Tips for Notion settings that will make it easier for you to start experimenting with Notion
The first impression with Notion is usually exciting. So many things you can do, so many ideas pop up, so many challenges to conquer. And Notion settings feel so smooth and intuitive. Immediately you want to bring everything in your digital life into Notion.
But then comes sobriety. Notion is indeed powerful and flexy, yet it takes time (and thinking) to configure how to make the most of this pile of great features. How to make the joy of using Notion practical, effective and useful.
At the end of the road, you’ll make Notion your own, with a customized setup that answers your needs and fits your way of doing things. The road to a working solution might be long. Notion’s learning curve is surprisingly steep.
These beginners’ tips will shorten your adaptation to Notion, furthermore, your way to controlling your Notion workspace, and the path to a decision about Notion.
Get the basic setup
The basic Notion toolset includes a web app, mobile app (Android or iOS), and a web-clipper (browser extension). There’s also a desktop app (PC or Mac) for your convenience. If your work in a right-to-left language, you’ll need an extension for the text-direction change.
Create two accounts
One account will become your workspace, when and if you choose to continue with Notion. The second account will help you experiment with the collaboration and sharing features on your way to a decision.
When creating a Notion account the outcome is a workspace. It comes with some defaults that you can change to fit your needs and style or to delete. Everything that is related to the workspace is shown on the left side menu.
Be ready for a makeover in the way of thinking
Discovering the features is fast, utilizing them into a productivity solution takes some time. It also takes effort and rethinking about things.
If you are enthusiastic about trying Notion, you probably come with an idea of the productivity needs and the solution you hope for. That’s OK and a good place to start the journey. However, let Notion surprise you with better ideas.
Everything you learn and understand while experimenting Notion will serve you well and be highly beneficial, even if you choose another platform as your productivity base.
The free version of Notion has all the features so you can test everything for free. When you reach 1,000 blocks in a workspace, then you need to start paying. It maybe sounds a lot, but you’ll get there very fast with your testing.
If you really want to examine Notion, pay a yearly fee for a personal account ($4\month). It’s an investment in your digital productivity knowhow and skills.
Before you pay – play
The first steps in Notion (after carefully reading this Notion Settings guide, of course):
- Explore the template library, focusing on the database capabilities.
- Examine every block. Read the basics in the Notion guide.
- Watch some videos for beginners.
- Try your own ideas. Experiment template buttons.
- Move pages and block between places.
All this will give you a good sense of whether you want to continue deeper with Notion or find an alternative. Now the experiment begins.
Start with a personal wiki
It is tempting to challenge Notion’s declaration of “All-in-One App”. Do it on the “playing” phase. Now it is time to focus. If you succeed in one aspect of your life, the rest will follow.
A personal wiki is the best starting point because:
- You have full control over everything, without depending on anybody else.
- All the content is yours, and most of it already exists elsewhere.
- You can combine databases and silos and – the two power features of Notion.
While building your personal wiki in Notion, record ideas and notes for the other solutions you will want to have in Notion. One of your pages \ notes in the personal wiki would be titled “Notion Setting Ideas.” Put it in the favorites section.
Set an inbox
Anything relevant to your activities in Notion starts its way in the inbox.
The inbox should be a database page with a very simple structure. The defaults of the web-clipper contain a title, URL, and create time. Simplicity is crucial for the inbox because while moving stuff in Notion, the moved page automatically gets the target’s properties.
Create an archive workspace
Sometimes, while experimenting, you want things out of the way, but you don’t want to delete them yet. Having a second workspace, where you can move things to, is the recommended way to put stuff aside. The less comfortable alternative is to create an archive silo in your primary workspace.
Put everything under a home page
Structuring a workspace is absolutely free. Apparently a workspace will have few areas – personal, professional, commercial, finance, etc..
Putting everything under a home page makes navigation clearer and easier.
Have a template zone
In Notion you can create templates for repeating tables, blocks, and pages. When you create a new item or page it is added locally, where the Template Button is located in your workspace. In a loaded workspace, this could cause clutter and difficulties in finding the items you just created.
Best practice for notion settings is to set a template zone where all new items created from templates are added. After creating the new item, drag or move it to the place you need it to be.
Databases, pages, views – this is an advanced tip, you should start ASAP. Important in any productivity environment.
Clear your trash
Deleted items are stored in the trash, ready to restore or to be deleted permanently. That is not unusual, but in Notion there is no way to empty the trash, only item by item.
To keep the trash clean, make it a habit to sweep it daily or at least once a week.
Always create a database from a table
Databases are one of the most powerful features of Notion. In a database, you can organize information that can be sorted or filtered by various properties you define in the database. Every database can be viewed in a table form, kanban style board, gallery, or calendar.
You can start a database from each one of the views, but we recommend to do it from the table view and then add the other views. Start from the table view even if you will use the kanban view or the calendar view more. The reason is that a database that started from the table view avoids any problems when connecting between databases.
Create database items outside the database
Sometimes it is easier to create a new item outside the database and when it is ready to drag or move it into the database, where it automatically gets all the properties. This is most useful when dealing with content databases.