tips on setting up Notion header

Tips On Setting Up Notion If It Intimidates You

Notion is a free online organizational tool which allows a ton of flexibility and customization.

It has also taken over the online book community recently. A few people popped up with their Notion setups and suddenly, EVERYONE was talking about it. People either jumped on it immediately or completely steered clear of it.

The definition of Notion (according to Wikipedia) is:

Notion is an application that provides components such as databases, kanban boards, wikis, calendars and reminders. Users can connect these components to create their own systems for knowledge management, note taking, data management, project management, among others.

From other people, all I heard about Notion was that it is highly customizable and takes hours to set up.

After sitting on it for weeks, I finally set it up and was as efficient as I could be. And I totally mean to brag when I say this: my method was quite effective. The time I spent on my setup was way lesser than some of the people who’s updates I saw.

If you’re reading this post, it’s probably because you want to jump on the Notion train as well but you’re either confused by it, intimidated by it, or don’t have enough time to spend on it.

Today, I’m going to tell you how to smoothly set up your Notion and spend less time on it.

person using laptop

First, make an account and play around a bit.

Notion has a lot to offer, especially with it’s ready-made blocks and database views. It also provides a pretty good guide when you first set up with instructions and demos.

Without worrying about actually setting up your Notion space, play around with few of the features. Just 15-20 minutes should be enough.

How this will help:

  1. You will understand the basics of the application, like how to use it and how it looks.
  2. Through the guide, you can try out the most commonly used features of the application. For example, note-taking, making pages, and using blocks.
  3. This will give you an idea of what you can use. You can’t decide that tables will be useful for you without even testing it. Hence, playing around with the app will introduce you to Notion’s features and show how you can use them.

Also, this will help you understand whether Notion will actually be useful for you. If digital organizational systems won’t work for you, you’ll realize it early on without wasting more time. If you don’t track many things, Evernote or another simpler app would be better for you. Notion would just be overkill.

open laptop showing Pinterest images

Look at a few Notion setups online.

This is completely optional. If you’re here specifically after searching “how to setup Notion”, chances are the you’ve already seen setups online. If so, completely skip this point.

The reasoning for why I suggest this (with caution! as I mention below) is quite evident.

You can see how much Notion has to offer and will also get some ideas for your own setup.

Try to look for Notion setups similar to your purpose. If you’re going to use Notion only for your studies, look for student Notion setup tours. If you’re a content creator, look for setups focused on that.

Many people have shared how they use the app online so it should be quite easy to find at least a couple inspirations.

Places to find inspiration for Notion:

  1. YouTube videos – just search for Notion setup tours.
  2. Blogs – again, searching will bring up many.
  3. Reddit – there’s a dedicated Notion community.
  4. Twitter – #notiontwt is quite popular.

Related: Check out my Notion workspace!

Make sure not to get lost in finding inspiration. You can start with one video and spiral into the depths of YouTube or keep scrolling on Twitter. That would simply hold you back from making your own workspace.

Don’t spend more than 15 minutes on it, and bookmark what you liked best. And move on! It is so easy to get trapped in looking at everything in order to make yours perfect, and that WILL NOT HELP!

person writing in a notebook with things around them

Decide what you want from Notion.

This is THE thing that will make your entire set up process easier. Doing this saved me a ton of time as well.

What do you want to use Notion for?

Is it for school? For life? For your job? Everything? Decide on what you really need Notion for. Don’t include what you want to use it for simply because it’ll be aesthetic and cute. Don’t track unnecessary things and make it harder for yourself.

It’s easy to get caught up in Notion’s features. Focus on what you NEED, not what Notion CAN do. It may have a lot of fancy things, but do you NEED them?

Note down these things somewhere so that you can refer to them when you’re actually setting up your Notion workspace.

Going into the setup with these points decided will take away the infinite possibilities and make it easier for you to concentrate on actually setting up a functional system. This is especially helpful if you’re a perfectionist.

For example, before starting my set up I decided that I want to focus on my blog organization the most and what all it would need to track.

person holding a mug that says "like a boss"

Set up the functionality first.

If you’ve seen all the Notion setups online, you would have noticed all the aesthetics and would probably want a pleasing look too. But that’s not the main point of Notion.

Put function over form.

Before looking at aesthetics, images and icons, get your layout set. That is what will actually help you as you use Notion everyday. This is the most crucial aspect, so don’t! skimp! on this!

How to fast-track setting up your Notion layout:

  1. Use templates. There are templates available on the application itself for all the major uses. People also share templates online so if you like someone’s set up, check if they shared a template for it. This will help because you won’t be starting from scratch. You can either use the templates as they are, or tweak them to your requirements.
  2. Make different sections for different areas of your life. Don’t cram everything into one. Not only will that be messy, it’ll be long and harder to navigate. Separate your personal items from professional items. It’ll be easier to set up and easier to navigate/access.
  3. Make only valuable pages. Don’t have unnecessary pages which you’ve seen online or think would be nice to have but won’t actually use. You’d just be wasting time setting up things you don’t need. Make sure every page you have is valuable.
  4. Use placeholders for things to set up later. For example, I added blocks in places saying “add quote here” and “tasks here.” This will help setup the overall layout easily without actually putting everything in, and you can quickly get a feel of how it will look.

Once you’ve got your functionality down, or at least mostly down, then you can look at aesthetics. This ensures that even if you don’t have enough time to do everything at once, at least you can start using your workspace.

Related: Fadwa shared a walk-through of their Notion setup process with tips & templates.

foliage divider

To recap:

  1. Make an account and play around.
  2. Look at a few Notion setups online for inspiration.
  3. Decide what you want from Notion.
  4. Set up the functionality first.
foliage divider

Some extra tips:

  • Don’t introduce a ton of navigation. Having pages inside pages inside pages may seem orderly and neat but navigation will be frustrating, especially when you want to access a child page often. Keep whatever you will access often on the main pages.
  • Use the “favourite” feature. If you’re going to access a page (that is not a “main” page) often, favourite it so that it’s easier to find. For example, I have my blog calendar favourited for easy access.
  • Keep your most-used device in mind as you set up. Having many tables may seem like a good idea when you’re on the laptop, but it can look quite different on your phone. Set up according to the device you use the most.
  • Don’t strive for perfection. You may tweak things as you setup, and you may want to tweak things later too. Don’t worry about getting it right on the first try. Your requirements may change as days go by, or you might understand better about what works best as you use Notion. That’s normal.

I hope this post is helpful as you set up your Notion workspace!

If you’re curious, check out my Notion setup here!

Note: This blog will no longer be updated. Please follow my new blog for more guides and helpful content!

What system do you use to keep yourself organized? Have you tried Notion yet? What are your thoughts on this app?

32 thoughts on “Tips On Setting Up Notion If It Intimidates You”

  1. Iโ€™m not really too good with tech stuff, and I had not heard of this before reading this post, but I gotta admit you have me intrigued. Might check this out, great and above all very informative post! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m still unsure whether to use Notion or not. I already use Evernote, Trello and paper planners, so I really don’t know, but I’m keeping your post in my bookmarks for later since I might just change my mind! Lovely post, very detailed ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d say play around with it for a bit to try! What attracted me to Notion was that it has Kanban boards like Trello and also has other building blocks, allowing everything to be stored in one place. I was using Evernote, Trello and a bullet journal as well. Having everything in one place like Notion allows saves me time and effort!

      I’m glad you liked my post ๐Ÿ˜Š


  3. As you probably know as well, I’ve been using Notion for my blog, freelance writing, and university as well! I transferred most of my notes that are scattered all over onto Notion. I saw screenshots that you posted on Twitter and I love your Notion pages. I haven’t had the time to beautify mine, and just as you have suggested above, I focused on function over form.

    Oh, and I love writing on Notion! It’s minimalist, and once it’s on fullscreen, there almost nothing on my screen distract me.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Notion! Have a great week ahead, Sumedha! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do know that and it’s great that you focused on function over form! I simply couldn’t hold myself back from making it aesthetic haha.

      That’s true! It’s interface for writing is really nice.

      Thanks for reading & commenting ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. notion seems so popular all of a sudden and i see so many VERY CUTE notion pages but i feel like i’m too lazy and will probably set one up to never look at it again lmao ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I must live under a rock because I’ve never come across Notion! I use Trello for work and sometimes for home but I love your point about “Focus on what you NEED, not what Notion CAN do. It may have a lot of fancy things, but do you NEED them?” that’s so true of all apps!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Um queen coming through with the Notion tips!! I’ve been slowly setting up mine and figuring out what works and what doesn’t, not quite there yet but almost. I also definitely think that taking your helps but also getting inspiration from others is what helps me come up with my own ideas. So excited to see what your setup looks like <3<3

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I JUST heard about this today while blog hopping. Literally like 10 minutes ago lol. Where the heck have I been that I had no idea what this was? I’ll need to play with it and see if it works for me because I really need to get my blogging/reading/bookstagram life organized! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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