Hack Your Life with the Magic of Notion: 10 Reasons Why It Works

Are you familiar with Notion?
It’s a productivity software that can help you organize your thoughts, to-dos, projects, habits, businesses and everything that comes to mind.
It’s like a second brain if you wish, and it is what you make of it: highly customizable and free to use.

Dates. All of the dates.

Have you ever felt anxious because of all of the dates you keep in your head? A colleague asks if you want to grab lunch soon. You’re like: “what a great idea, we should definitely do it”. Then you find yourself one month later remembering how you said an enthusiastic yes to a commitment that you completely forgot about. I feel awful when this happens… just me?

Now, when someone asks me if I want to meet up in the next week, I write it down in Notion right away. The task doesn’t need to get a date assigned directly, but when I come home, I look at my calendar and see when and at what time this “date” could take place. This is how plans become reality. Even if it’s a half an hour coffee break – it feels so much better to take some time to connect with others.

In short, Notion helps me keep my social live alive as it would probably have died out without me being proactive and intentional with my social connections.

Deadlines? Notion got you.

As a student and as an employee you are bombarded with deadlines on the daily.

Do you find it overwhelming when they pile up or when unexpected events happen and disrupt your plans? When you have long to do lists and don’t know how and when to tackle it?

Prioritization is key here, and Notion’s software can become a huge anxiety relief.
I combine Notion’s to do’s with calendar blocking, which means I see what needs to get done today or during the week, and block estimated time in my calendar for the tasks to get done.

Here is an example of how you can organize your To Do’s dashboard in Notion:

Thesis research management:
paper reviews, notes, writing excerpts, hundreds of sources… HELP

When I tell you I had references for my 46 page Bachelors’ Thesis… I HAD references. Like, around 250 of them. Now, imagine I would have had a paper planner with all of my notes, ideas, who the author is… and then I would have left them on a train. Dear Lord, this would be my biggest nightmare.

After switching to a digital planner, I don’t have to worry about this anymore. All of my notes are synchronized on all of my devices and if I delete something by mistake, I can restore it from the archive.

I genuinely believe that Notion makes planning your thesis, sorting out your thoughts, following deadlines much easier.

Here is how I managed hundreds of sources for my thesis.
There are tags to indicate which topic the article focuses on, who the author’s are, the link to the article online or the pdf file, if I intend to use this source and if I’ve read it, as well as which year it was published and my notes. A life saviour!

Thesis sources management table in Notion
Look at this organized mess! It works wonders.

I also had a database / an overview with deadlines for when I should write and be done with each chapter. It kept me accountable and helped a lot to not loose track of time and write one chapter for weeks on end. This worked so well that I intend on using this system again for my Master’s. Have questions about it? Let me know!

Thesis Timeline Notion
When I needed a bit more time to work on a chapter I’ve adjusted the dates, but as time went on I’ve gotten much better with estimating the amount of time I’ll need for writing.

Year reviews & reflections in Notion

To stay on track and stay focused on my goals as well as reflect on what I’ve achieved, I have started making reviews each year. These reviews have my highlights from each month, reflections on what went sideways, what I’m proud of and what I want to improve in the following year.

Here is a snapshot of my 2021 review in Notion:

February review Notion
Some of my memories from February of 2021.

Managing side hustles, job and internship applications and habits

After completing my undergraduate degree I decided to learn about Digital Marketing and get into this field.

However, this required and still requires a lot of diligence and careful planning on my part. With the help of Notion I created a page with online courses I want to take and now I have all of my notes for each course in one place.

Plan Online Courses Notion
Here is my Online Courses page that helps me organize my independent self-paced learning and my thoughts.

Choosing a Master’s Degree

When I decided to apply to a Master’s degree I did not expect that I’d have hundreds of options to apply to. I created many overviews to help me choose which universities and programs I want to apply for. I made another overview to help me keep track of scholarship opportunities, application deadlines, fees and acceptance rates. Without it, I would have gone mad 😳
You can add many more columns…the sky is the limit here.

I must have done something right, because I got into my dream university! 🥳
The reveal is coming very soon, so stay tuned 🙉 📺

Here is a snapshot of what I mean with a Master’s overview:

Master's Overview Notion
Of course I did not apply to all of these programmes. In the end I decided on the top universities that are right for me.

Preparing for IELTS

To be able to get accepted to one of the postgraduate programmes above, there was another challenge I needed to carefully plan for: THE English Test. IELTS.
No big deal, it only costs 215 Euro! and you have to retake it if you get a lower band than 6 or 7 in one of the 4 parts: speaking, listening, reading or writing. The test is around 4 hours long.

If you have to take the exam, I feel you. To help, I have listed the best studying resources here and a useful introduction with my tips on how to master IELTS here. Make sure to check them out before you take this exam.

Without planning in advance my budget for taking online lessons on iTalki (highly recommend!) and making overviews with strategies for every part of the test, I wouldn’t have gotten as high of a score as I have.

Here is what my home page for IELTS looked like in Notion:

I prepared a separate page for the Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing parts
with useful vocabulary, structures, links and practice essays.

You can find my IELTS template with everything you need to know here!

How long is my laptop warranty valid for? What model is my dishwasher? Notion saves the day again.

You can use Notion to keep track of your belongings as well.
Especially the pricier and more important ones like Laptops, Phones, SD Drives, Washing Machines etc.
My overview of belongings has saved me a lot of hassle when my dishwasher broke or when I couldn’t figure out how to use my microphone and forgot where the manual was.

Here is what such an overview of things can look like in Notion:

Things overview Notion
Yes, my E-Piano was pretty expensive. But it was worth it and it brings me joy so I’m okay with it😉

You can include links to the manuals, invoices, where you bought the item, when and for how much you want to sell it, and so much more! Are you amazed yet?

Try it out and let me know what you think.

There are many more ways in which you can make Notion work for you. If you need tips or have some ideas you’d like to share, contact me. I’d love to help you out!

Did you like this post? Check out my blog for more on student life, IELTS prep and learning to organize the mess that is life. More Notion content is coming soon as well!

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