As you get to know the tool better and determine your needs, it'll be easier to add more data to your workspace.

Take the time to learn the basics

As mentioned before, Notion's learning curve is a bit longer than other tools'. But once you know the basics, it's not complicated to use.

Since I love Notion so much and truly believe it's an amazing tool, I've created a free 1-hour training to help you learn its basics.

In this training, you'll learn how to use the basic functionalities of Notion: everything you can do to set up your pages, the difference between pages and databases, the different available databases, the different properties of the databases, how to use databases efficiently thanks to the views, filters and sorts, and more.

With these basics, you'll already be able to use the power of Notion!

You can find the training in the Zenly Organized Library.

Free Notion Training Subscription

Don't create too many databases

The power of Notion lies in its databases. When you first get started, you might tend to create a lot of databases for different things.

I suggest refraining from using too many databases and consolidating similar information in one database instead. You'll be able to filter your databases thanks to the properties and the filters to only see the information you need.

For example, don't create a database for your personal tasks and one for your professional tasks. Create one database that will contain all your tasks.

Don't create too many levels of pages

Just as with the organization of your desktop or files in general, the maximum number of levels to create to maintain the efficiency of a filing system is three. Having more than three levels of pages on Notion — that is creating a page inside a page, and then creating another page inside that last page — will make it much more difficult to find the page or information you're looking for.

That's why it's very important to think about the structure of your Notion workspace beforehand.

Create a few relevant top-level pages and then nest the relevant sub-pages in them. For example, for your personal organization, you can have a top-level page called "Kitchen Organization" and then nest your sub-pages "Menu", "Recipe Ideas", and "Master Grocery List" in it.

Don't download tons of templates

It's especially important if you don't know how to use Notion well and how to adapt those templates to your needs. Templates are great to have an initial idea of how to structure something, but it's important to be able to adapt that structure to your needs.

I hope these tips will help you get started with this amazing tool!

I wish you a zenly organized week,


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