How I use Notion for journaling, todo lists, and everything else

@March 12, 2019

Getting to Notion

First and foremost, it’s important to make Notion easy to get to. I’ve put the app in the bottom row on my phone, and installed the desktop app on my laptop. Building a journaling habit is hard, but reducing friction here can make it easier.


The Home Page

I’ve created a home page at the root of my workspace. It’s like an index on a 90s-era website. This is for notes that I access frequently, or want top of mind. I’ll go through a couple of these pages in detail below.

I also keep a section at the bottom for when I want to quickly write things down without thinking about how to organize it. Someone recently recommended the book Tribe by Sebastian Junger, and I’ll eventually move that into the Reading page.


The Weekly Note

The most important note is at the very top: “Weekly (2019)”. I have one page for each week. Instead of using the dates, I count upward from one to fifty-two. There’s a sense of urgency in thinking about it this way — as I’m writing, we’re already in Week 11, and it seems like the year just began.

  • Within each weekly note, I’ve added a header for each day of the week. I use the space right below the header for journaling throughout the day. The length of my entries vary from a few sentences to several paragraphs depending on the day.
  • Below the journal entry, I track daily habits. These are the same every day, so I can copy and paste them from previous days.
  • Below the habits, I try to select three things to focus on that day. These are well-defined tasks, like “Next Actions” in GTD.
  • Finally, I have a section for Quick Tasks. These are things I can do in about five minutes or less if I have time in between other events.

At the very bottom of the page, I have a Backlog. I often choose my daily tasks from this list, and copy it over from week to week.


The Notes Note

These are notes that I don’t use often enough for the front page, but need to keep over time. Some examples:

  • Weekends — a note with headers for each weekend this year. I felt like I wasn’t getting the most out of my weekends last year (it’s hard to find good camp sites at the last minute), so this note has helped me be a lot more intentional about how I spend that time.
  • College Debt Math — I’ll finally be college debt-free next month! This helped me plan that out.
  • Painting — I went through a phase where I got really into painting. I collected inspirational photos, videos with techniques, list of supplies, etc.
  • Adventure Goals — separate from my 2019 Goals, these are bucket list items. One example is getting a P2 paragliding license.

Other Home Page Notes

There are a couple of other notes that I like to have on the home page.

  • 2019 Goals — I keep this near the top as a reminder of what I’m working towards this year. Looking at your goals every so often is a good way of staying accountable.
  • Standard Day Plan — I’ve been iterating on a daily routine to follow.
  • Reading — my reading note is actually public, and you can follow along here. This tracks every book I’ve and read and thought was “worthwhile” in the last couple of years. Also several books I’m planning to read soon.
  • Product Management — I collect resources related to product management here.

Wrapping Up

I’ve built this system over time, and I’m sure I’ll continue to keep iterating. If you have a system that you love, let me know!