How To Start Building a Personal Workspace in Notion

I was initially overwhelmed by Notion, but after overcoming the learning curve with the help of YouTube creators like Marie Poulin and refining my focus, I now use it daily to track habits, manage goals, and build consistency in my life—here's how you can too!

How To Start Building a Personal Workspace in Notion

When I started using Notion in July of this year (2020), I was amazed by the possibilities of the platform. From keeping track of personal growth with habit-tracking to note-taking and business management, there is a lot that can be done — and for free with their personal plan.

Even though Notion’s potential was clear to me from the beginning, I did find it difficult to get started. After having a near non-existent Notion workspace for about one month, I delved back in while watching Marie Poulin’s video tutorials and since then it has become an application that I use daily.

Here’s how I overcame the initial learning curve and got started with creating my personal workspace.

Determine your focus

To start building my workspace, I identified the parts of my life that I wanted to focus on tracking or improving — these life buckets helped me to clarify goals and stratify key focus areas.

Get inspiration

Creators on YouTube were my main resource for learning how to use Notion — the following channels were the most valuable:

  • Marie Poulin
  • Red Gregory
  • Keep Productive
  • Notion Office Hours

Once you know where your focus should be and you have an overview of how Notion works and what it can do — it’s time to start building!

Start with your homepage

Visualize how you want the information on your page to look — I recommend starting off by sketching or listing the components that you want to have on your page. The layout should be functional, visually appealing and can include motivational elements, but don’t spend too long here — choose a layout and go with it as it’s very easy to move blocks around to suit your needs over time.

The homepage is like your landing page or dashboard — a page where you can get quick access to your workspace content organized in a way that best serves your needs.

Decide if you want your workspace to be in dark mode or not from the start so that you can choose page icons accordingly. (Only applies if you’re using icons from Notion VIP)

I created this homepage for someone who wanted to focus on building consistency with studying and exercise:

Pages > databases

Build pages based on your focus areas and then build databases inside of your pages. This allows you to add multiple linked databases showing filtered data as well as other blocks to the same page.

Win the day

In his book Discipline Equals Freedom, Jocko Willink emphasizes the importance of consistency — “unmitigated daily discipline in all things.” To even begin to grow towards this goal means mastering the day. Our days determine our years which become the essence of our life. Over the past 2 months that I have been using this tool to track my habits, I have noticed significant progress in my daily exercise, reading and creative habits (still working on consistency with studying but I’m getting there!).

Below is my progress from August 26th to present from my daily log database:

I followed the layout that Marie Poulin uses to track daily habits in my daily journaling page. Tracking my daily habits in this way keeps me accountable as my mind knows that at the end of each day I have to document what I accomplished or how I fell short. It also forces me to evaluate the parts of my routine that is actually working for me vs what needs to change.

It’s a work in progress

Your pages don’t have to be perfect — especially as a beginner. You will see elaborate databases and work spaces which can either inspire you or make you feel overwhelmed depending on your perspective. It’s important to remember that we learn as we go along. Your pages should be specific to your needs and functional. The functionality of the page will increase as you use it more and begin to edit out what isn’t necessary. The following page is a work in progress — I’m still working out the best way to set up meal planning and other health related data.

Have fun and keep creating!

No matter what you decide to use Notion for — have fun creating, organizing and growing.