A Beginner’s Guide to Notion

Have you ever felt overwhelmed during the semester, like you have a million things to do and are not sure how you will possibly get everything done? Have you tried making to-do lists but found it hard to stick to them? Well, you’ve come to the right place! 

A little background on me: I’m a fourth-year UBC student and consider myself to be pretty organized. When it comes to tasks, assignments, and exams however, I often feel stressed that I have no time to study and complete everything I need to by the deadline. I was perusing YouTube during the summer because I heard of something called Notion. I wanted to see what it was about and if it was really as helpful as people were making it out to be. 

What is Notion?

Notion is an online workspace that you can use to organize and make plans. It’s a simple productivity app similar to the Notes app on your phone but with so many more features. When you first download the app there are default pages like a quick notes page, a deadlines page, and a reading list page. You can use the app to: 

    • Write notes for class 
    • Create to-do lists 
    • Note down assignments and deadlines 
    • Calculate grades
    • Plan budget 
    • Make travel plans 
    • Set goals and so much more!

Long story short, I fell down a rabbit hole and realized there is so much you can do with Notion! I use it to keep my thoughts organized and to create to-do lists to keep track of everything during the week. There are so many ways to customize it to yourself and your needs. You can search for templates online and use them as inspiration for what you want your Notion to look like (see below for some examples!). 

Think of Notion like a blank canvas that you can make however you like: 

    • Notion works with blocks and they can be whatever you want: text, headers, images, checklist, bullet points, toggle list, etc
    • You can add images and design them in a way that inspires you and fits your vibe 
    • You can place different items on the page in a way that suits you
    • You can add anything to the page like a calendar, different lists, or links that lead you to other pages

How I use Notion?

For me, I like to have a page of to-do lists, one list for immediate tasks and one for weekly tasks so I can prioritize my tasks. Then I have a list of weekly events so I’m reminded of it every time I look at it. I also have a calendar where I input all assignments, deadlines and exams which I check off once I finish (and I must admit it is very satisfying). I like having a visual tool like that to see exactly what my week looks like. Lastly, I have a page called brain dump where I just have all my thoughts down in bullet points. I like this way of journaling because I think putting down what I feel in words helps me figure out my emotions. 

As you can see below, this is my home page where I have my to-do lists and I can see them right when I open Notion. I used online templates as inspiration and decided to go for a Studio Ghibli theme. I added the pictures (which are actually GIFs so they move!) where I want them to be. And I’ve linked my calendar in the center column so when I click it I’m taken right to the page where I have all my exams and assignments deadlines.

Even in the way I have been utilizing Notion, I think there’s so much more for me to explore and I’m excited to find more ways to benefit from it as a student. I find it’s a much better way to manage time and feel accomplished. In conjunction with Notion, I use Google calendar to organize my week so check out our other blog for tips on using that. Have you used Notion before? What are your favourite tips and tricks?

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