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How to use Notion to organize your life

My favorite ways to overplan with Notion

By Ellie Huizenga · January 11, 2023
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If you're a Type A personality who likes to pretend they're Type B (hi), Notion lets you get all of your super intense organizing out of the way so you can show up at the brewery and be *super chill*. 

Because Notion allows you to create pages that you can organize in basically any way you want—Kanban boards, wikis, calendars, notes, databases, you name it—it gives you all the control you crave. Here's how I use Notion to organize all the minuscule tidbits of my work and life. Don't judge me.

Outline work tasks

If I didn't have a solid to-do list and an organized calendar, I'm pretty sure my whole life would be pure chaos. I've gone through a slew of to-do list apps, and I've learned that my to-do list needs to be 100 percent right for me, or it's hard for me to follow through on my tasks. Notion has been a great solution because I can view all my tasks in one place—while still getting insight into each specific task's progress. 

For example, I have one interactive, comprehensive database where I track my work tasks. I organize my tasks by priority, so I can always see which projects need to get done first in my week.

Ellie's work to-do list in Notion
We do Friday updates here at Zapier, which is why you see it as a section on my task list. With this format, I'm able to easily use my task list to write my Friday updates.

I use the status property—which is customizable—to track the project stage of each different blog post or content piece I'm working on. That helps me see, for example, if I'm waiting for feedback or if it's time for me to outline and write.

The status field in Ellie's work to-do list in Notion

I've also created a few automated workflows that make it easy for me to keep my work to-do list up to date. Every day, I use a Zap (what we call our automatic workflows) that turns a Slack message into a to-do item in Notion.

Add new pushed messages in Slack to Notion as database items

Add new pushed messages in Slack to Notion as database items
  • Slack logo
  • Notion logo
Slack + Notion

This makes it easy for me to keep track of all the tasks that I get assigned in Slack—helping make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works.

Dump things to come back to

I'm constantly being pinged by things that I want to come back to—whether it's a text from a friend, an email, or a perfectly marketed ad. If I don't put those things on a list somewhere, they're inevitably gone forever. To help mitigate my forgetful and easily distracted mind, Notion acts as both a list tool and a notes tool

I created different pages within Notion for the many things I want to circle back on. As someone who makes lists of the lists I need to make, this organized system of subpages is huge. For example, I have specific pages to keep track of podcasts, books, and music that I want to remember. 

Showing Ellie's spot to dump things in Notion

I also have a place to easily dump websites that catch my eye so I can dig deeper when I find the time. I connected my Pushed from the web list to my Zapier Chrome extension, so I can automatically send links to Notion without having to jump back and forth between apps. 

Create a reading list

As a kid, I was obsessed with making lists of what I wanted to read. Back then, I wrote my reading list in a diary covered in national park stickers. With Notion, I've brought my reading list into the 21st century.

When I was a Notion beginner, I would jot down book recommendations (for work and for fun) in a simple database. I included the title, author, and type of book.

Ellie's book list

Now, I've created a more comprehensive way to organize my to-read list in Notion. It incorporates related databases, so I can keep track of book series and add formulas. This allows me to see how many books I have left in a series and how many books I've read in a year. You can get my Notion reading list template here.

Ellie's bookshelf template in Notion

Set up monthly goals

With that Type A personality, I operate well when I have monthly goals, so I can hold myself accountable. I'm not going to pretend I always hit those goals, but having them written down gets me so much further.

In Notion, I created a separate page where I write down my monthly goals (in the checklist format to chase that lovely checkbox feeling again).

Ellie's monthly goals

I also set up a reminder within Notion to prompt me to write my next month's goals, so I'm sure to set time aside to think about what I want to accomplish next. 

Track recipes and grocery lists

Since Notion allows you to share pages, it's also a great tool to use for household chores. My partner and I have a dashboard where we track all our favorite recipes. 

Ellie's recipe tracker in Notion

This dashboard makes it super easy for us to meal plan and write out our grocery list for the week—which we also use Notion for. Since we both have the Notion app on our phones, we can check off our groceries in real-time. Now, instead of being overwhelmed (and grabbing random items) at Trader Joe's, we can get the things we actually need. 

Read more about my Notion recipe list—and get the template.

So that's my overplanning—really, just the tip of the iceberg. If you're looking for one tool to organize every minuscule thing, Notion is a great choice. But whatever you decide, remember: don't be embarrassed by a system that works for you.

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A Zap with the trigger 'When I get a new lead from Facebook,' and the action 'Notify my team in Slack'