A Love Letter to Notion: The Productivity App That Stole My Heart (And Mind)
Filip Hámek
Filip Hámek
April 5, 2024
A Love Letter to Notion: The Productivity App That Stole My Heart (And Mind)

Recently, I realized how much I rely on Notion. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a productivity web app for task management, note-taking, project tracking, to-do lists, and a lot more. If you ask me, I’d describe it as a blank piece of paper that’s as flexible as you need it to be. And that’s exactly why I love Notion so much — I can use it for anything and everything.

Since I first set up my account in 2018, this handy tool has become somewhat of a live-in partner over the years, helping me keep my sanity in check both as a UX designer and in my personal life. Today, I consider Notion as my second brain. Maybe it’s my lack of imagination, but I can’t really imagine life without it anymore.

With a relationship this long and stable, I figured it’s time to give Notion some well-deserved kudos, and share the reasons for my undying love.


Back in 2013, when I was studying product design at university, the first couple of semesters painted the impression that the design process was a straightforward, step-by-step formula. I imagined I would continually jump smoothly from one task to the next, without looking back, until the project’s completion.

But then the honeymoon phase ended, and reality hit. School projects multiplied. While working part-time as a UX designer, I learned that the process of working on a new product, digital or physical, is far from straightforward. It’s rather complex, often very slow and, dare I admit, a bit mundane.

I began searching for a project management tool for my various school projects and lecture notes, one that would help me in every step of the process. Among other things, I needed a tool that could help with:

  • Mediation: As a designer, you’re managing relationships with multiple stakeholders (product managers, engineers, other designers — the list is endless). So, you need a collaborative system that allows you to tag different people and filter through the chaos.
  • Cross-communication: You’ve got to be able to manage multiple threads of communication, with quick and easy access to conversation history.
  • Putting progress on hold: Not all decisions are made in one session or meeting. Some take time and sometimes you need more data. You need a way to track work that’s put on hold, to be revisited later.
  • Actions & decision logs: The bread and butter of every designer’s life is keeping dates, deadlines, and task lists in order. But you also need to return to previous decisions and quickly understand, how did I decide that? Again, this is where a progress-tracking system comes in.
  • Prioritizing: Product designers are constantly making decisions: what comes next and what’s low priority for this sprint? What requires my attention for grooming and what solution is better for this particular problem? You need a way to effectively keep your priorities in check.
  • Collecting and sorting: As designers, we’re on a constant hunt to gather inspiration and research. It’s not something to be revisited daily, but when you need those assets, you have to be able to find them quickly.

I could go on and on, but let’s leave it there. Bottom line: I realized I needed a tool where I could quickly store notes, but also manage them effectively. I tried a few of the popular tools at the time — Trello, Evernote, Apple Notes, Microsoft OneNote — and each had its moment, but none could check all the boxes.

Then came 2018, and in walked Notion into my life.


I have to acknowledge that the most common hurdle for starting with Notion is the perceived lack of structure. The app throws a blank canvas at you with minimal navigational direction and while it does provide templates, that’s still a lot to ask from a new user. I’m not going to lie, I struggled with Notion’s complexity at first too.

In the first couple of months, I experimented with various approaches until I settled on a hierarchical tree structure (illustrated below) — a fundamental concept seen in file systems.

My Notion page structure

This structure allowed me to:

  • Build my Notion universe: Even after five years, I can confidently say I know where all my notes and docs are. I set up a landing page featuring my most-used pages and sectioned it into four groups: Daily notes, Personal life, Professional life, and a Backlog of ideas. This simple structure, on the highest level, gives me support where each new note should be created.
  • Meet my needs without limits: Notion’s unlimited page leveling lets me dive in as deep I want. Some pages are composed of databases, with each project having its own deeper structure. For example, one of the items in the work database is Emplifi page, a “project home” that sections into products I’m either responsible for or interested in.
The tree structure, from my home page to the Emplifi project home & sub-sections
Here’s a walk-through of the tree structure in action
  • Be efficient thanks to Notion’s superpowers: This tree structure is repeated throughout my whole system and can be templated. Keep in mind that every page in Notion can have multiple properties. You can use tags, labels, dates, or names to organize database views on different patterns. The one I use most commonly is “feedback type”, “status”, “delivery time” and “business value”.
Custom properties are repeated throughout my entire Notion system

I can then easily access whatever I need via my current favorite feature: keyboard shortcut to search (cmd+p), which allows me to very quickly switch between pages and projects, meetings, and so on.

The search keyboard shortcut (cmd+p) makes it super easy to switch between projects & pages


But enough structure theory. Let me show you more concretely how I use Notion in my everyday life.

In my work life

I start every workday with Notion. Using search, I jump straight to Emplifi homepage to check my daily and weekly agenda. It’s remarkable how much this system has helped me prevent burnout and reduce stress.

May Emplifi page consists of multiple parts:

  • Projects overview, long-term goals, and quick links - I revisited this part at the beginning of the year to set my goals, expectations, and evaluate successes and failures of the previous year. I return to it throughout the year to reflect on expectations. It prevents stagnation.
  • Kanban boards and calendar — I used this part of the Emplifi homepage the most. Since our work is very agile, I pop in here daily to sort the priorities for the day, week, and quarter. The most beneficial feature here is the ability to quickly move cards between weekly and quarterly boards during calls with stakeholders about the roadmap.
  • Teams database —The tree structure is again repeated in the sub-sections. Again, embedded team databases can be understood as a crossroads from the city centre to the residential suburbs. I use each team page for storing team-specific meeting notes, sorting feedback initiatives based on business value, and so on.
I have a different database for each team I collaborate with

In my personal life

As mentioned earlier, I’ve been using Notion for documenting my personal life too. As I’ll show you, that includes everything from retrospectives at the end of each year to documenting my favorite games, films I want to watch, and saving quick cooking recipes.

  • Time for hobbies: Instead of drowning in a sea of apps for different hobbies, why not create one central system in your productivity app, right? I have pages where I track movies and games and adapt them to my preferences.
  • Movie time: For movies, I use simple “Watched”/“Want to Watch” columns, where I can attach links with pretty thumbnail images.
My beloved movie repository
  • Game time- For my gaming backlog, I use a database with list views which I enhance with custom properties like “genre” or “personal review” when I want to track my experience. Those are just two examples, but I’m willing to bet that Notion can adapt to any hobby under the sun.
Games databases built around different views
  • Cooking inspiration — Notion’s database views, filterable properties and browser plugins are a match made in heaven for home cooks. If only my mom could appreciate Notion! Especially with the options to create different views on one database (15-minute meals or salads). You can also access Notion on a mobile device and take it into the kitchen.
My recipe database uses properties like “type of meal”, “time spent”, or “author”

To Notion, with love

So, that’s my sentimental love letter to Notion, hoping that it sparks some inspiration on organizing your own life. As I’ve tried to show, Notion is incredibly versatile, and my examples only skim the surface. For pro tips and tricks, I recommend you check out YouTube creators like Thomas Frank or Francesco D’Alessio’s Keep productive channel.

If you’re inspired to try Notion as your documentation sidekick, I highly recommend visiting the Notion homepage and trying it for yourself. You can get a free account, so nothing is lost. And if you’re already as in love with Notio as I am, I would be super happy to hear about your favorite use case in the comments.

With that said, I wish Notion continued success in the coming years. And here’s to another five years of a wonderful partnership!