How I Use Notion to Keep my Life in Order
An Engineer’s Use Case
Not long ago I found Notion — and the way I look I organize my to-dos, goals, notes, and organization in general changed forever.
Notion is a powerful productivity tool that can do pretty much everything you can imagine. From database tables to simple bullet to-dos and everything in between, Notion can do it.
Before I started using Notion, I had to jump across multiple apps to get things done. My “organizational suite” consisted of Google Keep, Apple Reminders, multiple Excel and Word documents, and Google Calendar.
Now, there are many uses I have within Notion, but I will just cover two specific ones — Project Management and Weekly Planning.
I am not yet an actual project manager within my profession, but the fact that I have multiple projects at a time on my plate begs the need for some sort of “personal” project management. I also have a number of personal projects such as Service-Engineering, Volunteering, Podcasting, and Family that I try to incorporate to have a balance between work and personal life without crossing the line between them.
I have a database dedicated to the projects with multiple relational databases to bring all the data together — A few include week, day, goals, and quarter. This is by far one of my favorite features of Notion. Having all the information connected and seeing how it related to other pieces of my productivity system is simply rewarding and a joy to keep track of.
I have found that when I can connect the dots between my tasks, my projects, my journal, goals, etc… It gives me a better picture of my personal state of progress and keeps me aligned with my vision and mission.
When the data is connected and the process is recorded, it is much easier to see the results from your work.
One nice thing about notion is the ability to have pages within pages. That is the case for this database. Each project has its own page with project notes, general information, and tasks.
Generally, most of my planning is done in my weekly database. I have a few items that help me stay organized and productive. It all starts with getting myself ready for the day. I start by filling out my daily journal where I prepare and reflect on what I am grateful for, look back to the previous day, and think of moments when I was at my best and moments where I was not.
Then I do something similar at the end of the day where I reflect on the day.
From there I move on to planning the week. One of Notion’s greatest features is the ability to create templates (so I don’t have to set all of this up every single time). My weekly planning consists mainly of week events (meetings, appointments, etc…) and tasks for the week. I have some placeholders at the top for things I want to improve, quick notes, knowledge, verse of the day, and quote of the day as well as my intentional relationships database so I don’t forget to reach out to my family and friends. These things really help me start motivated each day and get grounded before I start working.
And after that is where all the planning takes place. I have a view of the projects I am working on during the week (references from the master projects database) as well as my journal entries for the week (another view of what I showed you before).
Finally, the last few lines of this page are dedicated to planning my tasks in a few different ways. I have been reading The One Thing by Gary Keller and it has changed the way I plan my task. I was easily distracted by many things during the day but since approaching my tasks using The One Thing method, I have been a lot more productive. Having a task inbox has been life-changing to quickly input tasks that I can add more metadata after. Then I pick today’s task that will become my ONE thing to focus on and everything else for the day goes into the “Plan the Week” portion which I also use to plan my week on Sundays. Finally, I end this task management portion with Flagged Tasks (a.k.a. overdue tasks that I may have missed) and Planning Ahead tasks which show me tasks within a month that are high energy.
Before I found Notion, I needed multiple programs and documents to keep track of all this information. It was messy and did not show me the bigger picture nor it connected the information so nicely.
The fact that I can have pages within pages that are linked to other pages to make the project information more cohesive it is huge. Here is one example of what a project page looks like. I have project notes, some checklists for design, meetings for that specific project (linked from the master meetings database), and the tasks for the project (linked from the master tasks database). Each database has a filter that lets me see the information that is relevant just for this project.
And then I open the “Project Notes” page where I store notes about the design or general comments that I may need to reference later on. Again, here I have toggles for specific notes that have a ton more information in them.
Additionally, I can also create more pages in here if I need a dedicated space for larger notes or simply better organization.
Are you starting to realize how powerful Notion is?
As engineers, we need to keep really detailed notes and information for our designs and calculations, and Notion has made it simple. I can come back in a few months or years to a specific project and see exactly what I did and how I did it chronologically. This reduces the need for sticky notes, word documents, spreadsheets, hand notes, etc…
I hope this showed you how powerful Notion can be for project management and planning. There are a thousand other use cases that I will try to cover in future posts that have made me more aware and mindful in my personal life.
Did you enjoy this post? Do you want to learn more about how I use Notion? Let me know in the comments and feel free to share this with someone who could use this information!