The Best Notes App: How Notion Changed My Life

Note app icon

Today I would like to introduce you to an app that saves me a lot of time every day, helps me to organize my everyday life and is available on all my devices. I was originally looking for a desktop application to be able to take notes. It turned into a love for life.

Notion – the “all-in-one workspace”

But enough raving. In this article I want to give you an honest impression of Notion provide – including strengths and weaknesses. Notion itself is so rich in functionality that you could watch YouTube tutorials for days. Therefore, I limit myself to a few functions that I use particularly often or that belong to the “essentials”, so to speak. I'll guide you through Notion using some pictures and screenshots and show a few practical examples. Here we go!

My "note" blog: A mixture of notes and blog - organizing and visualizing information with numerous media, links and display options - Notion makes it possible. The workspace contains everything I need for my work and is just as flexible as I am.

What is Notation?

The company itself refers to the application as "All-in-One Workspace" and this term fits very well. As I said, I was initially looking for a "digital notebook", but Notion can do much more than that. Word processing, tables, schedules, calendars, checklists, databases, wikis, motivation boards, link directories and and and...

And every day my planner greets me on Notion. And yes, I like to work with abbreviations and (mostly accidentally) in a mixture of German and English. But fortunately I don't talk like I take notes.

With Notion there are virtually no limits when it comes to organizing and visualizing information. The tool combines the functions of Microsoft Word, Excel and OneNote in one program - and with many visual highlights. All data can even be shared with other team members, which is why Notion is interesting not only for individuals but also for companies.

With Not you can create smart spreadsheets that can even make tax returns fun ;)

Available on which devices?

Notion runs cloud-based and is very secure due to its fully encrypted data transmission. You can notate in Browser, use as a desktop and mobile app. Windows and macOS or Android and iOS are supported.

Notion converts my handwriting to text on the iPad. Unlike my former teachers, Notion can read my handwriting. Image: © Anastasia Mikhailova

I use an iPad and can also write in Notion with the Apple Pencil. The system automatically translates my handwriting as if I had typed the information on the iPad. Due to the cloud system, all content is synchronized in real time. What I write with the Apple Pencil on the iPad ends up transcribed on my MacBook thanks to handwriting recognition and I can access it at any time on the go with my iPhone.

I can create a document at any time on any device and view it from anywhere. Best practical example: The shopping list, image: © Anastasia Michailova

NotionWebClipper

A cool extra tool from Notion is the Web Clipper, which can be integrated into all standard browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox). With the Web Clipper you can easily save links to Notion to find them again later or to assign them directly to a project on Notion. Of course, this also works on the iPhone and iPad.

The Notion Web Clipper on my iPhone and my MacBook.

What does Notation Pro bring?

The free version of Notion can actually do everything your heart desires and gives you what you need as a freelancer, student or creative person in general to organize your everyday life.

With the Pro versions (either $4 or $8 per month, changes from time to time) you get unlimited file upload volume and unlimited team members or a collaborative workspace with individual sharing permissions. The Pro versions of Notion are primarily intended for companies that want to invest in their employee communication and information management. Individually, Notion also offers a personal solution for each company in case of special requests that can be regulated within the framework of a customized contract.

Disadvantages of notion

When it comes to note-taking, visualization, organization, and inspiration, there really isn't anything Notion can't do. And exactly here lies the problem. Notion is so extremely versatile that it can be quite difficult to find your way around the program at first. So you definitely have to bring some time and preferably watch a few tutorials on YouTube to be able to use the full potential of Notion. In my opinion, this is similar to Adobe Photoshop. The software can do so much that it just overwhelms you at the beginning and you have to work your way through it until you know all the important tips and tricks. In addition, it should not go unmentioned that due to the cloud system, all data is of course with Notion Labs, Inc. itself, which has its headquarters in San Francisco (USA).

My conclusion

Notion has become an integral part of my everyday life. Every morning when I open my MacBook, the first thing I almost always do is glance at my planner at Notion to gather myself and remind myself of what I have to do today. Whether as a calendar, motivation board, collection of ideas, shopping list, to-do list, link organizer or for quick notes - Notion offers a free and very versatile solution to plan and organize all matters in everyday life. Whether as an individual or as a company. At the beginning it is a bit tedious to look through all the functions and tools. And of course, it's not necessarily "the best" note-taking app out there. But if you have the time and interest and don't have a problem with the cloud system, you will definitely be able to benefit from Notion.

 

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16 comments

  1. Beatrice Willius says:

    Super thin item. What is the difference to other note-taking apps? What does the interface look like? Are there things you don't like?

    I really want to get off Evernote because Evernote has become super slow since moving to the Electron framework.

    When I started Notion for the first time, I noticed that Notion is also Electron-based: the interface doesn't look Mac-like. The dialogues are strange. For example, the template selection has no close box, but must be closed via escape.

    What does a cookie notice do in a desktop app? What do they do with the marketing cookie information? According to European law, you must be able to refuse cookies.

    No thanks.

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      I can't speak for Anastasia on the points of criticism. I installed Notion once as a test and didn't even notice the cookie notice. I think I see so many of them every day that I'm blind to them. 😂 Otherwise, Notion was a bit overloaded. Sure, it has 1000 and one options, but the GUI wasn't really my thing and the slim "Bear" is completely sufficient for me. If it will soon be able to do tables (announced!), then I have nothing left to wish for.

      • Peter William says:

        Jens, I agree with you. I contend that everyone is blind or ignorant when it comes to cookie notices.
        In one of my blogs I exchanged the Borland text for nonsense. The user confirmed to join my self-founded church etc.
        The thing was clicked away thousands of times. No one has contacted me because of the text. I'll stick to it: no one reads that shit. (Except lawyers.)

        Best regards,
        TT

        • Jen Kleinholz says:

          Haha! Yes this is good. There you see again that all this messing around with the cookie box is nonsense. They should rather ban Facebook from collecting data, then the world will be better off.

    • Hey Beatrix, thanks for your review! You asked what I don't like. The many options that you have with Notion do not necessarily make it easy and clear to use. And data protection or lack of data protection is a big problem of our time. Most don't know it well enough to recognize potential dangers. Unfortunately, data protection is not a big issue for many.

  2. Tom says:

    Notion data is in the USA.
    I don't want to be "the one", but it's up to you whether you want to control and manage HIS ENTIRE LIFE or not.

    I switched from Notion to GoodNotes + Notes. Of course it's not quite the same, but if you can create your own templates in GoodNotes via InDesign, things look a little different.

    Please note that the data no longer belongs to you at Notion.

  3. Sebastian says:

    Basically, it shouldn't matter in which country the data is stored, until data protection comes into play.

    The USA had an agreement with the EU (EU-US Privacy Shield) which was declared invalid because the US secret service has access to the data of US companies. As a non-US citizen, you have no right to take any action against it. That was the reason why this so-called adequacy decision was overturned.

    Basically, I don't care whether my data is in the USA, but when I look at the consequences (access by the US secret service and no rights as an EU citizen) I should consider organizing my life with it.

  4. Martin Schellmoser says:

    Thanks for the tip! Looks very promising and customizable. The Android app, however, gave me a bit of a puzzle at first, because no matter what I did with it, the screen stayed the same. It only worked when I reinstalled the thing.

    And yes, neither the desktop Mac app nor the Android app are native. They only show the content of the Notion website.

    But I'll definitely take a closer look.

  5. Peter William says:

    Hey guys, I read this article with great interest. It is written in a very pleasant tone. Because the author brings in her own experiences, the article is more valuable to me than cheering in other blogs.

    The text also contains the most important information for me and I was able to get a completely sufficient picture of notions.

    In particular, I find the statement "super thin article" to be inappropriate and incorrect.

    More articles from Anastasia please.

    Best regards,
    TT

  6. Ernest Mueller says:

    Hello Anastasia,
    I came across your blog through a Google search. I've been an iPad, Apple Watch and iPhone user for two months, but I only work on the PC from the desktop.
    What I'm particularly interested in is the pen input in Notion, which doesn't work that well for me (I had a "keyboard" on the Android phone that worked great).
    What do I have to do on the iPad so that I can enter notes productively with the pen?
    Sorry for the probably stupid question, but for me (an intensive PC user since 1985) the Apple world is simply complicated and often incomprehensible.
    Greetings Ernst

  7. Hello Ernst,

    thank you for your message. Normally, the iPad and Notion automatically recognize input from the Apple Pencil. But I found a video in German for you that talks about it in more detail. I hope it helps you! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F39BEF6wdpk

    Best regards,
    Anastasia

    • Ernest Mueller says:

      Hello Anastasia,
      thank you for the fast feedback.
      However, it's depressing how poorly this works. Since the video is a year old and nothing has changed, one can assume that interest in handwriting recognition is not very high.
      So there is only the detour via GoodNotes :-(
      Or are there other possibilities?
      My needs would be the following: With the iPad mini I'm at press conferences, book launches, etc. and I want to take handwritten notes. They should (ideally) appear automatically as text in a freely definable cloud. Then, back in the office, I can access the text directly (from my Windows PC).
      Regards
      Seriously

  8. Hello Ernst,

    I'm sorry that I couldn't really help you. If handwritten notes work better for you with Goodnotes (it's explicitly made for that), then this is a good alternative for you. I have Goodnotes on my Macbook and iPad. The synchronization works wonderfully for me and is very practical for taking notes. However, I have not yet tested the synchronization between iPad (OS) and Windows PC.

    Best regards,
    Anastasia

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