top of page

What I Don’t Do in Notion — And Not Because I Couldn’t

Notion is great, but it’s not enough for everything. The more you try to force it to be everything, is the less you’ll likely get things out of it.

Notion is one of the best tools out there on the internet, and it’s not only because of what it can do. Throughout the pandemic Notion has continuously created updates that respond to their user base's needs and cases, and even responded directly to push back or updates that were less popular, such as the colour shift issue from last year.

It’s a company to stick by, because whatever you can’t do in Notion now, you’re likely to be able to do it soon, or, also as likely, you could short-cut and hire a Notion developer or a consultant to help you realise your workspace goals today. Either way, there are few limits to what can be done with Notion. Still, there are a lot of things I don’t do in Notion — and it’s not because I can’t.

Why I don’t do everything in Notion

A quick note on security:

There are a few hundred articles and a handful of great videos that will tell you about Notion security, the fact that Notion is hosted on a public server and whatever other more technical reasons to not use Notion for everything, but as a typical user who uses Notion for small business and personal use, that’s not going to be the focus of this article. Still, I think it’s useful and good to know for those considering convincing their bosses to switch to Notion, or those who want to keep more informed about their data and over digital safety. I’ll link a video for homework here:

The real reasons I don’t do everything in Notion: retention, habit friction and ‘digital clutter’.

I’ve seen a lot of productivity community friends come out online and declare this like a real tabloid confession: “I’LL ADMIT IT! I DON’T LIKE NOTION”. Or perhaps they reject the idea of total inclusion, reject the complexity. In going over their arguments, it usually comes down to the same three reasons I listed, except those three reasons were enough to turn them off from Notion altogether. Personally, I believe that’s why it’s important not to use Notion for everything, or at least, not to position Notion in that way — that without your entire life being on Notion, it’s not useful, or interesting.

Notion is entirely useful and still lifechanging even if you only use it for specific things in your workflow. Here are some insights into what I don’t use Notion for, and why:

#1 To-do lists

A GTD (get things done) system is one of the most popular case uses for Notion. I’ve tried it, and in 2020 my main mode of to-do-listing was through Notion. Alas, I decided it wasn’t the cleanest way for me because as someone who can get overwhelmed easily, having my main to-do-lists amidst all my other notes and tracking wasn’t the greatest idea. I found that whenever I got really busy when I should depend on my system the most, I was avoiding opening Notion and stuck to paper to avoid the clutter. It was a case where having my to-do list separate from everything else was a good thing and not an inconvenience.

Instead, I use a combination of To-doist, handwritten i-pad notes and for group accountability, fiveable.

#2 Quick notes

This one is fairly common, but Notion isn’t the slickest app for notetaking. Again, this has a lot to do with the volume of content one keeps in Notion, and therefore navigating to your notepad to read notes later, or even to tap in to take quick notes, isn’t as seamless as one needs. I think this is especially important for someone with a short attention space or several projects on their mind, of which, I am both.

Instead, I keep it simple with apple notes.

#3 Video scripts and blog posts

In my case, it is inevitable that all content passes through Notion at some point. But I don’t believe that Notion is the best place for long-form writing and ideation. They have recently improved this a lot by adding the ability to select text from any point in a line, and not in bars like before. Still, I think the business of writing in Notion gets me a lot. This time, that busyness comes not from what I’ve put into Notion, but the copious lines of tags, titles, features and so on take away from the text and the writing. I’ll refer to that tiny attention span of mine again, but I prefer a largely white screen or a blank page when I write. I can really zone in, and get carried away in the words — but this happens less when there are other things surrounding me. This is one of the reasons I love writing in Medium. It’s such a clean experience.

Instead of Notion, I write long-form first in either Medium or Google Drive. When I use Google Drive, I zoom in so I can only see text and white in the background.

#4 Brainstorming

Notion is often described as digital legos for adults. It’s my favourite thing about the programme — but it also makes it rigid. I feel it’s not the best place to make my imagination run. Which in a lot of ways is good for other things. I like that Notion is my space for concrete ideas, systems and plans.

For brainstorming, I prefer to use a combination of digital paper (goodnotes), figma, and even to-doist to have ideas in a separated space that can then be processed and fit into my Notion eco-system.


So what do I use Notion for?

I’d love to do an entire article and video for this another time. But in short, I use Notion largely for three things: Storing and organising information, logging progress on projects and digital project distribution.

Did you enjoy this? Consider tipping me on my ko-fi page. → To get more of this to your inbox, subscribe to my ‘non-linear lifestyle’ newsletter here.



About Me 

Hi! I’m Rae, your lifestyle creation & mindset coach for unique multifaceted, global thinkers. I’m all about out-of-the-box thinking and solutions to get you enjoying your life now and not later. My goal in life is to help people live action-packed, non-linear lives.

I’ve figured out how to unlock the potential of the sleeping innovators and game changers by helping them unlearn the training wheels society puts on us. While wondering the planet and learning 6+ languages, I’ve learnt that our socialisation is a gift and a chain. Unlock your potential through the reality of freedom ✨🏆

“The options are limitless but each path begins with the same first step: replacing assumptions”

Tim Ferris, The 4 Hour Work Week

bottom of page