Notion’s Eleven: Note-Taking

Why should you take notes in Notion?

One of Notion’s strongest features is the ability to author notes quickly and easily. However, without effective structuring of these notes your workspace can very quickly become disorganized and inaccessible to your team.

In today’s article, we’re going to explore some of the best practices for authoring notes in Notion, and introduce you to our very own note-taking system, which leverages Notion’s database for advanced functionality and contextual access to these notes as needed.

Everything in Notion is essentially a note

One of the first concepts to understand is that every page created in Notion is essentially a note. By creating a new page anywhere inside the workspace you are essentially creating a digital piece of paper to author content in. That’s essentially a note. By understanding this concept, we can apply some general best practices when it comes to note-taking in Notion.

Don’t be afraid to take a lot of notes

There is no upper limit on the amount of notes that can be taken in Notion. The more you document and author content in your workspace, the stronger and more valuable your workspace becomes. If you haven’t already, consider using Notion to create notes for:

  • On the fly thoughts and ideas
  • Meeting agendas and notes
  • Write ups and proposals to share with clients
  • Strategic plans and business planning

The closer you get to depending on Notion as your single source of truth for all your startup’s notes, the more valuable the workspace becomes. By encouraging your team members to liberally create notes in your workspace, we maximize the chances of capturing institutional knowledge and sparking insights throughout the day-to-day work of doing business.

Once you’ve created a note, Notion offers a media-rich choice of formats to capture your ideas. You can style your notes by using:

Create notes in the correct place

While you should encourage your team to take as many notes as possible, it’s vital that you centralize these notes in one place. That doesn’t mean that all notes have to be displayed on the same page - but it does mean that they should all be added to a single, comprehensive database.

As Certified Notion Consultants, we have seen the benefits of this approach.

Introducing the Notebook database

At Optemization, we followed this line of thought, and so we create and store all of our notes inside our database called the Notebook. This is the one source of truth and one place where our team of 9 all create and author notes. Over time, this notebook fills up with entries and becomes more valuable to our organization as a result.

The Notebook database is the lifeblood of our organization. It’s where ideas are captured, processed and insights emerge. The more you add to the database, the more valuable it becomes.

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Contextually display relevant notes on appropriate pages

It’s essential that accessing the Notebook is a quick and easy process for team members. In order to do this, create linked databases on appropriate pages and filter to only show certain information.

In the example below, Daniel’s dashboard features a filtered window into the Notebook database by filtering to only show notes he created. In this way, he can easily add to the Notebook without having to see the thousands of notes in the database.

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One of the easiest and effective ways to display relevant notes: use the Sort By property.

A super easy and effective way to only show notes that are likely to be relevant is to use the Sort by property to show notes edited most recently or created most recently. To do this go ahead and do the following:

  • Click Sort By
  • Select Edited at to Descending
  • Select Created at to Descending

This will display the most recently edited and created notes at the top of the Notebook database and save you time searching for that most recently created Note you created.

Create an Individual Pin property and Workspace Pin property

Depending on the size of your startup, chances are you’re going to have several hundred notes fill up the Notebook in a relatively short period of time. In some cases, you will create a note which you’d like the team to have easy access to: and in such a case, it makes sense to use either an Individual Pin or Workspace Pin to really emphasize the importance of a note.

What’s the benefit of an individual pin?

An individual pin is simply a Person property which exists on the Notebook database. By tagging a person in this property it will both notify the user in their notifications panel, but also appear on any personal views of the Notebooks database.

If you’re the creator of a note and want to come back to it quickly and easily, you can also benefit from tagging yourself in the Individual Pin property.

What’s the benefit of a workspace pin?

A workspace pin is essential for bringing awareness to any important notes that you’d like the whole team to have access to. By selecting the Workspace Pin checkbox property, this note will appear in the Workspace Pinned view of the notebook.

Pro Tip: Create a linked view of the Notebook on your company homepage and set the filter to only show Workspace Pinned. This will put your important notes at the forefront of your team’s attention when they open up Notion and visit the homepage.

Store your Notebook database on the sidebar

At Optemization, we put such an importance on our Notebook database that we store the actual database as a page on our workspace sidebar. This means it’s always visible, all the time, to all of our team members.

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Once we click into the Notebook database, we have a variety of pre-set filters which all show the notes created by Me in different contexts. For example, we have created the following views:

  • My Recent Notes
  • All My Notes
  • My Pinned Notes
  • Workspace Pinned Notes
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A template you can rely on

We’ve gone ahead and replicated our very own Notebook database for you to use with your team in Notion. It comes with several features, including:

  • A master Notebook database with useful contextual filters applied to different views - An exact replica of our prized Notebook database. Simply drag and drop this on to your sidebar to get up and running quickly - or drag it into your workspace Backend and create contextual dashboards (or use our own) to display linked database views on the Notebook database.
  • Create a personal notes dashboard with a click of a button - you can either use this as a standalone dashboard or drag and drop the components onto your existing personal dashboard.
  • Create a team notes dashboard with a click of a button - The same style of dashboard except filtered to show notes created by your team via the Team select property. This allows Engineering, Product, Marketing or any department to create notes directly on the Notebook database and only see their relevant notes.
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Conclusion

By leveraging the Notebook database, we can quickly and easily create notes in Notion. As mentioned before, the more you depend upon the Notebook as the single source of truth for your company, the more valuable it becomes within your workspace. Remember: every single page inside Notion is effectively a note. It’s the starting point for building more sophisticated workflows and should not be under-estimated or under-utilized. It is the fundamental building blocks used before developing your workspace and workflows for your team.

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Hey I’m Daniel! I’m originally from Oxford UK. I joined the Optemization team in late 2021 after finding it on Twitter. For the past 8 months, I has worked as a Notion Consultant on 18 different projects. In particular, I enjoyed building workspaces for Loop and Discord.

Fun fact: When I’m is not building Notion workspaces, I enjoy riding my motorbike around the Cotswolds.

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