A while ago I promised I will share what my Notion set up looks like. I promise I did not forget. This summer was full of new adventures, challenges, and personal changes – making my Notion set up change constantly. In this post, I will be sharing one main use I have for Notion. Notion is a super powerful all in one productivity app that lets you do basically anything. From tables (aka databases) to simple notes, Notion can do it. Balancing work and volunteering has been something I have been doing for over 3 years now. I used to not keep track of tasks in too much detail and just used my memory to store what I needed to do next, but guess what? The brain is not made to store information, at least not in this way.
If we are constantly thinking about what the next to-do item is, we will not be able to focus because of the fear of forgetting our tasks. The best way, and most efficient way, is to write everything down and get it out of your brain. This is where Notion comes into place. I have been using Notion for about 8 months now as my one and only task management tool. I know there are plenty of other task managers such as todoist, things3, or ticktick, but the ability to connect my tasks to other aspects of my workflow has been a game-changer.
I will show you the three steps of how I manage my tasks – capturing, scheduling, and acting. As I said, it is very important to write down (or have all the actions into a task management system) so you are not using your brain RAM thinking about what you need to do.
I will first start by showing you three different ways I capture tasks. The more natural way I do it is via the inbox I have set up in Notion. This inbox is set up to display tasks for which I have not set a project or due date. I use this for day to day tasks that I just happen to get or remember during the day. Another way I do this is directly on the project page or in the meeting template (mainly when tasks arise during a meeting).
The second way is actually on Gmail. I use the chrome extension to create a task that needs to be done from emails I receive. This allows me to quickly go through my email and sorting the emails that need actions to those that are not important and can be archived or deleted.
Those are the two main ways I capture my to-dos. I also set up a set of to-dos in my social media content database for each time I am producing a podcast, video, or a blog post. Here is how I used a “hidden” feature of Notion which allows you to keeps information on a task when is converted into a page. This allows me to quickly create the tasks I need to produce social media content.
Here you can see I have a “child tasks” and a “parent tasks” column. I use this for tasks that need to be done consecutively, such as a podcast or video production.
The next step in this task management system is to define when a task will be done. This happens in my weekly template before the week starts. I give them a few properties such as effort level, expected hours, and if it is the “ONE Thing” to work on for the day. I took this from the ONE thing book. It allows me to set myself up for success as well as identifying the most important item on my list. If there is one thing I NEED to get accomplished, it goes to this section.
After that, I simply select the “Today view” where I can see only the task scheduled for today with a couple of different properties shown that is more relevant during the action part.
I will note that I also have a section for flagged tasks, and looking ahead. The flagged tasks are those who are overdue and need to be rescheduled. This happens once in a while but I try not to make it a habit for tasks to be overdue. The looking ahead is for tasks in the future that are high effort so I know it is coming and plan accordingly.
The last section is for “someday tasks”. These are tasks that are not very important and are there as a place holder for when I have a few extra hours to work on things.
Finally, the action part of the task management system is pretty self-explanatory. I like to use the tasks “page” to write any relevant notes or processes so I can reference them in the future.
As an engineer keeping a record of what I do is essential. Engineering is a very experimental profession. Every day we gather more and more information on what works and what doesn’t and from there new codes and standards are created. I like to gather this information in case I will be designing something similar in the future or simply need to reference back to what I did on a certain project.
This set up is continuously evolving but I am pretty content with where it is now. It allows me to see what I need to focus on while capturing all the tasks that need action from all sorts of projects and activities.
It’s worth mentioning that I have the ability to view the tasks for each project on the project page or tasks just for work on the weekly calendar. One of the challenges I have faced in the past is to focus on work while working and volunteering when volunteering. I like to see work tasks while I am at work and volunteering tasks when I am volunteering. That way I am not distracted with tasks that are not relevant.
I hope this gave you a glance into my productivity system. Let me know in the comments below if there is a particular page you want me to dive deeper into. I am planning to do another post on how I use Notion on a regular day. Covering my journal database, habits, social media, among others.