Yes, it seems certain that life post COVID-19 will be different, but that's not what this article's about. I decided to write this because although on the surface it's a departure from our normal leadership, learning and change focussed material, it actually links in with it really well, being about an enabler. Read on to find out more...
A few weeks ago, I very luckily stumbled upon Notion, an application that runs on Windows, Mac, mobile phones and in a browser.
Why I haven't discovered it before I just don't know because it's exactly what I've been looking for to organise my digital life, myself, and to a degree my business, for years.
I've long been a big fan of relational databases because of their ability to interconnect information, but though developing systems in database applications and making them available on the net is totally possible, it requires time and expertise, and generally significant user costs. I've done it for my business operations, and it works well, but expanding it into areas such as knowledge management, personal life, health and wellbeing, and integrating with other services I use online becomes a step too far.
If you look at most people's computers and the many online accounts they have for different services, what you find is lots and lots of siloed information. Folder after folder of non-connected files, website after website of great material, Spotify, Kindle, Google calendar, Slack.... the list goes on. And the problem is, it very easily becomes fragmented, so when you start work on something like a new project and need to find all the relevant information you already have, you've got a big search on your hands.
Using Notion, however, means much of that can change,. It's so simple to custom build relational databases. I only came across Notion 3 weeks ago, but already I've been able to create and implement:
What's more, it all looks so gorgeous! You can set up custom views so easily too, so if you want a list, a gallery, a timeline, a kanban view etc, it's easily done. Here's an example of a page I knocked up in a jiffy:
All of this would have taken me months using other methods, which is why so many of us don't really get round to doing it. I've still got loads to do to get the most from Notion, but to have got this far already is so motivating. I even managed to put on a week-long virtual conference at the same time as doing all this! Of course I used Notion for much of the organisation and knowledge management for the conference, a big reason for us being able to pull the event off in the timespan we had. Not forgetting lots of effort from an amazing team.
Being able to make so much progress with implementing Notion into my workflow is largely down to a number of outstanding people who post amazing content on YouTube, and on their own websites. I'd like to give a big shout out for @mariepoulin, @augustbradley, @khemaridh, @dkamaritis and @DannyHatcher for all the great learning materials they share. In particular I've found August's and Khe's work to sync really well with my approach because whilst they're amazing with tech development and implementation, what they do is grounded in helping you live the life you want to lead. They're deep thinkers: it's the quality of life and what you want to contribute to the world that comes first, with the tech then becoming an enabler. Perfect.
Of course Notion is most likely not for everyone. One potential downside is that as the information sits on Notion's servers, there's a whole load of business information I shan't be putting into it. There's a significant learning curve too. I'm a bit of a tech nerd at heart, and find it quite easy to understand how to use tech pretty quickly. However, from my perspective this learning curve is one that's so worth it because of what it then makes possible. It's SO much more than all the other to do and note apps.
To give you a flavour, here are just a few of the use cases I'm bringing to life very easily:
If you'd like to know how to add a Notion page to an existing website, get in touch because there are several little tricks you need to know which aren't immediately obvious. Since I discovered how to do it without destroying our main website, I've had a deluge of requests for this information from YouTubers ;-) I'll pull a tutorial together when I get a moment (heads up, the key is a sneaky way of setting up a subdomain and altering some code to refer to this instead of the main domain, which isn't obvious using the recommended tools).
If you're interested to learn more about how to use Notion, I can strongly recommend Kye Hy's RadReads, https://radreads.co/notion/, and August Bradley's channel on YouTube: hhttps://bit.ly/3pDV1Wc, along with Marie Poulin's Notion Mastery: https://bit.ly/2NJk24t Marie is fabulous at helping people get up to speed with Notion and its potential.
Right, I've used up the time I freed up with Notion writing this article (in my journal in Notion, then published to my site so easily) so it's back to work now 😉
If you do dive on into Notion, enjoy, and I hope you find it useful. You can get the desktop apps here: https://bit.ly/3orIx2w