Bending the Notion Learning Curve

Bending the Notion Learning Curve

October 19, 2022

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Usually people fall for Notion at the very first sight, and so I did. However, when I started to dig deeper into its functionalities, my feelings started to change. I wanted to start implementing everything I learned in the tutorials, went straight for the advanced tricks, even so, no matter how hard I tried, I always ended up quite frustrated.

Unaware of the mistakes I was committing, I almost gave up, until I got some game changing reflections that helped me to bend the learning curve to my favor. Reflections I want to share today, so you can conquer the curve too:

1 - Understand the Notion Essentials

I’ve realized most Notion users have the impression of “Don’t know what to do” since this tool starts with one simple empty page. There are some basic concepts you could integrate to make your experience easier:

  • Blocks: The slightly more tricky thing to get our head around Notion is that within a page, everything is a block, this means that pages are made up of multiple blocks. The easiest way to identify one is by clicking the six dots and noticing how it highlights in light blue the block, which, by the way, you can drag and drop everywhere like there’s no tomorrow. 
  • Databases: Essentially, Notion is about pages and blocks at a basic level, but at a more intermediate-advanced level it is also about databases. To get around easier, think of databases as spreadsheets and think of pages as word documents. The table view is probably the best way to start with databases, within this table, the sort of columns you would add to a spreadsheet, therefore, are the properties you would add to Notion. Each property has a type you can select.

The crucial insight about databases is that every entry within the database is also another entire blank page.


2- Don't go complex

Now you get around with the basics, you might want to go deeper, and it takes me to my second lesson. When I discovered the very fancy functions Notion has to offer, I wanted to start using them all, although I probably didn't even need them.

Anytime you find yourself watching tutorials and discovering a new feature, don't jump right into thinking where you could implement it. Just because the function exists doesn't mean it has to be used. Don’t lose your focus from the interest you want to solve and keep it simple.

3 – Start with your own project

The best way to understand Notion from the ground up is using the tool to try to solve a problem of your own, and I got a couple of reasons why:

  • Watching tutorials and not having a purpose to implement it is probably not going to work. Watch and learn is important, but doing is the master, and what is the sense of repeating for no reason? In short: find a purpose.
  • Your mind will get obsessed with solving a problem you’re personally experiencing. Here you will find your motivation.
  • If you’re on your own, you’re free to make mistakes: delete and start all over again, try different templates, build from scratch and whatever it comes to your mind. Freedom unleash creativity.

4 —Nurture your creativity

Whatever is imposed, your brain will tend to avoid it. Even if you lack of motivation, thoughts like “I should, or I have to” will only make your learning process much harder. As Carl Jung said, “Whatever you resist, persists”. So don’t stop asking yourself questions, play with the tool and make a list of all the ideas coming to your mind, talk about it with your colleagues and relatives. Inspiration is all around us.

Having an intention that arouses your curiosity to the fullest will activate different chemicals in your brain that will release happiness hormones in your body. It will, in turn, feel it’s doing something pleasurable and unconsciously, will end up desiring more of it.

5 – Set up a reward system

This is a great dynamic if you can’t still find a motivation. Think of it like if you were a kid again, don’t you remember getting a reward after doing the right thing? Is the same now as adults. You can set whether a certain amount of time or a specific task as a goal. Every time you meet it, immediately afterwards do an activity you enjoy, such as watching an episode of your actual favorite TV Show. In consequence, your brain will associate your practice on Notion as something super positive.

6 — Boost your Confidence

Learning how to implement a great workspace isn’t an overnight task, but it's not impossible either. Despite all of these recommendations, the last one of the day is to work on your self-confidence, this will always be the key ingredient. Being hard on yourself or having negative thoughts towards the activities that lead to your goal will only raise barriers in your subconscious mind, then you will find hundreds of excuses not to get the job done.

Be patient with your progress and fall in love with failure! Just as a sailor knows the sight of birds is a symbol of land being near, our failures are that symbol of getting closer to glory.

And last but not least, there’s an amazing newsletter you might love if what you’re looking forward is to get even more ideas, inspiration, and tricks. You can find it just by filling the blank spaces below.

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