Notion Note Taking for books, meetings & journaling
There are ZILLIONS of free note-taking apps out there: Evernote, Google Keep, Obsidian, OneNote, etc. I won’t tell you which one to use, as I believe each person needs to find the best one according to their own needs.
But this is a Notion-focused website. And Notion is a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of purposes, including note-taking. Whether you are taking notes for books, meetings, or journaling, Notion provides a flexible and customizable platform that can meet all your needs.
Notion Note Taking Basics
At its origin, Notion is a free note taking app that allows you to take notes, to-do lists, and build databases. You can organize your notes into different pages and databases, and you can also customize the layout and formatting of your notes.
To get started with Notion, simply create a new page or database and start adding your notes. You can add text, images, and other media to your notes, and you can also create links between different notes. You can also find a bunch of free templates that can be duplicated to your workspace.
Quick Notes / Meeting Notes
Do you ever feel the need to capture an idea or thought before it disappears? I certainly do, and here's the system I created to handle that situation:
First, I created a Notion page in my personal Ultimate Freelancer Dashboard, since most of my notes relate to my freelance business. I named the page "⚡ Quick Notes". Inside this page is a gallery database where I store all my notes. Whenever I need to add a new note, I simply click the "New" button and a new page (database item) is created.
I added two properties to that database:
- Created Time → to sort my database by descending date
- Status → to better manage my personal notes ("In Process" & "Done")
Pro tip: You can filter your database on Status = In Process so that you don't directly see the Done notes. Think of "Done" as a way of archiving your notes.
That's it - I try to keep things as simple as possible so I'm not bogged down with filling out numerous properties when I need to act quickly.
Also, bookmark that Notion page to your web browser so it's easily accessible & make it easy to find in your workspace. With my personal setup, it only takes two clicks to create a new note (click 1 = bookmark, click 2 = new note). Of course, take some time each day/week/month to go through all your notes and update the status or merge them into your project management system.
Notion can also become your go-to for meeting notes. You can use the same setup and add more properties such as a relation to your client/team CRM. You can also add a self-referential filtered database of your actions.What’s great about it is that it’s super easy to share your meeting notes with other team members, which can help keep everyone on the same page and ensure that action items are completed.
Taking Notes for Books
Notion is also an awesome app for taking notes on books. You can add dedicated pages for each book that you read, and you can attach notes, quotes, and summaries to each page.
Notion also allows you to create tags and categories for your notes, which can help you organize your notes by topic or theme. You can also use the search function to quickly find notes on a specific topic or keyword.
So if you’re a big non-fiction books nerd like me, you may wanna create a books database in your Notion workspace.
Here’s what you can do.
Build Your Books (or Content) Database
Create a new table in your database. Then add the following properties:
Book Name [Title]
Author [Text] (optional)
- You can add the author's name to the "Book Name" property to save space.
Date [Date] (optional)
- The date can be useful if you want to remember when you read the book. It can be the day you purchased the book, the day you finished it, or the time between which you started and finished it (in that case, be sure to activate the "end date" button).
Rating [Select] (optional)
- For ratings, I created five select items: ⭐, ⭐⭐, ⭐⭐⭐, ⭐⭐⭐⭐ and ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐, but you can also use other emojis or text.
Description [Text] (optional)
- Here, you may want to write a description of the book or give your after-read opinion.
Category [Multi-Select] (optional)
- Business, Self-Help, Gardening, Arts & Crafts, Health, Mental Health, etc.
- Check the box once you finish reading the book. Unchecked boxes will become your wishlist or read later books.
Now that your properties are set up, duplicate your view so that you can create one "Read" view and one "Wishlist" view. Rename these views as "Read" and "Wishlist" and filter the "Read" view on Read [checkbox] = Checked and the "Wishlist" view on Read [checkbox] = Unchecked.
This database can also be used for any type of content: simply add a select property that tags if the content is a book, a video, an article, etc. There are also a TON of awesome templates for content management.
Store your book notes
After finishing (or not) a book, you can import all your notes into the corresponding database item. To do so, click "Open" to the right of the book name and store your book notes in the blank page.
For better navigation, you can add a table of contents at the beginning of your page (shortcut = /toc). As you store your notes, add chapter names as headings so that they'll appear in the table of contents.
If you use a Kindle or any other electronic reading device that has a highlight feature, there are ways to automate the transfer of book highlights to Notion using Notion's API or automation tools like Make or Zapier.
Pro tip: You can also use Notion AI to summarize a book for you. Just press the space bar to summon AI.
Taking Notes for Journaling
Notion is a great tool for daily logs. You can create a dedicated page for each day, adding notes, tags, and descriptions. Building a predefined template can help you save time and ensure you don't forget anything.
Journaling is another way of taking notes, where you write daily or weekly notes about how you feel, perceive the world, and your own sense of being. Although I'm a big proponent of journaling in a physical notebook, Notion offers a good alternative for those who prefer digital tools.
Let's see how we can leverage Notion to create a simple yet powerful journaling hub.
First, define what you're interested in tracking:
- daily pictures
- writing about your day
Pro tip: Use the "Daily Picture" property as your item's cover in your gallery view. Go to your database settings, select Layout, then Card Preview and choose "Daily Picture."
Add properties for all of these categories, except the "writing about your day", you'll write that inside the page.
If you have recurring themes that you want to write about, you can add a template to structure your thoughts. Follow these steps:
- Click the down arrow next to the "New" blue button, and then click "New Template".
- Create your structure.
- Set the template as default.
Here's an example:
This journaling section was inspired by Marie Poulin's video Design Notion as your daily journal. I highly recommend that you check it out, as it provides a more complete version of what I talked about.
Remember, complex systems can be discouraging. Focus on what's essential, and you'll find yourself returning to it more frequently.
Notion is an incredibly versatile and free app for note taking. It offers a wide range of features that can be used to suit various purposes. Whether you are taking notes for a book, a meeting, or a journaling, Notion has got you covered. Not only can you capture all of the important details in one place, but you can also customize your note taking experience to suit your personal preferences. For instance, you can use color coding to differentiate between different types of notes, or you can add images and links to enhance your notes. Additionally, Notion allows you to collaborate with others on your notes, making it an ideal choice for team projects or group brainstorming sessions. With so many possibilities, Notion is truly a must-have tool for anyone who wants to take their note taking game to the next level.
Start now & create your Notion account 🙃