Notion, all-in-one workplace tool
Notion is a single space where you can think, write, and plan. Capture thoughts, manage projects, or even run an entire company — and do it exactly the way you want.
Have you ever been struggling to keep everything in line?
Like pursuing a project with an extended team, while keeping you fit with a certain amount of workouts per week, as keeping track of your paid bills or those business opportunities you’ve been watching on LinkedIn.
Life has become multifaceted as we gradually started living online inside a collective second world (not by chance, the time for “concretizing” it throughout the latest Metaverso project has come), while the reality asks us to stay connected with our needs and to manage the basic tasks of everyday life.
As the pandemic boosted the works online, the instruments for digital users have doubled in number. It has become easier to get lost in the abstract cloud of scheduling and still stay consistent.
Fundamentally, Notion is a tool to solve people’s problems
Ivan Zhao, Co-founder & CEO
Launched in 2016 for web browser and OS X, Notion was conceived from its birth (formally in 2013 with Notion Labs Inc, the startup based in San Francisco) with a winning criterion: the all-in-one-in tool.
I’m experiencing the effects of this powerful tool on my skin. After the news of the Japanese version release this October, I think it’s time to talk about one of the simplest and useful tools which it is at its peak, globally.
❓WHAT IS NOTION
Notion is a no-code productivity platform that aims at combining the needs of anyone who manages to stay organized. Initially conceived for professionals, students, creators, and project managers, the cloud-based software can literally be used by anyone due to two main factors: modularity and large customization.
“It works like a set of software Legos”, says the description. And it’s real. And it’s super fun.
“We think tools should mimic the way people’s brains work. And since everyone thinks and works differently, this means tools need to be very flexible.”
The concept, admittedly inspired by the pioneers’ generation that popped out in the 70s, wants to recreate a valuable connection with the productivity instrument par excellence, the computer, which turned out to be a space to discover when programming meant imagining the new, in those years.
Notion is based on the idea that each user should experience the freedom to customize the workspace as a photograph of their way of thinking.
Guess how? Putting in their hands the power of programming softwares, their own.
Not by chance, Notion is formally rooted in what coding should feel like.
“In college, I did freelance work for friends who wanted to build their own websites, and I saw a couple of things. It seemed wrong that only a few people with the ability to code could build websites and other software tools”, says Ivan Zhao during a mind-blowing interview, the Co-Founder and CEO of Notion, Ivan Zhao, held with Notionist, in 2019.
He focuses on the topic addressing the broader social theme of the way we imagine working, while unveiling the philosophy behind Notion: challenging the status quo.
By insinuating this extremely democratic thinking, he leads us to ask if we are really convinced that the way the current tools we use guarantee us the best yield, not just in terms of productivity but in clarity and efficiency.
We are bombarded by the use of different Apps, and which one of those does something different.
We are often busy bouncing between softwares that do not communicate very well with one other. We have tons of open tabs on the browsers and we share projects through even more various channels.
The bundled solution brings more clarity, productivity and consistency, to help going over the confusion and the wasting of time, which is often a source of stress.
Notion allows the integration with almost every service in use like Google Drive, Figma, Maps, Typeform, GitHub.
This makes notion a tool widely used by designers, developers also for the range of features with which this entire audience usually works.
✏️ THE EXTREME PERSONALIZATION
It takes a bit to learn but it is never counter-intuitive.
The App is user-experience centered and its complexity originates just from the long list of instruments that offers: the “modules”.
It breaks the traditional productivity software into blocks — text, lists, tasks, databases, images, etc. — so you can easily build and stack them however you want to solve your problems your own way (made easier with drag and drop, etc.)
Ivan Zhao, Notionist
To-do list, checkboxes, expandable lists, galleries, links, quotes, wiki pages, calendars, linked databases, task boards. Everything displays to support the creation of the workspace from scratch.
Moreover, by clicking “/“ it pops up a preview of all the options you can select to build your space, or even a personal website (as you can imagine, Notion website too).
Every element becomes a page, every box is clickable and can become a link to other pages.
The interface is clean and minimal, "more objective", to not generate distractions.
The hierarchy is up to you.
📈 THE SUCCESS
During the pandemic, Notion went viral on TikTok. It is not a surprise: from 2020’s lockdown, the social network is teeming with examples of “healthy routines” or "successful habits" based on waking up at 5:00, drinking iced coffee, and boosting productivity in the forced isolation.
Aided by the minimal graphics, light pastel colors, and the calmly set, Notion broke the web. And it is not just a saying. Notion crushed for hours due to the traffic of access multiple times, this year.
The digital creators took Notion so religiously that the software has now literally a spontaneous fanbase. Given the fact it is mainly an open-source free tool, Youtubers and creators started building pre-made environments to help people organize their lives and basically because of the fun of doing it (the so-called "Templates" the App already includes, which are way more schematic to give space to the personalization).
We wanted to create a space that was as distraction-free as humanly possible. All of Notion’s functionality fades as soon as you start typing leaving you with “a completely blank, fresh space designed to feel like a breath of fresh air and spacious opportunity to think deeply[…] We’ve heard from several people that Notion’s very minimalist, lightweight feel encourages people to write more — even if it’s just jotting down ideas.
Ivan Zhao, Notionist
Just to give an idea of the numbers behind this success, the most viewed Youtube video vlogging a study routine using Notion as an agenda, counts more than 1,300,000 visualization.
So why Notion?
This tool genuinely helped me and many other users to clarify their goals and to get the things done in a shorter period of time during a very challenging one, like the post-pandemic.
Despite the creators' community, the tool is trusted by huge companies such as Spotify, Nike, Pixar, or IBM, confirming its effectiveness.
Can we figure out Notion acquiring so much importance, enough to become the first concentrating platform of all the other circulating tools?