⚠️ Update: Notion just released subitems! You can activate them by going to your database settings & clicking “Sub-items”. The system presented below is still relevant if you need to know to easily see the hierarchy between tasks, projects & subtasks.
Notion Subtasks & Subitems
When working on complex projects, some tasks often require subtasks. And some of these subtasks sometimes need (sub)subtasks. And occasionally, these (sub)subtasks also require (sub)²subtasks.
To be honest, I never thought such a level of detail was needed until I worked with a client, a hardware equipment manufacturer, who asked me if it was possible to create such a system in Notion. But Notion does not have a built-in subtasks system, so I needed to find a workaround. My client's goal was to know, for each sub(sub)(sub)task, to which project it belonged.
The main Notion features that allow the creation of a subtask-type system are Relations & Rollups. However, you only have access to one level of rollups (i.e. you cannot create a rollup of a rollup).
So the second Notion feature I used to build this system was self-referential filtering. This feature is one of the most powerful Notion currently has. It enables you to automatically filter a linked database within a database template by that very same template. If you're unfamiliar with this feature, I recommend reading my Notion Linked Databases post.
By combining these two features, I was able to create what my client wanted: a 3-levels subtasks system.
- Relations & Rollups: each level is linked to it’s previous and next level. Rollups are used to aggregate the data.
- Self-referential filters: when you open any item, you’ll have access to a linked database, giving you access to all the information your need to know about the item’s parent tasks and project.
You’ll see that for each subtask level, we are able to retrieve the corresponding project! Mission accomplished 🎉
PS: if you're looking for a simpler task management system, check my other blog post on the subject.
Notion Subtasks Template
Implement this system in your Notion workspace by downloading the free template from my website.
Download the free template here
A note on databases in the template
All the databases are displayed as simple tables so that you can understand how the system is structured. If you use the template, feel free to modify the views according to what works best for you.
Open each item to see the linked databases by clicking the "Open" button next to each item's title.
Start now & create your Notion account 🙃