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I had an epiphany this week.
I will share it with you, just in case it may help you.
I don’t want to seem so metaphysical, and I will call it an inflection point in my life. I can see this week can be decisive for an extended period in my life since now.
Last week I wrote an article about Roam Research, a note-taking software that is mostly everywhere.
I’m feeling uncomfortable for a long time with my productivity system and the software I’m using to set my goals and (try) achieve them.
Right now, I have a combination of all this software:
As a quick reminder of easy things I don’t want to forget.
I have to say this software is impressive because of its simplicity and because it has a feature I love.
Whenever you create a reminder, the software starts alerting you until you mark it as done (or you throw away your iWatch, iPhone, iPad, or computer… I won’t say Mac, although that’s what it is…).
This alarm repeats during the interval you previously set up.
As an Apple geek, I finally ended up with this software.
For more than 25 years, I’ve tried all kinds of task management software.
During the last years, I worked with Todoist, Things, and 2Do.
I have to say I felt very comfortable with 2Do.
I love when the software is enough opened to configure it to my processes, instead of more static software to which you have to adapt your methods.
2Do has a fantastic database model, which allows you to organize it in many different ways.
I really did enjoy 2Do, and it worked for me even for several years.
I ended up with Omnifocus because I started watching videos and reading lots of articles (even books) about this “classic” solution.
As you may know, this is something but an “opened system”, but there was something that always made me felt uncomfortable with 2Do: its graphical user interface.
I love working on applications with beautiful user interfaces.
Maybe it sounds stupid, but when I dedicate so much time, continually working, using an application, I need to have a graphical user interface clean, beautiful, practical, cozy… Something I look at and immediately say:
“Wow, I want to work on that environment”
That’s why I confess I’m an “Apple believer”, even though I’m kidnapped in its hardware environment. Stockholm syndrome is something you don’t believe until you start living on it.
I say all this because 2Do graphical user interface is something like “back to the future”, an environment in which I never felt comfortable, but that I bet on it because of its functionalities (sometimes you have to sacrifice design and cozy sensations due to pragmatic principles).
And I’m just talking about his desktop app because if you try its mobile one, the experience is even worse from my point of view.
Omnifocus is not as opened as 2Do, but it’s another level.
It’s a very serious software: significant, reliable, and a classic in its area, with lots of years, users, and documentation all over the place.
I got engaged with amazing guys who have created very interesting flows.
I have to admit its graphical user interface perfectly suited me, no matter if I used it on my iPad, iPhone, iWatch, or Mac.
In fact, it has been my most essential productivity software for the last years.
I work with Gmail both in my personal life and my business life.
I’ve always loved Google, even though its designs always put functionality before design. I have to admit they’ve improved a little bit talking about that feature.
Anyway, I need to combine several Gmail accounts into a unique Calendar, to see everything together and in a more “beautiful” graphical user interface.
I bet on Fantastical.
I don’t only use Fantastical for my events, but also to implement a time blocking management system as a task manager.
I do believe a lot in this methodology because when you think about task management, you don’t really have to manage your task.
You need to manage your time and how long you’re going or can dedicate to those tasks.
That’s why time blocking methodology entirely suits me, and I highly recommend it to anyone who should manage hundreds of tasks, as it’s my case.
As a paperless guy for more than a decade, I love this app for quick entry.
It’s great because as soon as you opened it, a blank screen appears, and you can directly write on it your idea, your inspiration, something you cannot forget…
For me, it’s like a giant bucket that can eat anything you throw in it.
Later on, I process it and create the items I need in the system they should be. By the way, its iWatch app allows me to dictate things on the go.
One of my loved ones.
This software changed my life.
It allowed me to become paperless, something I will always be grateful for.
Being paperless is one of the most productive features I’ve ever experienced. It gives me security, peace of mind, time-saving, organization, clearness…
I could be all day long listing beautiful words about the paperless movement, which I’m a blind believer.
A classic for journaling.
Excellent graphical user interface and amazing features. Period.
Congratulations to these guys because they nailed it!
Like DayOne, I end up to the same conclusion. These guys are fantastic.
They got something I do always think is impressive, a perfect combination and balance between a beautiful application, talking about its graphical user interface, and how you work inside the app.
Everything’s easy, intuitive, full of common sense.
As an engineer in computer science, I perfectly know how hard it is to get to this point. So that, feel proud of your product, guys!
There are projects or moments in which a Kanban board is a must in my life.
I like to see things from a graphical perspective (I love mind mapping apps like MindNode), and Trello gives me that. The opportunity of perfectly seeing a status series.
I don’t need it in all my projects, but that becomes a must in some.
And, more or less, this is the digital ecosystem I create to manage my life, both personally and professionally. It sounds a little bit complicated, but it’s something I’ve been living for a long period of my life, and it works.
But, as I said at the beginning of the article, I’ve been feeling uncomfortable for the last years, mainly because, as my data volume increases, this system is not so operative.
I need a system in which:
- I can connect my high-level goals to my daily tasks, being able to have a bird’s view of all my system, but also a “microscopic” detail of each task. Being able to know that what you are doing every day is driving you towards your big goals in life is a great sensation. Don’t you think so?
- I can capture and organize all the knowledge I’m exposed to. I read tons of books, tons of articles, I listen to podcasts, I have interesting conversations with people, I watch YouTube videos, I have quick thoughts, I have deep thoughts, I see movies… All kinds of data, at any time, and anywhere.
- I can recall all the knowledge I’ve captured and organized, to use it daily, to base my actions into that knowledge.
I know I am asking for a lot, but that’s what life is all about: asking for a lot and see what you get.
Going back to the beginning of this article, when I investigated last week about Roam Research, another name started appearing very frequently: Notion.
I heard about Notion a long time ago, 3 or 4 years ago. At that moment, I fitted that app into the note-taking area, and, as I was completely satisfied using Evernote, I ignored it until this week.
I found two people that I can classify as Notion’s gurus: Marie Poulin and August Bradley.
Both of them have created remarkable developments in Notion.
I visited Marie Poulin’s site and saw she based her system on PARA methodology. I will write an article about this PARA methodology, a system created by the productivity guru Tiago Forte, a guy I admire and follow, because I think it’s a fascinating topic.
Marie has a paid course to implement the PARA method into Notion. It seems incredible, but…
… when I visited August’s YouTube channel and watched his first video, I was shocked!
I always say we have to pay for good content so that content generators can live (survive in many cases) and improve their content.
In fact, I spend a lot of money on courses, newsletters, and paid content throughout the whole year.
But, at this initial point, deciding between a paid course ($600) and that shocked August’s free video, I bet on the latter (I’m so sorry, Marie, because your content and work are amazing!).
I started watching August’s Notion video series on Tuesday, and, last night, on Thursday, I finished all of them.
I’m talking about 38 videos of between 15′-30’ duration each. I won’t tell you what I slept this week… But this guy’s fantastic!
I got engaged as a Netflix series. I was just being unable to stop watching one video after another.
Soon August will launch a course based on this video series, and I, honestly, don’t know what this man’s going to show in it. I wrote him an e-mail, but he still hasn’t replied to it.
In these videos, this genius has given me the solution to my 3 previous points. Awesome!
Now I know what Notion is all about, much far away from just being a note-taking player in the topic. This goes much further!
Notion has made it possible to create your own systems without a piece of code.
It reminds me (be careful, it’s just a simple comparison) of the 80s and 90s when I was using Dbase software to create mini ERPs.
Notion is base in 2 “stupid” words:
- Page: a place to show information.
- Block: each part of a page.
As simple as that.
The point is, a block can be anything: from a simple text box with a letter on it to a huge relational database.
I was stunned about this, dear friends. It’s been a discovery to me, and I don’t know how the hell I ignored this company before. Things that happen in life…
Now, following August’s wise advice, that is based on an unbelievable (and very solid for me) methodology called PPV (Pillars, Pipelines & Vaults), which I’ll write an article on that whenever I get more used to it, I can move all my systems to Notion, centralizing all my knowledge, and being able to manage all my life just with one system.
Scary moment: giving my life to just one software?
I gave my life to the great players (Amazon, Google, and Apple), but… Notion?
I respect and admire Notion project, but it’s a company founded in 2016. Anyway, last April 1st, it raised $50 million from Index Ventures and others investors. The last raise of $10M valued them at $800 million.
Life is risky many times.
As an entrepreneur since 2002, I learned life isn’t always black or white. It’s full of little tiny thin grey lines, and sometimes you have to trust them. There’s no other way to move forward.
I think Notion is a fantastic platform that allows users to create their software without coding, using lots of templates, and having the possibility of not adapting your process to what a fixed software tells you.
After having tested so many systems, I do believe this is my way, and I’m going for it.
If Notion disappears, I hope to be able to export my databases to a CSV file and import them to any other system I may find.