Ever since I started reading books (around 2012) I gradually started on the vertical called “Note taking”. I wasn’t very keen to taking notes during first few years of reading. But eventually I realised that little by little I end up with collection of 20+ physical notebooks in form of notes and personal insights. It becomes harder for me to keep up with things which was written in physical form.
So few years back I turned towards digital note taking with Evernote. I started writing in Evernote, take pictures of important notes I have taken in my physical diaries. It was better than sticking to physical diaries. But after using it intensely, I found one serious flaw in my digital system as well. Evernote has very rigid structure to work with. Making the story short, I wasn’t able to convert anything I have in my Evernote into any kind of Projects I can work simultaneously.
By nature I am less organised person and I am naturally inclined to work on multi-dimension at any given time. Even I read multiple books at a time which are of completely different genre. That’s how things work for me. I don’t fit into a polished definition of Productivity. I work better with my inclination which is multifaceted work. There was no system or app I have ever came across which works completely aligned with my natural inclination of having diverse range of work in diverse field.
But everything has changed since I found the App called Notion earlier this Year. This app adds tremendous value in my life. In fact in the time of pandemic, Notion has gave me purpose & meaning as something to look upto every morning when entire country was in total lockdown for about 40 days. I utilise entire lockdown as my learning curve for Notion. I have built my personal knowledge management system to address different aspects of my life. It helps me made my own system of productivity without loosing my natural pace and inclination.
First phase of my learning was external, means I watched YouTube videos on how other people are using this tool. How they use it and for which purpose they use it. There is three most important names I want to mention here from whom I have learned a lot.
Ali Abdaal. He is doctor from Cambridge University.
August Bradley. He is performance system Architect.
Marie Poulin. She is one of the most knowledgeable Notion user in the world (According to Notion CEO).
Let’s begin the short exploration journey of my Notion tour step by step.
Step 1: Daily Journal
It do multiple analysis to constantly improve my self awareness. I have built Habit Tracker, Question for Daily Reflection and Life timeline. It measure my overall productivity of and Happiness in monthly and weekly basis as per my requirements. I have learn this design from Marie Poulin.
I have designed my personal template having three question in morning and three question at night to reflect on my life on regular basis. It helps me keep my mind focus on important things in life rather being caught up in different form of busyness around us. The busyness got us false sense of promise that we are making progress but in reality it won’t add much to our bigger picture of life.
I like to track my Exercise & Meditation Routine of Morning and Evening. I have one protocol to declutter my mind oftentimes by dropping my random thoughts on paper. I call it “Non-Judgemental Writing”. And ultimately I like to track my Happiness levels (out of 10).
Each day we live adds something into our future self. I wanted to observe what I am adding to my future self.
For Example, Reading of today adds to Future Knowledge, Meditation of today adds to future’s Peace of Mind, Exercise of today adds upto Future’s Fitness etc. Most of the time we just caught up into things we come across in our day to day life without any set of priorities. But that type of living ends upto nowhere but a mediocre existence. I didn’t want to fall into that trap anymore.
2. Gratitude Journal
There are different things in life which makes us feel grateful. For next five years I decided to analyse what are the things which makes me feel more grateful about life so that I can give priorities in my life accordingly. Things which makes us feel grateful for are certain experiences, some people in our life, our accomplishments, Learning New things, Events, Things (Objects) etc. Practicing this template will allow me to understand which are really important and which are least important areas. I clone this idea I learned from one blog written by Tiago Forte.
3. Blog Factory
My consistency for publishing blog was very negligible. May be one or two blog per month if I count it based on total number of blog and time frame. The reason was my haphazardly spread writings at different place. Some were written in notebook, some were in Evernote, some were in Simplenote. There was no systematic approach I had to organise everything at one place to keep things going.
Notion has remove those hurdles completely. Now I allow my blogs evolved through different stages from Just Ideas (Rough Ideas) to Editing to Drafting to Publish. This process oriented design in Notion allows my writing to Evolve Naturally to its fruition which use to remain haphazard in past.
4. To-Do List
I am not the kind of person who can live upto hefty to-do list having so many activities in a day. That kind of hectic planing doesn’t work for me. I just put two things (or three at max) in my to do list. Moreover I have use the power of coding in my To-do list template. I choose the activity based on level of effort involved and its impact on my overall life. I believe in Steve Jobs philosophy, “Living Only Which is Truly Important” & “Innovation comes from Saying Thousand Things NO”.
If any activity has high effort but low impact in my overall life, either I refuse to do it or if it’s important then I delegate it to someone else. I mostly choose the activity of Low effort and High Impact.
5. Plant Manager
I keep 5 indoor plants in my Library space. It adds so much value in overall experience of my reading and writing experience. It’s very helpful to have framework to learn and understand the patterns of different plants. Though it’s time consuming process for me to understand this different plants and their behaviours. But will helpful for me and my brother to grow them with systematic approach. I am amateur in planting but the process & experience is worthwhile.
Equitywala.com is a firm where I go for Mutual Knowledge Sharing Purpose. This firm has very young & dynamic team lead by Mr. Hitesh Mali. I use to go there like a Nomad reader. Having no Robust Planning about which topics to discuss and which question to ask. Now I have made little system for it so that I can deliver my best.
7. Personal Home
This setup includes my goals, travel plans, spiritual experiences, delightful memories, friend list etc. Personal theories contains all the hypothesis my mind come up with after reading wide range of topics. Personal Insights are the my random thoughts I came across any time. If I learn something worthwhile, that goes to Daily Learning page. Odyssey Plan is something I have learn from Stanford University professors who wrote the book named, Design Your Life.
8. Book Notes
As I am avid reader, I am having tons of notes taken from books. It was all in chaotic form till date. But notion has entirely changed the scenario. Now I can keep all my note in organised way and in decent format. Still I am having hundreds of books to add here. But with time, everything will fall into this beautifully designed digital library in my knowledge management system.
9. Thinking Area
This area is dedicated to everything which requires my active cognitive skills or something I have decided to think upon . Decision Catalogue contains all major decisions I take and what were my thought process for making that decision. Question stack contains lots of question I have in my mind about different topics. Mental model contains my personally designed models which help me improve my decision making and make it as accurate as possible. Inspired by Richard Feynman I have defined some of my favourite problems. He once quoted that,
“You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a hit, and people will say, ‘How did he do it? He must be a genius!”
This is the place which contains all the ideas which I actively capture from the Web. All the articles I feel interested to read, All the great piece of writings I have ever came across, all the video or online class I attend, all meaningful social media post I found on the web, podcast I listen, all those things put together make this space.
11. Planet Knowledge
I have recreate the the idea of “Topic Forest” in my own way. The “Topic Forest” idea is of Valentin Perez. This Master Database alone is enough to demonstrate the power of Notion. Everything in my system has been classified by topics in master database. Topics like career, leadership, self-awareness, Spirituality, History, Business, Art etc. All the notes and information related to any particular topic is linked to master database so I can find all notes for any given topic at one place without any kind of hassle. I have created master database for people too. People like Leonardo da Vinci, Ray Dalio, Buddha, Naval etc. I can find all their lessons by picking them from master database.
This is just glimpse of my life management system in Notion. I am having so many other things in Notion such as my business, three book writing and note taking system. Due to privacy purposes I haven’t demonstrated them here.
This is not paid promotion of Notion, nor they are sponsoring me for anything. But I am so moved by this tool that I started giving demo of Notion to all my friends through Zoom, One friend at a time. All of them feel stunned by this powerful tool. I will do many more demo about notion because I just love it.