Stop, Read This Before Deciding if Notion Is for You

8 reason you shouldn’t use notion

Hi friend!

In recent years, Notion has exploded in popularity.

It seems like everyone is using it. But before you jump on the bandwagon, I want to share 8 big reasons why Notion might not be the right productivity tool for you.

💡 Today at a glance

  • Quick Recap of Notion

  • 8 Reasons Notion Might Not Be for You

Personally, I’ve used Notion for the last 5+ years.

It started off as a personal knowledge management tool (replacing Microsoft OneNote). It quickly replaced my task and project management tool. Not long after, Notion became my recipe and meal planner, travel planner, journal and so much more.

I’m saying this not because I think Notion is the best productivity tool for you, but rather to show you the possibilities with Notion.

While it’s a great tool that fits the needs of my life, work and business, it’s not for everyone. In my clarity calls with eager Notion users, there are actually times where I point them to other tools instead of Notion based on their goals and needs.

Quick Recap of Notion

According to John Hurly, Notion’s head of product marketing, Notion’s lofty mission is to build “an everything tool” to help every knowledge worker in the world to work better.

It’s a highly flexible digital tool that has the potential to replace multiple tools that you currently pay for with one all-in-one tool. It’s also a powerful collaboration tool for internal and external teams.

Think of Notion as a digital equivalent of Lego blocks. You can design and create anything if you know how.

(And if you don’t know how, people like me are here to help)

Notion can replace your:

  • To-do app

  • CRM software

  • Journalling app

  • Note-taking app

  • Goal setting system

  • Project management app

  • etc.

But before you get too excited, I don’t want you wasting time playing around with Notion only to realise it’s not going to solve your problems.

So read this before you commit to Notion.

8 Reasons Notion Might Not Be for You

1. No offline mode

I’ll start with my biggest beef with Notion.

In a recent interview between Notion expert Matthias Frank and Notion, Matthias ask if the most in-demand request, offline mode, is being worked on by Notion. The bottom line is don’t hold your breath for offline mode. Notion hears the feedback but there is no timeline or detail on if and when it’ll happen.

So if you’re a frequent traveller, are off the grid a lot or if offline access is critical for you, then consider another tool that has offline mode.

2. Notion can be very slow (if you’re trying to display a lot of data)

If you need to see thousands of rows of data in a database very often, Notion might not be the best fit for you.

For most people, seeing that much data is actually unproductive and distracting. In fact, Slow Productivity is all about whittling down what you see to exactly what you need to see, so you can focus.

So for most people this limitation isn’t really a problem.

For example if Notion is your to-do app, you’re probably not trying to see thousands of tasks in one go. You’ll want to just see the handful of tasks that are on your plate today, tomorrow or this week.

3. Notion is a jack of all trades but (mostly) a master of none

This might be weird for me to say, but I think Notion is a great generalist tool, but not a specialist tool.

A superpower of Notion is that it’s flexible. You can build almost anything in Notion —task manager, multi-scale planning and review system, travel planner, CRM, project manager etc.

But if you’re looking for specialised functions like the ability to efficiently manage hundreds of leads or to send an email directly from your CRM to your clients, then a specialist CRM tool would suit your needs better.

If you’re looking for a generalist all-in-one app that can replace the majority of your apps and save you hundreds of dollars in digital tool subscriptions each year, then you should consider Notion.

I like to think of Notion as the master of the 80/20 Pareto principle.

Notion does 80% of what you need, which is the most impactful 20%. The rest is gravy.

4. Notion does has a steep learning curve.

This is the biggest challenge for new Notion users.

Notion can be a complex tool to use and learn, and a bit hard to understand at the beginning. Especially if you want to use it well and not turn it into a chaotic dumping ground of pages.

I totally understand as I experienced this myself when I first got started 5+ years ago.

If you don’t have the time to learn how to use or design your Notion workspace with best practices in mind, Notion might not be for you. But that’s also why people like me exist to help busy solopreneurs and business owners with tiny teams get organised and set up in Notion exactly in the way you like to work, and then show you how to use it.

(By the way if you feel like your Notion workspace feels like a messy dumping ground right now, then I think you’ll find a ton of value from learning how to work clean in Notion. I even had people say to me they followed the steps and decluttered their Notion in 15 minutes!)

5. Not for storing highly sensitive information

Notion takes security seriously.

It has a lot of security features you would expect from an online tool (e.g. data encryption, 2-factor authentication, the physical servers are securely located). But if you’re planning to store highly confidential information like patient medical records, health care data, financial data etc. in Notion, I personally wouldn’t.

My background is in the healthcare industry. For sensitive information like patient information we were using very locked-down and bespoke tools to store, retrieve and track that kind of information.

For most people and business owners, Notion’s level of security is more than enough if you’re using it as your engine for running your business or tracking things in your life.

7. You can’t limit a user’s view to just part of a database in Notion

I think Notion is a great tool for managing and working with internal teams, where data is freely shared within teams and sub-teams.

But if you’re using a Client Portal to track client-specific tasks, notes and projects etc. in Notion, and want to keep that confidential from other clients you work with, you can’t use the same task database or the same Notes database that is accessible by all clients.

This is one big limitation you must know.

There is no way to restrict users from just looking at certain data in a database. It’s all or nothing. There’s a simple solution to this though.

Just set up separate databases for each clients (with the right database naming convention to avoid chaos). If you design your Notion system properly to keep it organised and onboard your clients well, it’s a small price to experience the power of Notion

7. Lack of email privacy

If you’re using Notion to work with external clients, just be aware that everyone who interacts with your Notion workspace in some way will see each other’s email address.

It’s probably not a big deal, but something worth noting.

8. Limited native integration with other apps

Notion can connect to a load of other apps, but you’ll need to use a third party tool like Zapier or Make to really integrate apps together. This adds complexity and costs.

I personally focus on designing simple systems and workflows in Notion because I don’t want to spend time using and maintaining Notion. I want to spend more of my time doing the work that really matters, and maximise my time living a life outside of work and Notion.

Last year, Notion released something awesome: You can now automate workflows in Notion databases!

It’s a powerful feature that helps you streamline your Notion use (if you design it right).

External automation and app integrations has its place if you run a very large or complex business, or use a ton of other apps that you can’t get rid of. There are even Notion consultants who just focus on creating automation and integrating Notion with other apps, so it’s definitely possible in Notion.

But if you’re looking for native integration with other apps within Notion itself, it’s still quite limited.

If none of these 8 reasons have deterred you, then congratulations, you’re one step closer to picking Notion as the right tool for you.

Don’t waste time tool hopping.

I’m a firm believer that part of slow and effective productivity is picking the right tool for the right job. Not the hottest tool in the market that everyone is using. This intentionality will save you a lot of time in the long run.

If you think Notion is the right tool for you, but you’re struggling to figure out how to turn Notion into a simple and productive tool you actually enjoy using?—Hit reply and I’ll help you sort it out.

See you next week,

Janice CK

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