My GTD Workflow in Notion

productivity

When I first started using Notion, I was overwhelmed by the sandbox aspect, I created pages and databases for anything that popped into my head, before I knew it I couldn't keep up with the data monster I created. This changed thanks to the GTD method.

Introduction

I discovered the Notion YouTube channel, and watch a few videos from guru's such as https://twitter.com/mariepoulin and https://twitter.com/kirisima/ and was amazed by what they had achieved inside notion. I started copying their workflows, observing how they managed daily and weekly tasks, and my notion blew up, I again started creating more databases then I could handle and was quickly overwhelmed with my own workspace.

So I decided to take a big step back, I started reading about the P.A.R.A method which is based on the https://gettingthingsdone.com/ method by https://twitter.com/gtdguy. I decided to buy the book "Getting Things Done", by David Allen which explains a very in depth method for organising information in your life. I started cleaning up my notion, deleting pages and databases that were not relevant to me at that time. I removed information that I was tracking only for the sake of information, I stopped being an information hamster.

With my fresh setup I started to implement David Allen's theories into notion. If you don't know the theory behind the "Gtd method", you can read all about it here: https://gettingthingsdone.com/. I'll quickly guide you through my most important notion pages, assuming you know how gtd works.

Inbox

inbox

This is the entry point of the whole workflow, thoughts of any kind end up here. This is also the place where I bring over inbox items from other note keeping apps, my phone and even paper.

Web Clipper

webclipper in firefox

The web clipper extension (available for Firefox or Google Chrome) is a must have tool to quickly add web pages to your notion workflow, ideally you send those straight to your inbox for later processing.

Next Actions

next actions

The next actions database is the one I'll be looking at most of the time. I populate this database during a weekly or monthly review, and check it at least once a day.

next actions context

My next actions are tagged with an appropriate context, so I know when I can work on those items, a context isn't only a physical location but can be a person or an activity, I use this field to create views of my database that include certain contexts that I can then sort by time or energy.

next actions energy

An important part of my workflow is tagging all next actions with the required energy, ranging from one to three, and the time required to complete an item.

By having to think about how long an item will take to complete, and how much energy will be required, I force myself to make sure this next action item is something that can be physically done, as stated in the gtd manifesto:

"the next action is the most immediate physical, visible activity that would be required to move the situation toward closure".

If I can't make out how long an item will take it means I haven't refined it enough and I sent it back to my Inbox for further processing.

next actions filter

Notion's true power lies in the database views, filters and sorting so I use those to create views I can use for quick reference

The #energy view, for example returns all next actions, ordered by amount of energy and time required to complete them. On a lazy sunday afternoon I can quickly open that view and see if I can achieve some quick wins.

The due view returns all items that have a due date, I might filter this out even more in the future, so that it only returns due items for the coming weeks. I could then use this view in a weekly overview to quickly glance at my actions that are due in that week.

Projects

projects

A project is the next building block of the gtd system, if a task consists of more then one action to complete, it's a project. In my notion view for projects I make sure that I can quickly see the associated next actions to that project, if it's important, urgent and currently active. During my weekly review this table get's a thorough examination to see if all projects have next actions, and are still aligned with my goals for this period of time.

Some projects will have a goal associated with them, goal tracking in notion won't be the subject of this blog post but I find it's helpful to see which goal I try to reach by doing a project, why do a project when it doesn't bring you closer to your goals, right?

Weekly Review

The weekly review is probably the most important time of the week for your workflow, it's the weekly health check, the weekly meeting with yourself, and with notion. Some people prefer to have a review multiple times a week but it all depends how much information is flowing into your system.

I take time off on a fixed moment each week to do my weekly review, for me saturday morning works best, it's a time that I can block in my agenda almost every time, and it feels good to have completed my weekly review by the time other people are waking up.

weekly review

For me, the most important step of the review is to clear my head and update my inbox, next actions and projects. For that reason, in my dedicated weekly review page in notion, I have shortcuts to my inbox, next actions and someday/maybe tables to quickly drag to and from these lists, this way I can decide to elevate an inbox item to a next action, defer it for later use or delete it right there.

weekly review checklist

Your weekly checklist is personal and completely up to you. I started out from the example provided by David Allen, https://gettingthingsdone.com/2018/08/episode-43-the-power-of-the-gtd-weekly-review/ and adapted it to my needs, part of my weekly review is also to review my review. If it feels like something is missing from my checklist I'll add it, or when an action feels unnecessary I'll remove it.

By the time you read this, chances are my workflow has been updated a few times, keeping your information workflow up to date is as important as the information you're storing.

My Templates

Due to a few people requesting a template of the methods described in this blog post, I created a shared template that has my latest version of the Next Actions and Projects. Feel free to use this template to your own liking!

https://www.notion.so/notflip/Shared-GTD-Workflow-6868a8bc384948458fe58dc5b81f0a61