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I Spent the Entire Day Figuring out the Notion App so you Wouldn’t Have to

Let’s talk about Studytube. If you are unfamiliar, Studytube is a community of YouTubers who upload videos surrounding the vast universe of education and aesthetic notebooks. You’ve most likely come across a video here and there showing you a vast array of pens and markers that are simply destined to make sure you start the school year on the perfect foot. 

In truth, as a person who oftentimes values practicality over aesthetics, I have always been a bit wary of such videos as I frequently found the tips and tricks offered by said “Studytubers” to be less about educational success and more about pretty colors. For this reason, when I started noticing videos popping up on my YouTube home screen discussing the online organization application called Notion, I was slightly skeptical. However, for the sake of going back to school, I figured it may be worth it to give the application a fair shot. 

Notion is a self-proclaimed “all-in-one” workspace for all of your notes, tasks, and everything in between. Further, it has been around since 2018 but has recently become widely popular in online study spaces. Videos covering Notion all show thumbnails of incredibly aesthetic and personalized Notion home screens that immediately draw you in. In my first attempt at figuring out Notion, I decided to simply try it out for myself without watching any tutorials or reading any information guides.

Signing up is fairly easy as they simply request your email and the creation of a password. After signing up you are brought to a home page that provides you with introductory information. From there you are quite literally able to create whatever you want. For example, you can easily create a To-Do list by clicking the grey plus sign that appears when you hover your cursor over the screen. This plus sign also allows you to create a plethora of other things you might want to include ranging from hyperlinks, calendars, boards, and essentially everything in between. To this extent, the “all-in-one” proclamation made by the application does not lie. Indeed, Notion enables you to essentially create an online organizational space wholly tailored to your organizational goals. 

However, while I continued my attempt at creating the perfect online workspace, I could not help but notice my pages did not look aesthetically pleasing whatsoever. Instead, while they were very practical and minimalist, I could not seem to curate the same vibrancy I witnessed in the Studytube thumbnails. Alas, despite my resistance, I finally gave in and watched a few videos. 

The gatekeepers of Studytube notified me that in order to create the colorful Notion spreads that are so often touted on social media, it would take multiple hours of detailing (and sometimes specific coding) to achieve. This realization was almost enough to make me give up on my Notion journey (as I, admittedly, had grown a bit attached to joining the aesthetic academia space for once) until I learned about free Notion templates. The concept of Notion templates is brilliant in that when you are clicking on the pretty thumbnails of dedicated Studytubers, in the bios of most of these videos you can actually download and duplicate the exact template you are seeing onto your Notion account. Not only that but, upon duplicating, you can completely tailor and edit duplicated templates how you see fit. 

This new information truly changed the game and pretty soon, after a bit of video surfing and template duplication, I was able to create a study space that is both practical and visually appealing (I used a free template that can be found on the website studywithara). Though it has still only been a few days, I have found my use of Notion quite effective and I really enjoy how all of my work is in one space. The journey to using Notion was undoubtedly different from my usual academic activities, yet, in the end, it certainly changed my understanding of the power of Studytube and the satisfaction of pretty colors.


Chloe is a Senior majoring in Political Science with a concentration in race, law, and human rights at Yale University. When she is not writing for HerCampus, she can be found doing yoga, drinking tea, and napping...a lot.
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