Introduction

notion

Notion is an online all in one note taking app.

My experience with Notion

I've heard Notion a lot when it was new and trending few years ago. I gave it a try especially for researching and drafting my blog posts. However, at this time, there was monthly limitations. I therefore dropped it. I also begin using Bear as my primary note taking tool when I switched to Mac.

Nevertheless, when it’s free version became more accessible, I started using it mostly because I could use Notion from different devices. I used it a lot for writing draft emails but sometimes for documenting pieces of work.

Inspiration from Show your work

Right now, I’m reading books on writing and creativity with Show Your Work by Austin Kleon toppling my list. I learnt about him through the productivity expert Ali Abdaal.

Austin main argument is that you should keep a daily work journal - with all the bits and pieces of your design or artwork process - to later share on the Internet. This is also the work you can come back later and share with colleagues.

For me, one of the biggest advantages of keeping such a journal is you have plenty of resources whenever you want to present something.

Limitations of Notion

My overall experience has been:

  • it's primary a paying tool and the free version is limited
  • as I use it sparingly, I have no need to pay for the complete version
  • slow to use especially when Internet connection is unstable
  • the UI becomes boring with repeatable use
  • the overall UX can be improved especially with the use of tabs
  • missing a built-in autocorrect feature (you can get it via Grammarly)

Aside from that, Notion is a fantastic tool, which is used by thousands of creative people around the world and I couldn’t recommend it more. If tomorrow, I have the means of paying for it, I will certainly be doing it.

Alternative with Obsidian

Obsidian

During my technical breaks, I usually surf the Net in quest of ways to improve my productivity, particularly my ability to organise information. I see a direct correlation of structuring information and problem solving.

This is how I discovered Obsidian. The initial reviews seemed interesting. When I started using it though, it didn’t make much sense and wasn’t much different from my day to day editor Typora. However, when I tried customising it with community plugins, the experience was far better. In fact, I made it my default tool. The fact that it was local was also a plus. Obsidian was faster than Notion's desktop version. But you also have an online version.

However, the reason I stopped using it was because I struggled to quickly find specific information. The links were powerful and highly innovative but didn’t bring any plus for me. Moreover, with the markdown first approach, adding and copying images was not as natural as using Word for example. This is something even Notion struggles because if you want to copy the image, you can’t do it directly. You need to either copy the link or open it and from there, copy the image.

Overall though, Obsidian is an excellent knowledge base of plain text Markdown files.

Use of Notion Enhancer

Searching online for improvements following a Kaizen philosphy, which is to try improve a little every now and then, I stumble upon Notion Enhancer. Looking at the feature set and images, I am sold. I immediately try to install it.

I initially only want to change Notion default fonts. When you use it everyday, it becomes boring to write and edit text.

Installation

Looking at the Github page, I think it's easier to follow a YouTube tutorial. In this video, the presenter installs Enhancer through NPM. This is an older version. I do the same, yet it does not work. In fact, Notion desktop tool stops displaying content.

Glancing back at the official page, I saw a notice that I ignored earlier on. I trusted the Youtube tutorial more than the official document. It clearly said to download the executable rather than installing via Node. I therefore chose this way and it worked.

Huge productivity boost

Honorable Mention

Zettr

Nowadays, I'm using Zettr Markdown Editor as a ideas generating or copy pasting tool, replacing Typora.