There are a ton of digital productivity and project management tools out there and Notion has been my favorite one!
In this episode I break down what Notion is, how you can use it to capture and surface important info seamlessly, and how I setup my dashboards to manage my life and run my business.
To see a complete walkthrough of my Notion Dashboard and the one found inside Pretty Productive, checkout the video tour here.
📖 Read the show notes and view the episode transcript here.
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You are listening to episode 179 of The Mindful Productivity Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Steckler. And today I am so excited to geek out with you about one of my favorite productivity tools, organization tools, Wiki tools. It's Notion. And a lot of you have been asking me for a long time to talk about how I use Notion to share more about it. Why is it so great? Is it for you? So in today's episode, I'm actually going to be walking you through my Notion dashboard. Obviously, I can't show it to you visually, but I will be showing it to you via our listening here. And you can also go view a video if you want, after listening to this podcast where I walk you through my Notion dashboard and all that I'm sharing with you inside of my new program, pretty productive life. So let's go ahead and get into this episode. I can't wait to walk you through what Notion can do. And it might just be the new tool that you want to check out for the year ahead. Welcome to the Mindful Productivity Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Steckler. And this is the place to be to live a more mindful and productive life. If you're ready to turn daily chaos into calm and start your days with intention, then get ready to join me as we dive deep into mindful living and personal productivity. It's time to connect with your true self so you can live the life you want to live. And it all starts now. Welcome back to the show, Friends. Before we get into today's episode, I thought it'd be fun to do a couple of life and business updates. What's been going on behind the scenes? What's the pace of life looking like? In the last episode that I recorded last year, I talked about the pause in between that week between the end of the year and the new year, and kind of what to do with that time. It can also be a great time, a great episode to reflect on no matter where you are in the year, because sometimes you need a pause. Well, I plan to take that full week off. In my business, things got really, really busy with designing more and finalizing more of the Notion templates that I now have available. And it got really busy. And so the pause actually extended a little bit longer. And if you run an online business, you know that when you're in the weeds doing things behind the scenes, it can be hard to do a lot of the external stuff. It can be hard to create content and get things going. So the podcast took a little breather for the past few weeks and it's really fun to get back into recording. One thing I want to also mention is that I just did an amazing podcast interview with Allison over at the podcast. But what if you did that is now airing today. I will leave a link to that in the show notes. But please go listen to Alyson's podcast. It is so good. And our interview was so much fun. She asked a ton of great questions, and we had a ton of back and forth talking about all kinds of things productivity, sensory, overload. You named it. It was a lot of fun to listen to. The other big update is that my newest program, Pretty Productive Life, is now live. It's launched. We've got, I think, twelve or 13 founding members now, so excited for all of them. And we're hosting Office Hours over the next month where there'll be replays, where we're diving deep into how to use Notion and how to really set up your life in business using mindful productivity strategies, which obviously we're all about over here. The Notion dashboard that I'm going to walk you through in a second is exactly what I use in my business. And it's also exactly what you can find inside Pretty Productive Life life. And I'm really excited, too, because we're hosting well, I'm hosting Office Hours every Friday for the next month, but we're probably going to be doing office Hours a lot more frequently than that. And so while there's tutorials inside of the course, you can get started right away. I thought it would be really fun to teach people live and have Replays available. So I wanted to share with you some of the lessons that we're going to be covering over the next five weeks. The first one that we actually did last Friday was we did a Notion set up an overview. So we went over how to use the daily dashboard that's inside of Notion. And again, we'll get into this in a second. But one thing I really love about Notion is that you can create these dashboards where you pull in any kind of information, data, resources that you want so you can create these places where all of that stuff is right at your fingertips. And during that training, we also went over setting up your days weeks and your monthly set up. One thing we're going to be talking about this coming Friday is Notion Basics. So we're going over formatting and aesthetics that's one of the things I love about Notion is that you can really customize it to what you want and how you want it to look like. And I didn't realize how important that actually was to my brain. Specifically, having a place that can be really calming, that can be light mode or dark mode or can have various images or colors really helps me stay focused and makes me feel a lot less overwhelmed. I've used a lot of different productivity tools over the years, and I think they're all amazing. But I know for me some of the other tools, like Asana or click up, I found myself frustrated because I sometimes literally just wanted to move things on the screen to a different area, and I couldn't do that. But with Notion, you totally can, which is really cool. Another one of our upcoming lessons is Intro to Databases. So Notion actually has databases which allow you to view things in all different kinds of views. So if you're a Trello fan and you like Kaban board views, you can also do that in Asana. Notion allows you to do that. And what's cool is when you create a database, you can view it in all these different views. Table views, Gantt charts, calendar views, board views, list views. I mean, it goes on and on and on, and you can create Tags and so many things within there. You can make it as complicated or simple as you want. And so we're going to be going over how databases work and what you can really do with them and all these other cool tools that you can use within them, like relations and roll ups. There's a ton of advanced stuff, but I like to keep it really simple and you don't really have to over complicate Notion, so it just depends on how advanced you want to get with it. Another one of our upcoming trainings is Intro to Your Knowledge Hub. So I'm a big fan of designing your own digital brain. And what I really mean by that is creating a place where you can not only capture information, but you can also surface information rather quickly. So you have one place where you're keeping things. And one thing I also believe as well is that there's not just one productivity tool to rule them. All right, so while I love Notion and that's the bulk of this program, we also go into other tools and other productivity places that you can use tools. So we talk about Google Workspace, we talk about other tools, and we talk about how you can kind of integrate them and what might work for you. So you might actually want to do the majority of your writing still using Google Docs. I know I do. So I don't consider Notion a good place to write a book per se. I would definitely still use Google Docs for that. So we go over all those different areas. And the last training that we have scheduled for now, there will be so many more in the future is how to design your own dashboard. So we'll be going over how to customize your space and pull in that relevant data and resources and really make something your own. So if you're interested in learning more about Pretty Productive Life and you want to get that actual tour video of the Notion dashboard inside Pretty Productive Life life, then make sure you head on over to Mindfulproductivityblog.com and you can find the link for all of that stuff there. So how do you use Notion in your life and business? Sarah, what can I share with all of you today? Well, I'm actually going to pull up my Notion dashboard, and I'm going to kind of start walking through it and hopefully give you a good explanation of how Notion works from a bigger overview perspective. Because I think one thing that can be very, very overwhelming about Notion, especially at first, is that it can be so advanced and it can get so complicated. And if you just download a free template or jump into Notion and you've got this blank space or you've got tons of databases right in front of your face, it can be like, well, what do I do with this? What can I touch? How am I not going to break this? And I really want to share with you that Notion can be, again, as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. So the best way to describe Notion is think of it like a Wiki page. So literally it's similar to Wikipedia, right? You go and you search for something, and then within a page that you find there are links to other pages, backlinks, things that are tagged. All of that Notion is similar, but it's a website where you can create that all in a personal environment. So simply by doing a backslash on Notion, you can do stuff like start typing text. You can make a page within a page. You can do to do lists, you can do bulleted lists. You can do different heading sizes, tables, numbered lists toggles quotes, dividers. Right. And all kinds of things that allow you to really format your Notion database or Dashboard, or rather with different fonts, different colors, different background colors, different emojis. And I find that that's really, really cool. So you can do columns, you can, again, have pages within pages. And so what that allows you to do is create these areas where you can see everything at your fingertips. Right. And so I'll share a screen grab of my pretty productive life dash in the show Notes of this episode if you want to take a look at it. But basically what I've done is I've created an area where I've got kind of these, like six big chunks of data. So I've got a home, personal and productivity column in my dashboard. And within each of those, I've got these different areas and pages. So I'll kind of walk you through what I have set up. But under home, I have a page for household management. I have a place for finances where I manage both of my business and my personal finances with my husband, I've got an area for family and an area for pets, weekly meal planning, a whole database that attracts orders and packages. So let me actually click in here this I love so much because at any given time, I can save what I'm tracking, what I'm ordering. Right. So I can choose whether it's a gift or something for my business. Clothing, household, personal, something for the pets. I can type in the amount I can write down, like what company I ordered it from, right. The product link to that exact website. Did you also know that you can link to Gmail so you can link to specific emails within your Gmail account? So cool and meta. Right? So that's something I will also do is sometimes I will link my confirmation email from Gmail, right, to this database so that I can go there. And then I also keep track of when it was ordered, when the expected shipping date is, what the current status is, tracking number, all of that. So around the holidays, this became so helpful for me because I didn't have to start going through or searching through all of my Gmail emails. I could just come into this database here and I've got different views. So within the database in Notion, you can create different views, right? So maybe you want to look at all your orders by the status or by the date that they were ordered. You can do all of that. And it's so, so cool. So that's one of the other things. And the last page I currently have under that home column is a place for our auto. So we have two cars. So that's the place where I've got all of our insurance information the last time we did an oil change, all of that. And that makes it really easy to access that information. It also is great because I can share this with my husband so he can get access to this Notion dashboard and he too can look up all this information. Next is my personal column. So under here, the first thing on here is I got a page for my vaccine card so I can stay up to date on when my last shot or booster was. And I can upload an image of my vaccine card. So that's really great. I really, really want to laminate my vaccine card, but I know that we're probably going to have more boosters to come. So I need to get a cute holder for it or something. But it's great to have a specific place where you have it. I've had photos of it in my photo album and that's been a nightmare trying to scroll and find it. I've also got a page for movement. And in this page I have different workout ideas, different video workouts. I've also created a database for exercises. So I actually went and just did some screenshots of some photos off of Google of different dumbbell and body weight exercises. So if I'm wanting to kind of create something or I need workout ideas, then they are all in there. I've also got a page for mental health where I'm kind of building out some stuff in there. I've got a reading garden, which is super cool and it actually looks like a whole garden. So I've got all these images of like flowers and trees and all that kind of stuff. And one of my big goals for the year ahead is to really read more for fun. And I have to start really if I'm going to make that happen. Like checking out books from the library is alone is not going to get me to do that. I need to start carving out time when I'm reading during the day. And I think my biggest issue with that is that I'm still excuse me, just very, very for lack of a better word, I still feel very addicted to my phone and TikTok and scrolling. And that's been something during the pandemic that has been really comforting. Right. Or anxiety producing, depending on what you're watching. So I really want to start unplugging more and making more time for reading and not just reading for business or reading for personal development. Really getting into books that are just fun, like steamy romance novels like yes, or any kind of other book that really just takes me out of my element. So if you have book recommendations, I would love to hear from you. Send them my way. I also love mysteries and thrillers. But anyway, this whole area, this reading garden, is comprised of different databases so that you can track books that you may own or books that you've picked up from the library. You can track things by genre. And there's also an annual book recap that shows you how many pages you read in the year, what your favorite books were, all that kind of stuff. So again, what notion really begins to help you do is really start creating self awareness in your life because you're creating these areas. And it's not that you meticulously have to track every single thing you do every minute or everything that you buy or whatever, but it does give you the option to create a catch all space where all of this stuff can happen. And that's really nice. So for example, the next page I have here is I have a whole watch list area and I've got a database here where I'm tracking shows and movies that I've either watched before or want to watch. And for example, here in the Friends area, I've got this show here and I've got things where I've created quick review stuff. So there's different Tags where I can click on things like great character development or engaging dialogue or made me think or won't be able to sleep. Right. So I can do quick reviews of movies and shows and rate things and also track the progress of where I am in the seasons. I know I've shared this before, but Friends is like my time capsule show and I'll only watch a couple of episodes at a time. I think I'm still on season six or seven and I have never watched all the episodes of Friends. And I need to because over the course of the years, just by proxy, by being human. I find out spoilers, and I'm like, no. So I don't actually know what happens at the end of Friends. Please don't tell me it's my time capsule show that I will slowly work my way through and eventually finish. But having this watchlist area is really fun, too, because it's a great place to go get ideas. Or like, you hear about a new show that you're into or like another show that's coming up in just a few days now. I think season four of Ozark, they're going to release, and I think it's the last season, and I've been so excited for that. So I totally forgot about it and then saw another trailer on Netflix. So I have that in my watch list ready to go. And during these times, sometimes TV shows and movies can be a lovely thing to look forward to. I try not to get depressed about that, but honestly, Netflix saves me some days when I'm just having a low week and I'm like, oh, there's something new to look forward to, something new to watch. So that's been something that's really helped my mental health during these times. I've also got an area where I have something called the empowerment shifts. This is a bunch of different statements and that I hear myself saying all the time. I hear other people saying all the time. And so I've got these like, they're kind of like affirmations where you hear one thing and here's how you can reframe it. So, like, for example, there's one the first one that says, it's always been too hard, right? And so that's kind of the self doubt or the frustration speaking. And so another way to reframe that could be it's a struggle I'm capable of making easier for myself, right? So I've got these different little shifts in here, and sometimes this is really great to just pop in here and read through these and be like, oh, yeah, like, maybe I'm feeling this way, but it's okay. And this is also a place where I really like to compile kind of like little lessons, because throughout my business, there's things that happen, like during a launch or when I'm putting myself out there in a new way or a new capacity. There's times where I noticed the same kind of feelings coming up. So that's a great area where I just like to write little reminders, right? Like, during a launch, you're likely going to get stressed. You're likely going to self doubt yourself about everything. So just reminding myself that those things come in waves. There's also a place for birthdays. And what's really cool is with the birthdays database, you can put in everyone's birthdays. And then I have it filtered so that when you go into a given week or month, it will automatically show you which birthdays are happening that week, that month, or whatever. And that's been really good because I really try to remember people's birthdays and I still love to send cards in the mail and stuff like that, so I really enjoy that. So the last column here in the first three is my productivity column. And this is where I have two main dashboards and I use this every single day. The first one is my daily dashboard and the second one is my business base camp. So I guess I could do a whole podcast or video on these alone. But in my daily dashboard, basically I have a reminder for the week. And this is something I'm looking at every single day, right? So I usually change, like the reminder, the weekly intentions in here every week, and then I just see them every day when I go in here. But it's got a place where I've got my task database, so I've got it filtered so I can see all of today's relevant tasks that are assigned to me or that haven't been accomplished yet, and they're all sorted by what the priority is and all of that. And then I've also got a place that shows my current projects, what I'm currently reading, and I can also track some of my daily habits. So I know without showing you this visually, it's kind of hard to explain, but I hope in just sharing this, you kind of start to see what's really possible with notion and it becomes really cool. And then in my business base camp dashboard, this is where I have business related stuff. So I'm pulling in my hub for all of my courses, software, tech, and tools so that if I'm doing something specific, I can work on those things. And another one of the biggest areas inside of this whole system is the content creation station where I can work on all of my different content. So whether that's my podcast, my newsletter, blog posts or articles, or even YouTube, which is slowly in development, I've only got a handful of videos up there on my channel. I can really start working from these. And when I go into all these templates I've created, I've got all of my workflows and my standard operating procedures within a given piece of content that I'm creating. And it becomes really easy to dump down ideas or ongoing segments or series I want to do and then drag those into databases and really utilize them. So I found that this just makes it a lot easier to create content and kind of know what I'm doing. I've been using a whole dashboard for my podcast for years now, and that really makes it a lot easier because I can track like, did I transcribe the podcast? Where is it in the production phase? Did I edit it? All that kind of stuff? And I never have to go in and check, right? I just look at that database and see what's going on. And just like any project management tool, it lets you know that information. So I love the content creation station here in my dashboard. That really helps me. And I've got all these different tools for generating titles and making sure that I'm checking SEO stuff. All that kind of stuff becomes very, very, very helpful. The main way that I use Notion is really utilizing databases. So what's really cool about databases is that you can create linked views of them. So, for example, let's say that you made a big to do list on paper. Right. And then you walked into the kitchen, but that Todo list was still sitting on your desk. What Notion allows you to do in a digital space is pull that view all that information on your to do list and see it in the kitchen without actually having to have that actual piece of paper in front of you. Right. So you can create limitless dashboards, I'm sorry, databases inside of Notion, and then you can pull them into other places, other pages, other dashboards that you create and view that data. So I have a main task database within Notion, and then I can pull that and filter it into different areas. And what that starts to allow you to do is filter things by the current day or by tomorrow or by the current week. Right. So you could have like thousands of tasks already pre populated into a task database that are arranged by your focus project or maybe stuff that you're doing for the first quarter in your business. But then you can filter them in Notions so that you're only seeing them when you need to see them. Right. That's the power of surfacing information and filtering and sorting is that you're only seeing those tasks on the given day that you're working on them. Or you're only seeing those tasks when you're looking at a specific project and you've got that view pulled up. That is where the power of Notion just like blows my mind. Because it allows you to really filter things. Right. So instead of having to shuffle through piles of paper on your desk, it would be like pulling up. Like being like, oh, Where's that one form for that one contract I'm working on and it just being like magically appearing in front of your face. That is what Notion allows you to do very seamlessly and easily. And that's why I love it so much. So about databases, I've got a ton of them, right. I have databases for tasks, projects, my days, my weeks, my months, all those kinds of things. And you can connect all of them together and you start to see things. And again, explaining this, it makes sense, but it can sound overwhelming. But inside of our program pretty productive life, we go over how this all works together. And students so far have been amazed at how easy it is to start integrating this stuff once you kind of take a look at it. So the last three columns I have in my main dashboard are for my Mindful productivity system, which is capturing, planning, and reviewing, and then producing. So under capture, I've got a place for brain dumps, I've got a place for to do reviews. And I've also got a page for tons of templates. So if you get into Notion, you're going to find that people have created tons of really cool templates that you can use, and you're probably going to want a place to store them so that they don't start taking up your Sidebar and making it really unruly. And then I've got places for planning and reviewing both by day, week and month. And again, I've got that produce column where I'm looking at stuff like my overall content creation and content plan, my blogs, newsletters, podcasts, and YouTube videos. Also, social media posts fall underneath those things, so I try to repurpose those as I create bigger chunks of content. There's so much more that's inside of my Notion dashboard, including a knowledge Center, Tags that go across the whole database. Also goals and objectives, key results of those OKRs, where you're really figuring out the metrics that you want to track so that you can actually reach your goals and objectives in your life in business. And there's also life areas that you can review, all that kind of stuff. But as a whole, I would say that Notion is definitely for you if you're someone that kind of gets bored of working in a specific way. So another thing I really love is that I can also filter tasks by energy level, so I don't go in and make this known for every single task. But if I'm working on a project and inside this course, we go over how to actually use and implement focus projects in your business with Notion. But when you're creating a project in your business, for example, you can kind of go through those tasks after you've mapped all of them out and figured out when you're doing them and why. And you can start to assess, like are these low, mid or high energy tasks. And then you can do those tasks based on your energy level and your energy management for that day, which I love because if I'm having a day where I can't really think or produce content or use my creative brain, it's nice to be able to go into a project and filter it and be like, just give me the low hanging fruit today. Just give me the tasks that I could do while listening to ASMR, while listening to a cool YouTube playlist. Give me those tasks. So again, that's another reason why I really, really love Notion. And if you're interested in learning more about how to set up your own Notion account and you want to geek out with a community of creative entrepreneurs who are doing the same thing and really want to get organized for the year ahead, then check out pretty productive life. You can find more information and again see a tour of that notion dashboard by heading on over mindful mindful productivity podcast checking the link in the show notes here. Super excited for that. We also have another live round of publish with purpose starting soon. And so there's that free master class you can go check out if you're interested in publishing your own planner and that's email@example.com. So lots of good stuff heading your way. Lots of resources available for you. If you do have questions or just want to say Hi, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram Mindful productivity blog and I hope in general that you just have a wonderful week ahead. So I'll talk to you next week. Next Monday. Have a wonderful day. Thanks for being here.