Without Notion, my life would be falling apart into disorganization and chaos right now.
What is Notion, you ask? Although Notion is, at its core, a note-taking platform, the creators describe it as an “all-in-one workspace,” an appealing description for those of us who have notes squirreled away in the notes app, throughout stacks of journals, or on piles of multi-colored sticky notes. As someone who loves digital note-taking, I have tried nearly every note-taking application out there. I’ve experimented in Microsoft Word, OneNote, GoodNotes, Evernote, Google Docs, Google Keep, Notability…the list goes on. Yet, I’ve never stuck with one platform for long, because each lacked something important to me.
But, after years of packing and moving my notes from one platform to another, I’ve finally quit wandering around, because Notion offers everything I’ve ever wanted in a note-taking app. If you’re wondering if learning yet another note-taking platform is worth it — here are seven reasons why Notion is worth your time.
- The personal plan (which offers all the essential Notion features) is free.
I hate apps that everyone raves about but cost money upfront. Thankfully, Notion isn’t one of these. I’ve been using the personal plan for several weeks now, and although I’ve been watching YouTube videos of people using premium plans, I’m able to follow along and use all the features they talk about.
Plus, you can receive some premium features for free when you register with a student email account.
- You can make your Notion pages as simple or complex as you want.
Platforms like Evernote and Microsoft Word frustrate me because they’re too simple, but platforms like OneNote confuse me because they’re too elaborate (i.e., I constantly lost notes because there was too much nesting of categories within categories).
What I love about Notion is that it allows you to take notes that are anywhere from simple to intricately complex. At a basic level, you can create pages in Notion for the various areas in your life. If you want to invest the time, you can customize your Notion pages with icons, images (Notion is automatically linked to Unsplash!), embedded links, fun widgets, highlight colors, filtered tables, calendars and reminders. You can organize recipes into cards with images, embed your favorite study soundtracks, and import widgets with Instagram-like countdown timers. Plus, Google Chrome and other web browsers offer tons of Notion extensions for clipping info from the web.
- You can get artsy and express your aesthetic here.
If you go on Pinterest and search “Notion templates” or “Notion aesthetic,” you’ll find images of beautiful layouts that others have created. Since Notion allows you to embed images, customize page layouts and add images, users have used these features to create Notion pages that are artistic and unique. Say goodbye to boring note-taking pages.
- You save time with Notion’s ability to switch views.
This is the Notion feature that had me hooked. When you use Google Sheets or Excel to create a table, what you enter into that table is what you get. But in Notion, if you create a table, you can then view that same information from multiple views: calendar view, timeline, kanban board (similar to a Pinterest board), list view, and so on. Each view displays the information you enter in a different way.
I use this view-switching in my homework planning. I have one giant table that I dump all my school assignments into, and I tag each assignment with the due date and the class. In the calendar view, I can chronologically view the due dates for all assignments; but in the Kanban view, I can see what assignments I need to complete for each class.
Add to this the fact that you can create a little checkbox and reminder for each assignment, and boom! You will never forget to write a paper again.
- You can set reminders for important tasks.
I mentioned this in point 4, but adding a reminder in Notion is fast and easy. Type “@” and follow it with the date you want to be reminded (example: “@remind today 4 pm”), hit enter, and you’ve got a reminder set up. If you have the Notion app on your phone, it’ll send you a notification so you don’t miss out!
I find that setting up reminders in Notion is so much easier than in traditional calendar apps, like Google Calendar or iCal.
- You can download pre-made templates and get started right away.
The customization that Notion offers can be overwhelming. I spent the better part of a weekend creating and customizing all my pages. But thankfully, if you’re short on time, you can search through catalogs of templates from the official Notion site or from other Notion users. Just make a copy of the template and start filling in your own info.
- You can use Notion to create your own website.
You can turn your Notion page into an unofficial website by setting the page to be shared publicly, then copying and sharing that link. Having your page come up in search results requires a premium plan, but you can still create that basic published link with the free plan. This is an easy way to create a customized CV or portfolio that you can update in real-time — no coding skills required. Also, I’ve seen YouTubers create databases full of their favorite books and movies to share with followers and friends. Similarly, you could make tables with your favorite retailers, makeup, and clothing brands and categorize them by the products they offer, their price points, your personal rating of them, etc. to share your recommendations with others.
And of course, if you want to go the premium route, you can create and host an SEO-friendly website within Notion. (Red Gregory’s site is an example of a blog hosted within Notion.)
I hope I’ve convinced you to give Notion a try! After going through nearly every note-taking platform out there, Notion embodies my ideal note-taking app. Especially as my life has gotten busier and I’ve taken on new responsibilities in my academic and personal life, I’ve needed a program like Notion to keep me organized. I feel so much less stressed now, with pages set up for the major areas in my life and pre-set notifications to remind me of important deadlines and due dates.
I’ve finally stopped looking for the perfect note-taking app — Notion has become my notebook, spreadsheet, diary, habit tracker, visual gallery, calendar, reminder app, and creative space.
What more could I ask of a free app?