Posted in Notion

Notion Tip of the Week – Roadmap Template

Notion is known for the number of templates out there not only from Notion but from the Notion user community as well. This week I want to highlight one from Notion called the Roadmap Template.

If you’re familiar with Agile methodologies of software development the Roadmap template is a great way to kick start using Notion for planning and sprint management. Providing cards, epics, sprints, and structures for capturing user stories and requirements you can use it as is or customize it to your heart’s content. Just add a new page, select Templates, and look under Product Management.

Notion tip of the week – toggle list

If you are using Notion to create lists of content, toggle lists are a great way to focus on certain areas at a time while also keeping everything at your fingertips. You can either create a toggle list from scratch or convert a list of items into a toggle list. In either case, the toggle arrows make quick work of showing and hiding content on a page.

Sample of a toggle list in Notion
Posted in Notion, Tools

Using Notion for Travel Planning

I’m still on the Notion bandwagon, regardless of some of the issues they’ve been dealing with as of late (slow development, performance, etc.) and no better example of that is my counting on Notion on my recent vacation.

I needed to keep track of maps, travel itineraries, currency exchanges, menus, hotels, airlines, customs, expenses…the list goes on and on. Yes, I know there’s literally dozens of tools out there to do just this type of thing, but I wanted to put Notion through it’s paces and see if it could truly be a “trusted tool”. Here’s five places where Notion shined for me while traveling.

Master Task List

The ability to create a master task list of all the things needing to be done and then segment that list onto various pages focused by topic was a game changer for me. Here’s an example: in my master task list I added entries for everything I needed to pack, all the documents I needed in hand, things I had to do at home before we left, and things we needed to purchase. That’s a lot of things in one list. By adding categories (properties in Notion parlance) and then adding Linked Databases that filtered by the property, I was able to create dedicated pages for each stage of the trip and pull just those tasks that were applicable to those pages. Can’t do that with OneNote.

Embedded maps

Many tools support cutting and pasting maps into pages for easy reference. Notion takes it a step further by allowing you to embed working Google Maps into pages centered around specific locations. I created a Maps section on the home page for my trip and added a map for each city we planned to visit. Quick, easy, and convenient, I could not only see a location but zoom and pan without leaving Notion.

Google Docs links

Many of the materials we had for the trip were PDF files. Now since there were five of us sharing materials it was easier to place copies of the PDFs in Google Drive and share them from there. That wasn’t going to stop me from using Notion for them as well. Notion allows you to embed Google Docs into your pages or create links (including descriptions of the files) in a page for easy access.

Drag and drop reorganization

There’s almost no way to get a page layout in any tool perfectly right the first time. You start adding things to a page and then find there’s too much to keep organized or you want to reshuffle things to make more sense. Notion makes drag and drop reorganization a piece of cake. You can even take an item on a page and turn it into something else, like a bit of text into a page or a list into a table, with just a couple of clicks.

Galleries for organizing links

Pinterest has long been the place to go to collect, organize, and recall links from around the web in a visually appealing way. Notion gives you similar capabilities using their Gallery layouts. As part of my travel planning I wanted to keep track of things we’d seen, places we’d been, and things of interest related to our travels. The Gallery allows me to copy and paste links that immediate render into thumbnail images and live links to the original page. It turned into a great way to keep things organized on the fly.

Bonus: mobility

Notion is one of the best tools I’ve found at adjusting it’s pages and layouts to mobile friendly access. Lists restack, galleries realign, and task lists flow naturally. Unfortunately this is also one of Notion’s stumbling points: it’s lack of true offline access. If they’re able to get offline working in a reliable and consistent manner then this can easily be the go-to tool for my travels now and in the future.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite tool (or tools) for managing your travels?

Posted in Notion, Tools

The biggest knocks on Notion

If you do any research into the tool Notion online you’ll find some common complaints coming from users. These include: slow loading times on mobile, no real offline mode, and no native application for mobile use. Now I’m a fan of the tool, don’t get me wrong. It’s the closest thing to a Swiss army knife I’ve found when it comes to taking notes, organizing data, and handling images all in one place.

This could just be a case of feature frenzy but I think there is something more here. Notion is a small shop of dedicated people, but it is just that, a small shop. Making the changes needed to maintain their momentum in the marketplace is key if they want to continue growing and succeeding. Rumors have it they are working hard on coming updates to address issues such as performance and offline modes. If that’s the case, great. However perhaps dedicating a little more time to the community side of the platform, for example the “Notion Pros” program they had talked about starting, could be the best thing to buy them additional time and good will as they continue their development efforts.

I want to see Notion succeed, really I do. I just hope they remember that this type of tool is as much about the people using it as the features of the tool itself.