Last time, I told you about Notion, my favourite productivity tool. If you checked it out, I hope you got a sense of how powerful it can be to bring together note taking with workflow. But if you found it confusing, not to worry—that’s because Notion starts as a blank slate, it doesn’t hand-hold like other software.
To help you understand how you might use Notion, I’m going to show you what I call a Life Dashboard. This is a sample version of the top-level view I’ve built into Notion to keep everything in my life on track. Note that I don’t use this for my work, which I track separately—this view is for everything else.
The dashboard is divided into three main sections:
Workflow is where things get done: it takes the form of a Kanban board, so that I can easily drag items around and see what’s coming up next.
As you can see, I have columns for queue, which is where I put everything new, as well as the self-explanatory “Do next” and “Done”. I also have a “Someday / Maybe” column, which is a helpful concept from Getting Things Done; I put things here that I’m not sure I want to do, but want to consider for the future. I often add things to Someday / Maybe after listening to a book, or having a fun conversation with someone about things they’re passionate about. It’s nice to have a place to keep things you want to consider for a while, with no pressure to do anything about them.
Each item in the workflow can have a tag, such as Health, Learning, or Personal, which helps keep things organized. You can do a ton of other things to sort, organize, tag, and track items in your workflow. Each of the items in the workflow is also a full-featured page, where you can take notes, or even embed other pages, lists, or tables. Pretty cool.
The next section of the dashboard is Goals.
While the Workflow section is all about getting things done in the near-term, Goals takes a longer-term view. Of course, you can customize the table to be however you’d like, but I find these columns work best for me. I can type anything into Current Status, Next Goals, and Notes, while the Next Action column can be used to link to items in Workflow. I don’t always use this, but sometimes it’s handy to directly connect your day-to-day items with your goals. In general, I try to drive progress towards my goals through my Habit Tracker, and I keep a handy “On track” or “Focus on” label on each goal so I can easily see which ones need more attention.
The final section of the dashboard is Notes.
While I keep notes within every workflow item and goal, it’s really useful to have a place to organize all your notes that don’t directly relate to one of these. Notion allows you to link to any page from anywhere, so you can easily keep your notes in a table like this while also linking them to anywhere else, such as a goal or workflow item.
You’ll notice that I have a “Past” section here, with a page for each year. Within each of these pages, I keep a log of everything I did or experienced that is not part of my normal routine—I find this to be a great way of tracking and reflecting on things over time. I also have a “Journal” section, where I journal about thoughts, feelings, and ideas; this is a really helpful practice that I’ll write more about in the future.
The three sections come together into a single view that looks like this.
I find this dashboard view to be a super satisfying and useful way of staying organized, focused, and on track. I hope this gives you a sense of how you might use Notion to suit your own needs. Because Notion is so flexible and open-ended, you can structure it any way you choose.
Have fun with it!