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Essentials Week highlights unexpected objects that improve our daily life a little.


I am a fan of organizational tools. Planners, highlighters, post-its – I love it all, which is why I find YouTube’s studytube faction a respite years after graduating from college.

A few months ago, an influx of studytube videos on Notion software caused my stream to proliferate. Minimalist yet customizable with more templates than I could ever imagine, Notion is like Google Drive and the Trello list maker app have a cute, beautiful baby. And yes, you can highlight some text or even simulate post-it.

I signed up for Notion, which offers both free and paid versions, and I’ve never looked back. The notion has become an essential part not only for sorting out my professional life, but also for any task that presents itself to me.

Why Notion?

The physical supplies give me that warm, fuzzy feeling, but I had a hard time finding an online system that spawns the same.

I’ve used Trello professionally, but wanted an app that does more than just lists. Microsoft OneNote or Evernote are best for taking notes, and I already have the Notes app on my iPhone for it. Notes, meanwhile, is a chaotic pile of random thoughts, subway sightings, and word dumps. Great for when I need to jot something down, but awful for productivity.

A better process was essential, especially when I got fully immunized in mid-2021 and had to juggle personal outings again. That’s when the Notion videos magically appeared on my YouTube homepage (um, more like thanks to the algorithm, but I digress).

Notion is free if you plan to use it yourself, but they also have a Personal Pro option for $ 5 per month (or $ 4 / month if you bill annually) if you want to collaborate with others, for example during planning a project or vacation. They also have options for professional teams, for $ 10 / month (or $ 8 if billed annually).

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I use Notion for free, and since I don’t work with anyone, I don’t see the need to upgrade to Pro. It is available on desktop on a MacOS or Windows browser or app, and mobile on iOS and Android. I have found it best to create and rework the pages on the desktop, but the mobile is great for reading and quick doodling if needed.

Notion offers thousands of built-in templates that benefit students and employees. Students can, for example, create a page for their class schedule, or a glimpse of their Reading list. The app is also perfect for personal organization with options like a habit tracker Where budget planner.

In addition to Notion’s own templates, users can also create and share their own. In addition, you can customize the appearance of your Notion with different fonts and colors. If you need inspiration, there are plenty of YouTube videos on how to create an “aesthetic” notion.

I’m a simple girl, so I just have my notion in dark mode. But what I love about the program is that if you’re too lazy to customize – like I am – it’s always easy to make it enjoyable anyway. You can “assign” an emoji to each page, for one, and also add a cover. Choose from the works of art Notion already owns (from stunning photographs of space to Renaissance art), or upload your own images.

Getting started with Notion

Creating a Notion account is simple: Sign up with your Google or Apple account, or with another email address. Notion will then ask you for your occupation and how you plan to use the app (in order to suggest potentially useful models), and then you’re good to go.

I’ll admit that looking at a blank notion is as intimidating as looking at a blinking cursor on a blank Word document. The number of possibilities can be overwhelming. What are you doing?

The notion has a utility Home Page on his site with some basics. The application is made up of pages, blank, a template or even imported from Evernote, Asana or other software. You can also start with a database, such as a table or a calendar:

A blank concept page.
Credit: screenshot: concept

All pages are made up of “blocks”, which according to Notion blog is a “single piece of content that you add to your page, such as a task, image, code block, embedded file, etc.” They are literally the building blocks of Notion.

To add a block to a page, press the / key and a list of options will appear. From a simple bulleted list to a calendar to an audio download – or even pages within pages! – the blocks make Notion what it is.

Diving into blocks and pages can be overwhelming, but the good news here is that there is no “right” way to do Notion. It will take time to figure out what’s best for you and your workflow, but there are tips along the way with YouTube tutorials and Notion instructions himself.

If even that is too much, take a step back. What helped me understand Notion first was figuring out what I wanted to do with it. I wanted to organize my tasks and my ideas; keep my personal to-do lists, tasks and writing in order; and outline my budget.

From there, I knew what questions to look for (on Notion’s blog, YouTube, or Google). For example: How to create a spreadsheet? How to import photos? Knowing what I wanted to do made it easy for me to find the answer. As I learned more, I also had room to experiment.

Notion’s learning curve is not due to the complexity of the application, but rather the amount of tools at your disposal. After spending about a few days learning by doing (and watching a lot of YouTube), I had finished it and was ready to scream from the rooftops how awesome it is.

How I organize my Notion

My Notion has five “hubs” based on different areas of interest.

My list of Notion hubs, including business and personal pages.

My list of Notion hubs, including business and personal pages.
Credit: screenshot: concept

These are all landing pages, which is a simple Notion page with no template. Then I created specific pages in each compartment. Here is an example in my “Mashable hub”.

Landing page for the Mashable hub, with specific pages like my due date calendar listed.

Landing page for the Mashable hub, with specific pages like my due date calendar listed.
Credit: screenshot: concept

I have three pages in this hub: a calendar, a main to-do list, and a space for ideas. For the calendar, I started with a calendar database; for the to-do list I used a tutorial on a simple checklist; and the ideas page is empty with a bulleted list.

Again, there is no correct way to do anything on Notion. It’s customizable and also a breeze to troubleshoot: hover the mouse over any page in Notion’s sidebar and you’ll see three dots, which allow you to delete, duplicate, or rename said page:

Page functions on Notion.

Page functions on Notion.
Credit: screenshot: concept

Why I like Notion

The notion is intuitive once you master it, which is just one of the reasons it has become a staple in everyday life for me this year. The variety of choice – whether in function or page style – is also a boon. And everything is accessible on my laptop, iPhone and iPad.

These factors made Notion my foolproof organizational system. I may never need another diary again.

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