Notion offers a single space where you can think, write, and plan. It is an excellent app for organizing your personal life, managing business projects or even running your company.
The magic of Notion lies in its versatility. Whatever organizational system you need for your day-to-day tasks, you will likely be able to create it in Notion.
Unsurprisingly, Notion’s flexibility has led to its rise as the project management app of choice for a growing number of businesses.
But is Notion actually good for project management?
Of course, you could use Todoist, Asana, or zillions of other apps for that purpose as well. However, the problem with these apps is that they hardly allow for any customization.
In my work as a Notion consultant, I am again and again asked to build a personalized project management system in Notion.
For every company, there are features and functionalities that need to be customized. Still, what I realized is, that the core of almost all project management systems stays the same and consists of 3 different databases that are connected with simple relations.
- Task List Database
- Project List Database
- Resource Database
How to use Notion for project management?
In the following article, I will show you step-by-step how to build an effective project management structure in Notion. Follow the steps if you want to build it yourself, or purchase my Freelancer Compass Template to acquire a pre-built Notion dashboard for solopreneurs and small companies.
Building a Task List Database in Notion
The Task List Database serves in fact as a daily to-list. It features the tasks that are due on any given day. To mak sure that just due tasks are shown, you simply use the filter:
Due Date → Is on or before → Today
Most people prefer using a table view in combination with a checkbox property for this purpose. When processing your daily tasks, you simply check each completed task
This looks as follows:
Personally, inspired by Notion-god August Bradley instead of a checkbox I am utilizing a “select” property with the following statuses:
This makes a lot of sense when your tasks require to go through different stages before completion, e.g. when writing content or creating videos.
Which of those two possibilities you will use for your personal task management is up to your preferences and of course up to the nature of your tasks.
Managing Daily Tasks with Filters
You can filter your properties for specific instances such as dates, team members, and statuses. If you add a new task in such a filtered database the filter will be automatically applied.
For example: When I am creating a new task, I want the due date automatically to be tomorrow. This can be done by filtering the date property for tomorrow. Thus, any new tasks created will get tomorrow’s date assigned to them.
One more thing: I suggest using different views for adding new tasks and checking due tasks.
Prioritizing Daily Tasks
During a workweek, a huge load of new tasks will be assigned to you or your work team. The Pareto Principle states that 20% of a given input, is responsible for 80% of the output. Therefore, in order to remain productive, it is absolutely necessary to prioritize tasks so that you do not squander your time on work that contributes little to the outcome.
Prioritizing can be done in different ways:
1. Prioritize tasks yourself
Simply create a “Select” property and add 3 options:
- Do the “High” tasks first, Medium “Second” and “Low” only if there is time left for working on them.
2. Eisenhower Matrix
In some circumstances, besides importance, you also must take urgency into account. For those cases, you can utilize the so-called Eisenhower Matrix which was allegedly invented by former US president Eisenhower.
This Matrix can be easily recreated in Notion.
First, you need to create two checkbox-properties. One is called “Urgent” and the other “Importante”.
Now you also need a formula field to compute the right outcome. Insert the following code
if(prop("Important"), if(prop("Urgent"), "Do", "Schedule"), if(prop("Urgent"), "Delegate", "Eliminate"))
This will look like the following screenshot:
3. Marie Matrix
Lastly, there is also a variant of the Eisenhower Matrix called the Marie Matrix. It is named after the so claled queen of Notion Marie Poulin who invented this modification.
Instead of urgency and importance, she is considering the impact and effort of tasks. For Marie, a task that has high impact but low effort is considered more important than a task with high impact that requires high effort.
Moreover, instead of just having 2 conditions – high and low – Marie Poulin uses 3: High, Medium and Low.
This also means that we cannot use the checkbox property anymore. Instead, we need to fall back on a select property that contains the 3 conditions.
In the first step, we need to translate the conditions High, Medium, and Low into numbers:
Low Impact should return 3, Medium impact 2, and High impact 1.
if(empty(prop("Impact")), toNumber(""), if(prop("Impact") == "Low", 3, if(prop("Impact") == "Medium", 2, 1)))
For effort, it is the opposite:
Low effort should return 1, Medium 2 and High 3.
if(empty(prop("Effort")), toNumber(""), if(prop("Effort") == "Low", 1, if(prop("Effort") == "Medium", 2, 3)))
Now calculate the total priority with
add(prop("Effort Priority"), prop("Impact Priority"))
and display different statements according to the number. The lower the number the higher the priority. If the number is higher than 5 the task should be eliminated or delegated.
if(prop("Total Priority") == 2, "Very High Priority", if(prop("Total Priority") == 3, "High Priority", if(prop("Total Priority") == 4, "Medium Priority", if(prop("Total Priority") == 5, "Low Priority", "Eliminate"))))
How to manage individual projects in Notion?
First, what are projects?
According to Tiago Forte “projects are the nodes in your personal productivity network”. They are ”optimized for tracking progress, emphasizing clear definition, traceability, status updates, and maintaining direction”
Projects can be defined as molecules if tasks are seen as the atoms of your project management system. Just as molecules are made of atoms, projects are made of tasks.
You can replicate this structure in Notion by first creating a project database and second relating it to the task database. This way you can easily link each task to a specific project.
Also, when you open the project page, you can embed a linked view of your task database there.
If you now filter for the project’s name you will
- see all the tasks related to that specific project,
- each task will be automatically linked to the respective project when you create it within the project page.
This can also be set up as a template. Read my post about Notion templates to learn more.
Get customized dashboards for each team member
If you are working with a team, I recommend setting up a team-member database. This database will pretty much look like the project database we just set up.
Again, create a linked view of the task database inside the member page. This time, instead of filtering for the project name, filter for the name of the respective team member.
This way, each team member can work inside a personal dashboard on tasks assigned to him or her.
Link resources with projects and team members
Lastly, you should create a database that contains manuals, instructions, and other useful resources. Use the related property to link this database with team members, projects, or tasks that require a specific resource for completion.
Such a database can also be helpful for the onboarding process of new team members.
I suggest adding a linked resource database to each team member’s dashboard, filtered for resources that are relevant to that person
Get my Project Management Template for Notion
With the knowledge learned in this article, you are ready to build your personal project management system.
Notion is like Lego. For a start, the structure highlighted here will be sufficient for your business needs, but with time you will likely add your personal touch to this system.
If you wish to start with a pre-built system, you can also purchase my Freelancer Compass Template.
It’s a powerful project management template and dashboard for professionals using Notion.
The template helps freelancers and solopreneurs manage different projects, prioritize tasks with an Eisenhower-Matrix and track the time they are working for clients.
If you or your company needs help in setting up your project management workspace in Notion, you can hire me as your Notion consultant. Please provide me with some details and schedule a virtual meeting with me on Calendly.