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If you’re someone who’s interested in productivity, setting goals, planning, or anything like that, you’ve probably come across Notion.
I did too.
As someone who has tried many productivity-related software available online, I run to try it out as quickly as I could once I learned what it is about.
And you know what?
I regret it.
There’s nothing that would fit into fake productivity definition better than constantly creating new databases or watching endless tutorials, and that’s exactly what Notion made me do. But let’s start from the beginning.
Navigate to where you want to go:
What exactly is Notion?
Notion is an all-in-one productivity software. It allows you to write, plan, get organised, and collaborate with others all in one place. You can take notes, manage projects, add tasks… do everything you want, basically.
When you create an account, you get a clean, empty workspace which you can design from scratch. There are lots of free templates you can find on the Internet to get you started. You can even buy some on Etsy or Gumroad.
It seems like a perfect tool to boost your productivity and organisation, doesn’t it? I don’t think there is any other tool that would be more customisable than Notion. That’s the reason it’s one of the fastest growing productivity applications right now.
What is fake productivity?
Have you ever actually heard this term before? Fake productivity is all about those small, mindless tasks that feel very productive to us, but actually get us nowhere. They’re the opposite of the moving needle tasks you need to tick off to move closer to your goal.
Some common fake productive things are:
1. Dealing with “emergencies” that were caused mainly by procrastination, poor time management, or miscommunication. Switching quickly between random tasks that suddenly require your attention is very unproductive.
2. Perfectionism which is also one of the most common ways of procrastination. Nobody’s perfect, so striving to do everything perfectly is, in fact, impossible. One of my issues with Notion perfectly fits here, no pun intended. Working constantly on improving your dashboards might feel like it’s productive, while in fact eats a lot of your time.
3. Organising and striving for neatness when you don’t really require it to focus on your task at hand. If you don’t have any issues with working in a slightly messy environment, then why do you clean and organise your desk during work hours and keep telling yourself that it will make you more productive? Same applies to clearing up your master to do list a few times a week or going through your email inbox in order to achieve inbox 0, while in fact you don’t really need or want it.
Why do I believe Notion isn’t entirely a productive tool?
It’s simple, really. Tools like Notion force you to spend lots of time building your own system. That way, instead of doing something really productive, you waste lots of time building various databases and creating lots of dashboards.
Productivity tool should help you get organised and productive, not tempt you to play with it indefinitely.
I know that it all depends on your mindset and the way you use Notion because it is just a tool. Tool, that can be used in many different ways. That’s my biggest problem with it, though. It’s so versatile that can easily overwhelm you and tempt to waste more time on perfecting your setup instead of being truly productive.
My Notion story
I’m not sure when I first discovered Notion, but I believe it was a few months after I started blogging. I was in a search for a perfect app to create my content calendar, keep my task list handy, and have a space to draft my posts. None of the to-do and task management apps did the trick for me.
Notion seemed like a perfect tool compared to them.
It ticked off all the requirements I had.
So, I watched a few YouTube videos to see how it works and created an account.
Love from the first sight
It was love from the first sight. Truly. The amount of possibilities this tool gives you is enormous. I played around for weeks, trying to perfect my dashboards and create a gorgeous life hub. I moved all the notes I had scattered everywhere around me, created a content calendar, and immediately felt more organised and productive.
Paralysed by too many options
Once the dust settled, I found myself watching yet again YouTube videos on all the tips and setup tours. What I’ve created so far wasn’t enough and I wanted to improve it. I wanted to organise my entire life in Notion so I turned my not-so-great setup into an overcomplicated mess. It was very difficult to navigate it and I didn’t know what to do to organise it. The amount of possibilities paralysed and overwhelmed me. All I could think of was how to improve my setup and make it better.
Went to a rabbit hole and couldn’t find my way back
That’s when I discovered Notion subreddit. In the last couple of months, I spent hours going through it, trying new setups, duplicating others. Soon later, I found templates on Etsy and Gumroad. I’m guilty of buying one or two of them, because I truly believed they’ll help me achieve this perfect setup I haven’t been able to build on my own.
And you know what? During all that time, I believed I’m being productive because I’m “improving” my setup.
What a lie.
Now, when I think about it, it’s hard to believe that I wanted to create and sell my own templates. I’m glad I never got to do it. But, if it’s something you’re interesting in, “notion template” is a golden keyword on Etsy right now!
Perfecting my dashboard and creating new databases
All that time spent on perfecting my dashboard and creating more and more and more useless databases could be spent on truly productive things like working on a blog.
I didn’t need another database.
I didn’t need an overcomplicated master task list.
All I needed was a simple productivity tool that would help me focus on what was really important instead of causing constant overwhelm and chaos. Because chaotic mess is the only way I can describe what became of my Notion workspace.
Why I’m moving away from Notion
After months of working with Notion, I feel like it’s finally time to move away from it. It’s never helped me get more organised, at least in my personal life. It works fairly well to organise my content calendar, and that’s the only reason I still use it.
I’ve already stopped drafting my posts in Notion weeks ago, because offline support is almost non-existent. Working without a stable Internet connection or on a train was very annoying. It’s also impossible to get an accurate word count, especially when you have prep notes in the same file. You can’t just select text and use a Word Counter plugin, for example, because it won’t work in Notion.
I finally realised that it’s pointless to create a perfect setup. It would be much better to just use another software or plan on a paper, if it needs to be. Using one app for everything seemed like a great idea in theory, but not in real life. There’s a reason people use Asana or ClickUp to organise their projects.
Recently, there were new features added to Notion, like subtasks for example. Something that can be so useful when you plan your goals or bigger projects. And you know what? Although I’ve been waiting ages for it, it’s so overcomplicated that’s difficult to use at all. Similar to reminders, which I truly hate.
There are lots of alternatives, although I don’t think there is anything that would be so customisable as Notion itself.
I’ve been recently trialling Obsidian and I quite like it. There is a learning curve for sure, but it’s not so steep that would make it impossible to get through.
I like the ability to work offline whenever I want to. It’s also good to know that even if the project dies someday, I’ll still have access to all my notes since they’re simple markdown files. It used to stress me out that I’d lose everything once Notion puts a pay wall or goes out of business. Literally everything, from my business blueprint to tomorrow’s to-dos.
Here are some Notion alternatives you might want to try:
Will I continue to use Notion?
That saying yes, I’ll continue Notion in some capacity. My content calendar has to stay where it is for now until I find a better way of organising it. Moving hundreds of post ideas will take some time for sure too.
I stopped planning my tasks weeks ago and removed most of my notes from Notion but there’s still a lot of them I need to go through.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to stop using Notion entirely by the end of March.
What are your thoughts on Notion, though? Share your experience in the comments down below because I’m really curious how it works for you!