I’ve used Evernote for a decade. A DECADE. Evernote (combined with a few other tools) organizes my entire life. I use it to:
- Take meeting notes
- Automated my grocery/Target list via Alexa and IFTTT
- Collect client-specific notes and research
- Save photos of recipes, my driver's license and passport, and Skitch screenshots
- Manage my career
- Run multiple businesses
- Do my business planning
- Build business communication templates
- Write blog post drafts
- Collect ideas
- Start multiple books (or let's be real... titles and outlines)
- Plan my travel
- Keep travel packing checklists
- So much more!
With some of the organizational changes happening recently and less frequent feature updates along with not being able to really export my data in a non-Evernote format, I’ve been exploring other tools.
I’ve also been bullet journaling for the last couple of years and it’s been a great way to force me to plan my days more intentionally upfront. Instead of using Evernote for this I’ve used a paper notebook (this moleskine one here). I'm not necessarily looking to replace my physical notebook but I do wonder if I could better incorporate that process into my digital life. I just started a new notebook and now I need access to notes in the previous one. And it's stuck back at home.
For the last 4 weeks, I’ve been exploring Notion. For the most part, I love it! I’m wondering what the catch is and what (other) challenges I’m going to run up against. There are a few things I haven’t figured out how to handle and a few quirks that I’m learning my way around. I’m still on the free version of Notion and am waiting to upgrade until I’ve made the final decision to switch.
Note: Three quarters through writing this draft post I hit the 1000 block limit and had to upgrade. I went back to Evernote to finish my draft but 25 minutes later ended up just upgrading Notion because I was quickly annoyed.
Here's what I've done in the last four weeks, how I organize some of my life, and what I think about Notion so far.
At first, my eyes glazed over when I saw Notion. It has some great templates but I wasn't sure what I would need or how to organize it all. Then someone mentioned sitting down and planning out my workspace. Just like I do a new notebook! And that was super helpful and how I got to here.
Similar to Evernote I have a notebook or top-level page for each client, ideas, technical notes and howtos, travel, finance, etc. My default Evernote notebook just became a dumping ground so in Notion I’ve turned my workspace into a daily landing area with a few key pages to keep me focused. Everything else will go underneath a top-level page.
This is a landing page for what I want to do in my business this year. It could be a blog post in itself, but it's broken up by quarters and then by months where I set goals. I track it here and revisit it at the end of each quarter and each year.
This is a landing page for CFPs and their deadlines, a list of talk ideas, and talk drafts.
This is a landing page for blog post ideas and drafts.
This Week contains a weekly focus (or two), personal, general business, and client-specific to-do lists, and a couple of daily trackers (meal planning/tracking, etc.).
The best part about my weekly to-do lists is that they are IN.ONE.PLACE. They used to be spread across Trello or Asana boards and to some extent, I do still keep track of work items there, but what I'm doing this week lives here and is IN.ONE.PLACE.
I keep track of my current client situation here and how much time I have available and planned for each. This changes week to week, so it's a nice overview and I can see how far out I need to start planning for more work (or less if something is ramping up).
A list of why I'm awesome (I am). These are my pats on the back, public recognition, things I knocked out of the park, little reminders when my day gets tough or when I'm having a string of tough days. It's also a place I can go to grab a few to share when I need to share my accomplishments with others.
A list of things I said no to. I'm allowed to say no, and sometimes this is super hard for me to do. I keep this list as a reminder to myself that it's ok and the world won't crash and burn if I decline yet another what it's like to be a woman in tech panel or a client engagement I know won't be right for me.
This is a new one for me, but I wanted to track rejections from conference CFPs and figured I might as well track everything I've been rejected from. It's a good way to remind myself that it's ok to be rejected and it's ok to not be perfect. In most cases, it probably just meant it wasn't right for me.
- Nesting of pages and pages and pages and pages. And even more pages. I don't actually know the limit here but so far I haven't hit it.
- Everything is a block in Notion — a chunk of text, a bullet point, an image, etc. The rearranging of blocks makes rearranging super slick. This was always something that was difficult with Evernote.
- Um, yes, the emojis. They brighten my day and make it easier to recognize specific pages or types of pages (👯♀️ Be like Beyoncé or ✈️ Travel)
- I’m writing this post from my phone. Navigating is awesome on the phone and so is formatting and rearranging blocks.
- A landing space. I spend most of my time on my main workspace or This Week page.
- The different text and highlight colors - super easy to apply rather than the default Mac color selector that looks like a lame crayon box or the color wheel. At least now I know that if I pick green I’ll get the same green every single time rather than tree green and lime green and sea green to indicate "good to go!"
- Ability to share a page publicly (though I haven’t used this yet)
- I was able to import specific notebooks and notes from Evernote and boards from Asana. I picked a couple of each to start with. There’s support for other tools too. I think this was key to me getting started in Notion. I was able to start with content I'd already built up.
- At first I didn't like that the lower-level pages didn't automagically sort by date modified. I like to have my most recent changes readily accessible. But I've found it super easy to rearrange them myself. For instance, sorting client meeting notes by date. I can name them "☎️ 09-23-2019 - client call" and then sort it my own way. Then at the end of the month or year, I can collect them into their own month or year top-level page.
- For my one user workspace, the price of Notion ($48) is less than Evernote ($69) for the year. And I can get free credit by sharing Notion with my friends. Want to sign up and get $10 in free credit while giving me some free credit too? Here ya go!
- I'm using the task board for tracking CFPs but I’m not convinced that the reminders work properly. Still need to test this out more on less important things.
- No integrations with IFTTT or Zapier. UGH. This is a hard one for me. I hear the Notion API has been "coming soon" for months.
- I’ve had some lag in typing, even as I type this out on my phone it was lagging. When I typed too fast, it crashed. On desktop, while taking calls, it's been hard to keep up with taking meeting notes.
- I don't like not (easily) being able to view multiple pages at once. I think the only way is to open a whole new Notion window (CMD+SHIFT+n) and then navigate to the page I want to view. I'd love a pop-out window. Otherwise browser tabs, but personally I'd rather use the desktop app.
- I still haven’t figured out if I want to use this for bullet journaling or just change my process (it could use some recharging).
- I’m still getting used to needing to write a quick note on the go (mobile) and then not knowing where it lands or having to file it later.
- Still trying to figure out what to do with temporary notes. Evernote's Quick Note was awesome and I just filled it with temporary notes that eventually landed somewhere or got deleted.
- My shopping list is now totally manual whereas in Evernote I could be like "Alexa add carrots to my shopping list" and IFTTT would add it to my Evernote shopping list note.
- Search. So far it's worked or I haven't needed it. But with Evernote on mobile, it's pretty much the only way I used it so I still need to figure this out in Notion and see if it will meet my needs.
Before I officially cutover and cut myself off of Evernote, I'm curious how other people are using Notion for personal and work notes management. What am I missing out on? What is not working for you? What do I need to watch out for? How can I level this up even more? Is Notion going to be around in another decade? Will Evernote pick up speed again? I guess only time will tell.