I consider Notion one of the most powerful tools in a knowledge entrepreneur's stack. It helps knowledge workers to create, optimize, and organize texts. Everyone needs text, even a YouTuber writing a script or feedback to a film. Notion is often described as a personal Wiki but I'd recommend thinking of it as your personal text factory.
It must have been „notes in motion“ that gave Notion its name. I never looked it up. It is the ease of transforming text, that makes this tool so powerful.
You start with an idea and push it through the workshop until you're done or it is ready for shipment. Then you save a copy in storage and begin the next piece.
Each line a unique element
Notion uses a major text innovation that sets it apart from traditional text editors or note-taking tools, such as Word, Google Docs, or Evernote: each line or paragraph stays a unique entity. Notions calls them "blocks". So every time you hit enter and go to a new line, you have the chance to transform the type of the line which influences the styling and functionality. Is it a title, a normal paragraph, a bullet point, or a quote? Start writing and change the type of block whenever you change your mind, as Notion offers to switch between the types anytime. Apart from the usual text types that mostly serve text formatting, two useful blocks stand out: a new page and the fold-out bullet.
A page-in-page organization structure
In Notion each line can become a new page. This resembles a Wiki where it is also possible to mark a word and create a link to a new page with that name. Here an example: imagine you write a section of a document, starting with an H1 title and then a few paragraphs. Now the paragraphs are getting too long and you realize to have too much text for this section. In Notion you mark the title and transform it into a page. Voila, the paragraphs move into this new page and stop cluttering the original page. All that is left is the link to the new page in one line. This page-in-page system can go as deep as you want (a page in a page in a page in a page...).
The best part here is that you don't have to think about where to file the new page as it is embedded in the original page. If you like you can also move it somewhere else and work with references. For me this page-in-page organization works really well. I typically retrieve existing pages by search and not by browsing to them, so it doesn't really matter where they are located in the hierarchy.
Toggle lists to hide away text sections
An amazingly useful text format that Notion introduced for me first, is the toggle list. They look like bullet list entries but you can fold or unfold the content that sits behind them intended by the tab key. You can use them inside bullet lists or numbered lists but they are not confined to lists. I often create a toggle list item below a paragraph and then drag and drop complete sections of the page in them. That way I can hide them or show them on demand which helps tremendously for editing or storing research material or optional content.
Even more powerful features hide behind a simple editor
Here a few more powerful features of Notion that make it stand out for me (I can describe them in detail in the future):
- Reduced text styling options that allow to focus on text content and structure
- Effective ways to organize images and text sections in columns via drag and drop
- Pages can act as database entries with properties and multiple styles like tables, lists and kanban boards.
- Collaboration tools to share pages, commenting and tracking changes
- Notion pages can be published and used as no-code websites, wikis and dashboards
Free for personal use
As Notion is very successful among companies, they allow to use the tool completely free for personal use. This is a perfect opportunity to try it out for yourself, which I highly recommend.