Notion for Assistants
As assistants, we are many things to many different people, but at the very core, I believe we’re the knowledge base of any company. We understand how things work, we know which levers to pull or push in order to get things done, we can read rooms and offer analysis on team dynamics. The value of this skill cannot be overestimated, however it is also exhausting to keep all this information in our heads (though many of us do, and exceptionally well).
More than any other tool, I’ve found that Notion allows me to do everything I’ve just described, whilst giving me the headspace to focus on what really matters.
Here are my favourite ways to use Notion as an assistant.
Making the most of databases
Databases may sound scary, but I promise they’re not. Within Notion, a database is a collection of pages that you can view in different formats, for example as a calendar, a board, or a classic table. Databases are useful as you can collate all “like” information together and then search, filter or manipulate it to get the most out of it.
I use databases in three main ways.
Tracking to do lists
I use a mixture of board and list views to track my to-do lists. Each item is its own card, and each card can be opened up into an individual page, meaning you can add as much detail to an item as you need to.
I’ve created different templates so I can follow the same structure each time I create a new “to-do”. This means that I won’t forget to add important information, I don’t need to think about how I’m going to organise it, and I have a “single point of truth” for each request.
Notion board views have pre-set statuses, but you can edit and add to them so that the boards work best for you.
Organising meeting notes
Calendar view makes organising meeting notes a doddle. In Calendar view you simply select the day of the meeting, open up the page, and take your notes. If you want to take it one step further, you create templates to make it even easier to take effective notes, and add tags so that you know, at a glance, what topics were covered in the meeting.
Maintaining restaurant and hotel lists
Before Notion I used to keep lists of restaurants and hotels in Sheets. It wasn’t the most user friendly sheet and was, frankly, a bit depressing to look at. Gallery view solves this as you can add images of the restaurant or hotel and, like I mentioned above, you can add different tags, for example, location or “type of food”. This database helps me track restaurants that my exec and team have been to, want to avoid at all costs in the future, or really want to try.
As assistants, we are adept at creating processes, not only because it is efficient but also because following a set process leads to predictable results every time. Making sure these processes are followed by the wider team, though, can be a bit of a struggle.
Notion has solved this for me as I document every process that I have set up as well as any helpful “hacks” I’ve picked up along the way. Each page follows the same template - what is this process for, what access/tools do you need, a step-by-step guide - and means that if I’m ever ooo handover is super simple as everything is already documented. Documentation also makes the whole team more autonomous and I no longer feel like I’m repeating myself several times a day.
Bonus - homepages
Last year I redeveloped my Notion homepage and my efficiency instantly kicked up a notch. My homepage is where I store all the key information I need easy access to, as well as my to-do list and meeting calendar. At a glance I can see what tasks are pending and what are in progress and, because of different filters I’ve set up, my to do list will automatically show tasks with a reminder set for the day in question. Having everything laid out in front of me removes the anxiety that I might have forgotten something and gives me a clear framework when planning my day.
If you love this template as much as I do, you can now add it to your workspace and make it your own. Just follow this link.
Notion is one of those tools that, once you get the hang of it, and really dive into it, can have a transformative impact upon your ways of working, efficacy and - as I’ve experienced - the way you organise thoughts at the most basic of levels. That doesn’t mean, however, that you need to master every bit of functionality. Get to grips with the basics, find out what works for you, and go from there. Your team - and headspace - will thank you.