Notion

A few months ago, a couple friends kept insisting I try Notion. It almost seemed like a coordinated effort. But they were persistent, telling me how they used it for everything from organizing work to taming their personal lives. Managing my life in an app, or at least just jotting down notes, is never something that appealed to me. I need to ascribe specific, narrow purposes to the tools I use. Otherwise, it's hard to understand when to reach for one. Tools that try to do too many things often fall short of doing anything particularly well too.

After using Notion, I'd still much rather keep taking physical notes, but it's undeniably an elegant product. It's very clean. You're welcomed by a simple homepage. They aren't begging you to sign up. They tell the story of Notion, and why you may be interested.

I started using the product as a personal CRM to keep track of relationships. In the past, I used Google Sheets, which is great for listing things out, but doesn't allow you to provide any depth. The cool part about Notion is that you can link records (in the spreadsheet setup) to pages, where you can add extra information that doesn't show up in the global CRM view. (I briefly tried Airtable and think they do this too.)

A few other nice touches are several helpful templates that get you started (including a personal CRM template), an offline mode that actually works, dark mode, and "/" commands that keep your hands on the keyboard. Plus, did I mention how clean the interface is? Notion is free to get started, and you only pay once you hit the free plan's cap of "blocks" or file storage. I'm not even close to the limit yet, but the pricing seems extremely fair. My two friends that use it, pay for it. They usually don't pay for stuff like Notion, using free alternatives instead.

My one gripe is that while keybindings exist, they aren't very intuitive: cmd + p for search?

Last time I was out in SF, I was fortunate to meet up with Ivan and the rest of the Notion team. We had lunch and talked about how they build products. Often you never get to see behind the curtain or meet the folks that make the tools you use. Meeting the team, I got a good sense that the product will always be clean and provide utility. They are all users of the product so I can see why my friends will continue to be too.