My organisation system has been what can only be described as all over the place. Different systems would take on different roles with little to no interaction between them. This post explains my efforts to move over to a system that attempts to unify all of them under one roof.

Organised Chaos

My previous system is best described as organised chaos. Different techniques bounced off of but never truly interlinked and fed back on each other. Tasks were stored using Todoist, using the Getting Things Done methodology. Notes were stored all over the place, with some notes written down in different books and some in different online services. There were a few weeks where I used a bullet journal to store notes and tasks together. The move over to the bullet journal failed as, in my eyes, the amount of effort required for the upkeep of the system versus what the system gave back to me in terms of productivity was not worth the hassle. As a result, any new system needed to be worthwhile to me in the long run without requiring heaps of management.

Notion

Around January 2020, I stumbled across a video by Ali Abdaal, a YouTuber who works as a doctor. In his video, he talks about Notion and its relevance to students.

Notion is a workspace application that, in comparison to note-taking applications such as Evernote which have a rigid structure, uses pre-defined modules. What I mean by this is that Notion provides the building blocks, such as pages, databases, and webpage elements, and then lets you combine these how you see fit.

Without trying to sound too corny, I was intrigued. Okay, that does sound pretty corny, but you get the idea. After all, I was stumbling around with a shocking excuse for a personal organisation system and needed something to replace it. This seemed to be the silver bullet that would solve the problem.

Personal Setup

After a prolonged period of tinkering with my setup, I have settled on an adaptation of the Getting Things Done methodology with Notion.

Anything that needs to be noted down is first placed into an inbox. Whether that is a task that needs doing, a project that needs starting, or an article that has piqued my interest, it will all go into the inbox. At the end of the day, I will review the contents of the inbox and sort them into the databases that I have; the calendar, to-dos, projects, relationships, and ‘second brain’. ‘Relationships’ acts as a personal CRM system and ‘second brain’ is where articles, references, videos, podcasts, personal wikis, and other content gets filed.

I have added some other miscellaneous items, such as a subscription manager to keep track of recurring payments and a constrained bullet journal that focuses only on the overarching tasks for a day. With a wide range of templates available for Notion, I can add new pages as I need them.

The personal organisation system that I devised has been much better than the previous one; all the information that I need for organisational purposes has been under one roof. I don't see myself radically altering the system that I currently use for quite a long time, which is a much-needed improvement on my previous habits!