The Drawbacks of Notion

2019-11-18 2295字 English

This is just my personal opinion. I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying out Notion. If you’re searching for a new productivity tool or experience, please give it a try.

My background:

  • I’m very disorganized in general. Previously, the only task management system that works is the bullet journal (first generation). Yes, I’m still using the 2013 setup - Moleskine squared notebook, “a dot” means notes, etc. The original bullet journal video: Bullet Journal.

  • My day job is a software engineer, so I have used some advanced feature in Notion. E.g. I figured out how to use Formula to calculate the time between a time range and display it in “hh:mm” format.

After 2 months of using Notion, I noticed I only enjoy using two pages: my sleep log and spending log.

Graph: my sleep log Sleep Log

The database that tracks my spending has nothing fancy, so I’ll skip it.

Otherwise, the app doesn’t meet my need. What I’m looking for a tool that helps manage my side projects and personal goals. I like the UX of Things 3 and have tried Omnifocus, but I wish I could get an editorial view for projects.

At first, Notion’s flexibility is very appealing.

However, while I could spend hours to set up the projects, epics and tasks correctly, I keep failing at executing the plans.

IMHO, this is the biggest flaw of the Notion’s UX. After everything’s set up, now what? How to help users execute the plan?

The database format makes it really hard to see the big picture or to visualize the progress and the next step. Eventually, I resort to use the page icon to signal a task’s status.

Graph: my tasks Tasks

I redesigned my workflow a few times, and watched plenty of Notion videos and checked out all official templates. Nothing works so far :(

A surprising use case: planning my novel.

I have tables for my characters, scenes, writing schedule, and a calendar for events happening in the book.

Graph: plot timeline Plot Planning

The calendar view is very helpful for plot planning. I could use it to visualize when things should happen. There are dedicated apps (e.g. Aeon Timeline) to do this and they can sync with Scrivener and Ulysses (!!), but they’re not free.

Another task that I’ve tried is to trip planning. It’s OK, I don’t hate it, but after I planned everything, I don’t read them. :(


Bullet journal and Notion are not compatible, because I think they serve completely different users. If you’re a bullet journal person, Notion (at least the database feature) won’t meet your need.

I also feel like Notion can’t replace a todo list app or a time management app.

What Notion is good for:

  • logging
  • planning small projects (with less than 10 tasks in total).

What Notion is not good for:

  • planning big or complicated projects
  • tracking long term goals, or getting a big picture of how things are going

标签:  ·  Notion ·