My Notion productivity system
Keeping track of tasks and projects
22 Feb 2023 · 6 minute read
I often find myself having to deal with multiple projects at a time. On a typical day, I work on at least a client project, at least a personal one, and take care of other tasks such as paying bills, filing taxes, reading tech articles, and responding to emails.
All of those tasks can seem daunting, especially if you don't have a centralized system for managing them. In the past, I used to keep my email as a to-do list, with each unread email representing a task to be completed. Unfortunately, email apps are not designed for professional planning, so I rarely achieved "inbox 0" with this method.
I also tried Todoist for a while, but it didn’t have the flexibility I needed to keep me engaged. Also, forget about hand written notes in 2023; the second I would leave for a coworking space, or travel to a different country they will forever live on my desk.
I needed a custom system, fitted to my needs. As an engineer, I’m naturally drawn to building a solution myself, exactly how I envision it. Even if I’m the only user.
I had used Notion in the past for note taking, so I thought I'd give it a try. I had made some simple TODO lists with Notion before, but they quickly became unmanageable.
I decided to build a dashboard to save time, prioritize tasks, and never miss a deadline.
The main task dashboard
I have a tag for each project I work on. For example, AMH is for any blog related tasks, such as writing posts like this one and making improvements to the admin dashboard.
Each client project has it’s own tag. It’s usually the tag I also use for the issue tracking system of that software project, on platforms like Jira or Linear. I also have tags for Thesis and Admin tasks, as well as Linkedin posts (LNK).
I usually collapse the view of a category, to reduce the noise. When I have a block of time scheduled for it, I open the board. The layout is pretty default, with a Not Started, In Progress and Done columns. To remove noise, I only see tasks that are due within a month, and the tasks I completed in the current day.
Each task has list of fields, such as due date, a flag for very important tasks and a lead. I’ll explain this in a bit, hang tight. On the main page of the task I add any relevant details, such as links, details, or draft content for linkedin posts. For tasks that take longer, I also have a list of actions, such as when emails were send or when certain actions were taken.
Let’s move on and expand on what the lead field on a task means.
The leads list
Managing your network is hard. Keeping in mind when and what you discussed with people can easily become a problem. Linked to my task list there’s a dashboard with all the people I have worked with. If you’re thinking that what you saw so far is similar to a relational database, you’d be very accurate.
Whenever I meet a new person, I write their details down in this dashboard, such as email, context, company and the type of contact (some are clients, some investors, etc).
On each contact, I keep track of every interaction with them. Whenever we have a meeting, I write a short summary here. There’s nothing more time consuming than not remembering small details from previous discussions, having to reiterate everything.
Looping back to tasks, each of them can have a lead. The reason is because sometimes I create tasks during meetings, and they are highly linked to that particular person. For example, I create a task for each follow-up I have to write. It’s very convenient to have the details of the task, together with the contact, and the meeting notes in one place.
Filtered views for specific contexts
When I work on a specific project, there’s no reason to be distracted by other projects I have on the main board. Using the same datasource, I have custom views for each project, where I only see filtered tickets for this purpose only. It’s about hitting that flow and staying in the focus zone as long as possible, without many distractions.
Quick links and daily TODOs
For each client project I have underway, I have quick links to the page with more details. I also keep a list of cool tools I find online, that can become useful at any point in time.
On the top of the page, I also keep a synced block for daily notes. Those can be simple tasks, or more complex thoughts. Everything that is not resolved by the end of the day and still relevant becomes a task.
As a freelance software engineer and founder, it's vital to keep my projects organized. This enables me to concentrate longer, be more productive, and deliver top-notch results on client projects and personal goals.
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