As some of you might know, I'm a big fan of Notion. I use Notion to completely organize my life with my productivity setup, but I also use it extensively for notes. There are several productivity gurus out there who have created stunning dashboards for all their note taking, however my approach is little more basic. I find that if my note taking system is too complicated, I'm less effective with it. I wanted to take you through the various ways in which Notion has helped me stay organized while learning new things. I'll also share a few templates with you to get you started on your Notion note taking journey.
Notion for Coding Notes
I watch a lot of coding tutorials online. I know many people use their text editor to take notes and write their code, which is a great way to do it as well. Sometimes I use my text editor to notate code as well. However, I find using Notion is a great way to take notes on code as well. Notion does allow you to write code with their built in code blocks. It's not like the your text editor where you can then run or test the code, but it is very useful for taking notes throughout a tutorial. I find it particularly useful when dealing with tutorials or lessons that involve other media or concepts.
For example, if I'm taking notes on a complex data structure lecture, there might be much more to that than just the code. There's theory and other principles outside the code that I want to notate. Or, another example is if there are images you'd like to save along with the code. Notion is great for instances like this where there's mixed media that you need to commit to memory.
There are two ways you can use Notion's built in coding blocks. The first is a little cumbersome where you start a new line, click the two rows of vertical lines , click 'Turn into', and choose the coding block:
Another way to select a coding block is to simply type a forward slash, begin to write 'code' and you'll see the same code block selection come up with the menu:
A final way to use code in Notion is to integrate with CodePen. I haven't tried this yet, but you can drop in a public CodePen link and embed it into your notion page. This could be a great way to for Frontend Developers to try out some code. Additionally, since the embedded CodePen is essentially a clone of the original, the changes you make to your Notion CodePen will save to the original.
Notion for Article Notes & Podcast Notes
I also use Notion to house all my notes on articles I read and podcasts I listen to. I often times wouldn't recall some of the major take aways I would have after reading a particular article or listening to a podcast. So, I wanted a way to store all of the info to review when I need it. With my Notion productivity set up, I'm able to create different projects for different things. For example, I have a project board for this blog, I have a project board for work, and I have several others that contain my notes for all facets of my life. Not only does this help me stay organized, it also helps me create new ideas and synthesize points across different articles or podcasts.
I've created a template that helps me get to note taking more quickly for articles. You can copy it here. With this template, it's much easier for me to just jump right into and article and take notes along the way. I've broken it down into sections that were inspired by Ali Abdal's Book Review template in Notion. My template consists of a breakdown of the article in 3 sentences, a place to put the key takeaways, a section to take note of who else should read this article, and lastly how I can use the information in the article in my life. I've found that this has been tremendously useful for abstracting ideas from articles so that I can apply them to my life and combine them with other ideas to create new ones.
I've also created a template to help me notate podcast episodes. You can copy it here. Similar to the article note template, it has various sections for you to break down the podcast, jot down takeaways, ideate on who else the episode would be good for, and think on how I can use the ideas in my daily life. Again, it's a great way to remember everything contained in a podcast episode without having to listen to it again, and a great way to create new ideas between podcast episodes. Shoutout to Ali Abdal on the inspiration for how to format the template.
Notion for Book Reviews
I find Notion exceptionally useful for capturing my thoughts while reading a book. Similar to the article and podcast templates, I've created a Book Review template based on Ali Abdal's book review template. Here's Ali's and here's mine. I started using this as a way to not only store any useful information from books and review it later, but also to help share it with other people. The template provides a great way to synthesize your thoughts so you can speak about the book generally with other people who might be interested as well as talk more in depth about the book with those who are reading it. I am trying to read more books and this is a great way to condense that knowledge so you don't loose anything you've learned.
Other Uses for Notion Notes
And finally, I use Notion for notes on a whole host of other things. For example, if I'm planning an event with other people, Notion is a great way to store all the information and details about the event in one central location that everyone can reference. This allows everyone to be in the know about what decisions have been made and what needs to happen next to get the event rolling. Additionally, I use Notion for taking notes on my car maintenance. I find it extremely useful to keep track of what I've had done to the car and what has needed repair or maintenance. I use this information to either warn other friends about some of the issues I've encountered or to look back at it when I eventually get a new car to see if there are any consistencies. The last use I'd like to mention is how I use it to store my favorite drinks. I have a dedicated project in my Notion that archives wine, beer, cider, whiskey, etc that I've tried and really liked. I know there are apps that are dedicated to just that, but they are often overloaded with extra features that I never use. The clunky UI/UX steers me away from them, so I just created my own database within Notion.
As you can tell, I love using Notion to take notes. I think that overall it's a great one stop shop for all types of notes. Of course, there are other ways to take notes in Notion that how I do it. One notable setup comes from Thomas Frank. You can check out his Notion note taking setup here. I encourage you to check out my templates and let me know if you like them or if they need any tweaks!