Create organisation-wide transparency with a Company Wiki in Notion
In the digital age, organising information in a transparent and easily accessible way is crucial.
Every day, knowledge workers on average waste up to 2.5 hours searching for information. Personal knowledge management systems like Building a Second Brain have become massively popular, but they all focus on the individual contributor, not the company-wide organisation of knowledge.
The first step to improve your Organisational Knowledge Management (OKM) is a Company Wiki. With a Company Wiki in Notion, you will be able to break down knowledge silos, centralise information and make it quick and easy to retrieve documentation whenever you need it.
Best Practices for Organisational Knowledge Management (OKM)
Here are the best practices for Organisational Knowledge Management that you need to keep in mind while building your Company Wiki (or any other Knowledge Management System) in Notion:
Your setup must be easily understandable by everyone in the organisation. The higher the barrier for using a Knowledge Management system or for learning the tool that you use for it, the less likely it is that people actually stick to it.
And once people stop using your OKM, it’s back to square one and 2.5 hours down the drain to look for information.
Here’s where using Notion for business has a key advantage over other, dedicated Knowledge Management Tools.
For one, you can customise it any which way to make sure it’s perfect for your specific organisation. There’s no need to re-think the way you want to organize information just because the tool you’re using dictates a specific organisational hierarchy.
What’s more, Notion isn’t limited to being a Knowledge Management Tool. As you see in this article, you can also use it to manage people, plan and deliver projects, map out your OKRs (and track your progress) and so on.
Using one tool for many use cases cuts down on the time and resources spend on training your employees. It’s far easier to learn how to use one tool than having to remember the specific quirks of 5 different softwares just to start your workday.
As your organisation grows, it shouldn’t become more and more difficult to organize your information. Your Knowledge Management needs to be scalable.
The traditional approach of keeping information stored as word or Google Docs in folders is a good example for a system that gets more and more complicated as you grow.
It’s still fairly simple if you have only two departments in the beginning. All of them get a main folder and four sub folders.
If you’re looking for a document, you have to check a maximum of 10 places. That’s not ideal but manageable.
But now your organisation grows. You add two more departments. And you also need more organisation within your departments, so you decide to add another hierarchy level for your folders.
All of the sudden, you have more than 32 places where a document could be. The only way that’s scalable is if people across departments stop sharing information. Now they are back to a manageable number of folders to check, but you also created a Knowledge Silo.
Not really ideal.
Luckily, tools like Notion allow you to ditch traditional folder style hierarchies by introducing databases. Storing information in a database is far more scalable, because you can retrieve any piece of information in various ways.
No need to decide whether you file all SOPs company-wide in one folder or whether each department has their own folder. You can have both (and a lot more) ways to label the information in your database.
And it’s just as easy with two departments as it is with five.
Another common pitfall of Knowledge Management in Organisations are so-called information gatekeepers.
These are people within your organisation that hold absolutely crucial pieces of information – and that information isn’t publicly recorded.
The only way for someone else in the organisation to access the information is to talk to the gatekeeper. Which isn’t ideal, given that you probably didn’t hire the person to just help other people with their questions 24/7.
Let’s take a simple example.
Sarah has successfully pitched the need for a new expense management software. As a result, she got tasked with implementing the new solutions. Now she knows pretty much everything about the software and can easily handle even the most unusual data entries.
Unfortunately for Sarah, her company doesn’t have a strong documentation culture, so she didn’t document her research, process and practices anywhere.
If anyone in the company runs into issues with the expense software, there’s nothing they can do to figure out the solution on their own. They have to talk to Sarah.
So now, Sarah gets several emails every day, asking her for help with the new software.
Sarah is an information gatekeeper because no one thought to document her knowledge.
Which means she is now spending her day giving the same explanation over and over again, instead of focusing on her main role at the company.
Closely related to the issue of Information Gatekeepers is the topic of agency.
Good Knowledge Management empowers employees to look for solutions on their own.
If procedures, software instructions and best practices are all well documented and easy to find, employees are able to “unstuck” themselves when they run into issues.
That isn’t to say that Knowledge Management is an excuse to stop managing Direct Reports. But it’s an important building block in ensuring that employees develop agency and autonomy instead of relying on being micro-managed through every issue.
This becomes even more important for remote or hybrid teams. One of the undeniable advantages of being in the same physical location for most of the week is that it’s easy to find opportunities to ask colleagues for help. It becomes a lot harder to do so if you work across several time zones and try to establish strong boundaries for you employees, i.e. try to protect them from constantly receiving slack notifications that distract them from their work.
Again, organising information in Notion can make it a lot easier to transition from a “ask-someone-else” to a “I-can-figure-this-out-myself” culture.
Because information lives in a database and can be easily cross-referenced, building step-by-step SOPs and best practices is a lot more powerful than in google docs. Plus, you can easily embed looms and other visual elements to guide employees through their problem and help them help themselves.
Last but not least, it’s key to keep information relevant and up to date. If you regularly run into documents that look like they’ve been created on Windows 98, then you might lack a culture of keeping things up to date.
Again, traditional knowledge management systems don’t make it easy to update information. And every bit of unnecessary friction will slow your organisation down.
Let’s go back to our example of organising knowledge in folders in gDrive or on your laptop.
How do you assign responsibilities and review cycles? You could add a little bit of text at the top of a document. But unless someone opens that document, there’s no way to see when something needs updating.
(And if you open a document just to realise it’s in dire need of an update, it’s usually to late to do so.)
Alternatively, the person responsible could keep a huge running log of all their documents. That’s a lot of friction and a surefire way to avoid having people volunteer to keep things up to date.
With a Company Wiki in Notion, this isn’t an issue at all. Because everything is stored in a database, it’s super simple to assign responsibilities and review cycles. It’s even easier to create custom reminders and triggers for people to go and update information – all without the need to open documents or keep long, separate lists up to date.
Examples for Organisational Knowledge Management (OKM)
Getting started with Organisational Knowledge Management can seem daunting. But don’t worry, it’s actually fairly simple once you set up your basic structure. To help you off the ground, here are three example sections that you can add to your new Company Wiki in Notion.
A “Getting Started” page for new employees
New employees need a lot of information. But onboarding can be quite cumbersome and in particular with traditional folder based systems, it’s hardly possible to create a smooth and immersed onboarding.
If you use Notion for business however, it’s a breeze. Not only can you create beautiful daily onboarding documents (that you could assign via tasks in your Notion Task Management to a new hire), but you can embed videos, links and other pages directly in them. That way, your new employee doesn’t have to go looking elsewhere or browse through tons of old screenshots and can instead directly explore what you have to share.
An FAQ section
It’s a simple truth that some questions are just asked over and over again. And even if your text expander game is on point, it can get cumbersome to reply to 7 emails every day asking you about XYZ.
Luckily, an FAQ section is easy to put together. Just collect all the repeated questions in one document and start referring people to the document.
You could even leverage Notion’s API features to collect questions for your FAQ automatically and streamline the process even more.
This is another great example for key documentation in your new OKM system. It’s important for your employees to know exactly what to expect and how to go about certain benefits. So create a collection of pages in your Company Wiki that detail all the benefits and processes on how to get them.
How to build a Company Wiki in Notion
Building a Company Wiki in Notion is fairly straightforward if you keep a few guiding principles in mind:
- Your Company Wiki must be based on a database (to ensure Scalability)
- Your Company Wiki needs a dashboard that’s easy to understand (to ensure Accessibility)
- Pages need to have a responsible person assigned (to ensure Responsibility)
- Sorting needs to be intuitive (to help people develop Agency and Independence)
With that being said, let’s build a Company Wiki in Notion together, step by step.
Create your Company Wiki Main Page
To get started, simply create a new page in your workspace and call it “Your Company’s Name Wiki”.
We recommend to do so on the first level of your workspace or within your primary database for pages.
Make sure to click on the three dots in the top right corner of the page and turn on Full Width so that you have more space to work with.
Create your Company Wiki Database
Next, we’re going to create a toggle to store the actual Company Wiki database.
Hit enter a few times on the page and type / followed by toggle or use the + icon and look for the toggle block.
Call it Database or Backend to clarify that this toggle stores something important. Then, go ahead and create your Company Wiki Database as a full page database inside.
Pick the New database option from the setup and name your Company Wiki [DB] (we like Your Company’s Name Wiki Database but you might be more creative)
Build out the relevant properties for your Company Wiki
It’s time to set up the properties for our Company Wiki. The exact setup will vary depending on your company size, structure and needs but here’s a basic setup that you can use to get started:
- Name – the main property of the database
- Type – a select property to identify the type of document, like an SOP, a Company Policy or a Template)
- Department – a multi-select property to enable more granular sorting by assigning documents to the departments they belong to)
- Responsible – a person property to assign the person who’s responsible to keep it up to date)
- Review Cycle – a select property to define how often a page needs to be updated)
- Review Cycle (Helper) – a formula property to help us write out automatic review cycle formula)
- Last Review Date – a date property which acts as a helper property for our automated review cycles)
- Next Review Date – a formula property where we will write our automatic review formula)
Set up automated review cycles for your Company Wiki
To add a bit more power to this Wiki, we’re going to set up automatic reminders to update pages. Here’s how you do it:
- Set up a few review cycle time frames in your select property Review Cycle. In this example, we will go with Quarter, Bi-Annual and Yearly.
- Set up the Review Cycle Helper to translate this into the respective number of days. You can do that by nesting if-statements. Don’t worry, it’s not complicated. Here’s what it would look like for our example:
if(prop(“Review Cycle”) == “Quarter”, 90 , if(prop(“Review Cycle”) == “Bi-Annual”, 180, 365))
- Set up the Next Review Date formula by adding the time of the Review Cycle to the Last Review Date. You can simply copy the formula below, regardless of which Review Cycles you plan on using:
dateAdd(prop(“Last Review Date”), prop(“Review Cycle (Helper)”), “days”)
Now, your Company Wiki will automatically calculate your next review date so that all entries always stay up to date.
Turn Your Main Page into your Company Wiki Dashboard
Let’s bring everything together and make sure that people can easily browse your Company Wiki.
Again, the beauty of Notion is that you are super flexible with setting up the look and feel of your Company Wiki. We’re going to walk you through our simple example. Afterwards, you can take the principles you’ve learned and apply them to the specific needs of your company.
(And if you need some additional support, we’re happy to help)
When building your Company Wiki’s dashboard, you can opt for two types of content:
- Static Content
- Dynamic Content
Static Content on Your Company Wiki
Static Content means that you link to a specific document by using the Mention Page feature in Notion.
You should be using this method if you
- Build out an evergreen section in your wiki that rarely needs updates (in terms of the documents listed, not necessarily the content of these documents)
- Want to control exactly how and in which order documents are displayed
- Your Onboarding Pages for New Hires
- Your Company Policies
To do so, simply create your documents inside the Company Wiki [DB], right-click on it and select the Copy link option.
Then, navigate to your Company Wiki Dashboard and paste the link wherever you want to mention the page.
Tip: if you use the option Link to page, then the result will take up the whole block. That means that you won’t be able to write text before or after the page and you also can’t apply formatting.
If you want to get more creative with your wiki layout, opt for the Mention Page option. That way, the page will be “in line”, meaning you can use it just like any other text paragraph on your page.
Instead of copying the page link, you can also simply type the “@ symbol” wherever you want the page to be followed by the name of the page.
Dynamic Content on Your Company Wiki
Dynamic Content means that you use a Linked View of Database to pull in content from the Wiki Database. That way, the displayed content is automatically updated whenever you add documents.
You should be using Dynamic Content on your Company Wiki if you
- Create sections that need to reflect an up-to-date state
- Create sections that need to to offer additional filter and sorting options on a case-by-case basis
- A running list of your SOPs
- A list of templates filtered by a specific department
- All the documents that require updating soon
To do so, type / followed by Linked view and select the Linked view of database option or click on the + icon and scroll until you find that block option.
Next, select your Company Wiki [DB] as a source.
Afterwards, select new empty view and start configuring which documents you want to display.
As you know, Notion offers several different view options. What are the best views for a Company Wiki in Notion? Here at RadReads, we like:
- The list view for clean and minimalistic displays
- The gallery view to either create some visual interest through images or for a clean button-style look
Once you selected your preferred view style, start applying filters to show the right type of data in a dynamic way.
Here are a two ideas to display your documents on your Company Wiki Dashboard:
- Create a filter to only show a specific type of document. Useful to show a collection of similar documents like SOP’s, Company Policies or Branding Assets.
- Create a filter to only show documents that belong to a specific department. Useful to build custom collections for different teams.
To do so, click on the little grey Filter button that appears if you hover over your linked view.
Next, select the property you want to filter by. This is a great opportunity to check whether you need more properties in your Company Wiki [DB] if you realise that you need more granularity or filtering options.
Tip: With the + Add advanced filter option, you can start adding more complex filtering logic.
Among others, you can combine AND and OR filter statements (to show for example all documents that either belong to your Marketing or Sales Department) or create filter groups for even more power.
Lastly, select the type of documents you want so display.
As a last step, let’s create a special section that will show us documents that soon need updating.
- Create a new Linked view to database
- Select the Company Wiki [DB] and pick the list view
- Create a filter for Next Review Date
- Change the filter operator from is to is on or before by clicking on the small arrow next to it
- Click on the drop down next to the Date field and pick one month from now
Lastly, head over to the property settings and turn on the Next Review Date to show in your list
Bringing it all together
Now you know how to build out the different parts of your Company Wiki in Notion. Keep in mind the principles of Organisational Knowledge Management and finally create organisation-wide transparency by keeping everything organized in one central place.
You can get this Company Wiki in Notion plus all other templates mentioned in this Ultimate Guide with our free Notion For Business Template Pack.
How to manage remote teams in Notion
There are many challenges facing Remote Teams which include preserving company culture, onboarding new team members and enabling asynchronous collaboration.
Notion is a comprehensive productivity and collaboration tool that can help your team get on the same page and manage a remote team more effectively.
Setting communications expectations
The growth of employees is always accompanied by an exponential growth in communication paths. Brook’s law states that with 3 people there are 3 lines (i.e. permutations) of communications. With 5 people, the number of permutations grows to 10.
And at 14 people, it’s 91 pairs of communication interactions.
If you add on hybrid/remote working tools (Slack, email, Zoom and SMS) you can see how quickly communication can spiral out of control.
This is why it is vital for a company to establish their communications expectations in a document that’s read and internalized by all team members. This document should include:
- Specification of work hours: With smartphones in our pockets, we’ve kissed the 9-to-5 days goodbye. But if you don’t define boundaries for your colleagues, it’s unlikely they will define them for themselves — which will ultimately lead to burnout.
- Weekend policies: There’s nothing against working on the weekend, but is it expected? Consider the downstream consequences of someone sending an email, without explicit expectations (like the No Need to Respond aka NNTR tag).
- Response expectations: We live in a never-ending response cycle of pings, dings, comments and notifications. If you don’t codify these expectations, you’re bound to run into conflict.
- Emergency protocols: If an emergency happens outside of work hours, do you know how to reach the right colleague? Usually this will be someone’s phone number, but be mindful of international calling constraints.
- Specification of tools: Will you use Notion or Google Docs? Slack or Email? Loom or Zoom? Specifying a list of tools will reduce internal friction and the number of dropped balls.
To scale your teams without overburdening them with communications, you should explicitly lay out which tools you will use for the following use-cases:
- Internal Communication
- External Communication
- In-app Comments
- Task and Project-based communication
- Video Communication
Here’s an example of how we communicate at RadReads (and yes, of course we use Notion for our business):
- We don’t send email internally, it’s only for communicating with external parties
- All communications start inside our Project Management tool (Notion) through comments and “at-mentions”
- We originate conversations asynchronously using our “Document Inbox” (shown below)
- We use Slack for quick questions, but no one is expected to respond immediately (or keep the app open during the day)
How to build a Document Inbox in Notion
Here is how you can foster asynchronous communication for your remote team just in Notion, without relying on any third-party apps.
For this, we assume that you already implemented our guidelines for a Company Wiki in Notion. If you haven’t done that and your business also doesn’t have a central Document Database yet, check out the simple setup showcased in the next chapter about Project Management.
With a central place for all your documents in place, add four new properties to your database:
- Review Required – a person property to add people who should read or comment on a document
- Review by – a date property to indicate the deadline for comments
- Reviewed – a person property to indicate that someone read or commented
- Created by – a created by property that automatically indicates the person who drafted a document
And with just these simple properties, you’ve created an asynchronous communication powerhouse.
Whenever someone drafts a document that requires input from other team members, simply add them to the Review Required Property. Define the time for a response using the Review By Property. And if you need to provide additional context, simply use the in-page comment function to specify what you’re looking for.
Once someone has given their input, they add themselves to the Reviewed Property.
It’s a powerful workflow. All that’s missing now is a Document Inbox to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
Start by creating a new page (or append the following parts to your Team Member Dashboards).
Next, create a two column layout by dragging one paragraph to the far right of the screen until the light blue indicator turns into a vertical line.
In the first column, type / followed by Linked View of Database, press enter and select your central document database (that’s your company wiki, in case you’re using it).
Create a new view and opt for the list type. Next, set up a filter to only show documents that require your input within the next week.
Tip: instead of filtering for a specific person, use the Me filter that Notion offers. This filter dynamically displays data depending on which user is viewing the database. It’s a super useful feature for teams in Notion, because you only need to create a view once and everyone on your team can use it
Next, create a second Linked View of Database in the second column, this time filtering for documents that you created and that are still pending the final review:
And with that, your Document Inbox is ready. Never send another email reminder to your team about those 3 documents that you drafted last week or search through responses to see who actually followed through.
All your communication, at your fingertips. Fully asynchronous.
How to gain Clarity and Control with Project Management in Notion
What do Marketing Agencies, Software Development Companies and VCs have in common? They (and all other companies) need a robust, flexible and easy-to-use Project Management system to make sure that tasks get done, projects get delivered and goals are hit.
There are countless Project Management Tools out there but there’s a clear reason why Notion is our software of choice: it’s the one tool that adapts exactly to your needs and workflow (without requiring any coding).
Best Practices for Project Management
How to get started with Project Management?
While there are countless ways to approach this, all good Project Management philosophies share the same core principles:
- Coordinate resources and energy towards a common goal
- Create visibility around key metrics
- Create accountability and responsibility
- Align smaller pieces with the bigger picture
Let’s take a closer look:
Coordinate resources and energy towards a common goal
Our brain is an awesome tool to solve problems, but it is performing poorly when it comes to remembering and organising problems all on it’s own.
Those familiar with David Allan’s GTD philosophy know: it’s crucial to design a system outside your head to keep track of everything that needs to be done.
Good project management aims to do exactly that. Instead of relying on our brain and hoping that we’ll just work on the right tasks to move our business forward, we explicitly map out how to get from point A to point B.
To do so, Project Management revolves around big deliverables (Projects) and small units of actions (tasks).
This is where a lot of simpler software for Task Management often falls short. In Notion however, it’s easy to break something down into its components and track individual progress, thanks to a little magic called related properties (more on that down below in the “How to” section).
What’s more, by identifying small, individual steps within a larger project, you fight stagnation and inactivity. Big projects can be intimidating and paralysing. Isolated tasks lack the connection to the bigger picture.
But with a proper project management system, you combine the best of both worlds and establish a bias towards action in your company.
Create visibility around key metrics
The famous quote “What gets measured gets managed” (most often wrongly attributed to Peter Drucker) has received a fair share of criticism over the years, but one of its core messages remains:
Unless you know how well something is working, you can’t really optimise and improve it.
However, it’s crucial to track the right metrics or you’ll focus on improving the wrong things. Using Notion for business, you can easily customise exactly what you’re looking for instead of relying on some pre-built software that might or might not aline with your priorities.
Create accountability and responsibility
You’ve probably head of the bystander effect: the more people are around, the less an individual feels like it is on them to act or help.
The same dynamic can also be observed outside of life-or-death scenarios. Research has shown that employees are less likely to share important information with their manager if that information is widely circulated and commonly known among other employees.
Thus, a key challenge in Project Management is to counteract these tendencies to make sure that employees step up, take on responsibility and tackle the problems they see instead of staying passive and assuming that someone else will ultimately do it.
One way to achieve this is by assigning clear responsibilities and defining the expectations around everyone’s contribution.
Don’t just put a team together and send them off to “work on the project”. Designate a Team Lead, distribute specific sub-tasks among team members and implement a culture of accountability.
Align smaller pieces with the bigger picture
Just like any project can (and should) be broken down into smaller tasks, projects themselves are part of something bigger.
Call them OKRs, BHAG or SMART – a project should always get you one step closer to your overarching goals.
This is where Notion truly shines.
Many traditional Project Management tools overly prioritize the “getting things done” part of Project Management. And while it’s undoubtedly important to finish your projects, it’s even more important to finish the right projects.
The $10k Work of Project Management is to identify your main goals and to prioritize projects that will deliver the biggest ROI. And to do so, you need a holistic system that allows you to do every part of the process – from big picture vision to small step task – in one place with as little friction as possible.
Luckily with Notion, it’s easy to make these connections visible and connect your projects to your OKR’s
How to build a Project Management System in Notion
Let’s start by creating the three key databases that every Project Management System in Notion should have:
In fact, this setup is so flexible and so essential to pretty much any productivity system in Notion, that we would recommend this core to anybody using Notion for work – regardless of the industry you’re in.
And because this is the Ultimate Guide on how to use Notion for business, we’re going to add a fourth database into the mix: OKRs
(we’ll talk in more detail about OKRs further down in the article. For now, we just need the empty database)
Here’s a quick Notion tip: type out the names of several pages or databases that you want to create and use Notion’s turn into command to quickly create several databases at once
Now it’s time to set up the properties for each database
How to create a simple but powerful task manager in Notion
First, choose the database option inside the empty page and click on new database in the right side context menu.
Next, create all the properties required for a task manager in Notion. You can customise this according to your company’s needs, but we recommend that you start with this core setup:
- Task Name – the main property of the database
- Done? – a checkbox property to see, well, whether your task is done
- $10K Value – a select property to indicate the importance of a task
- Assigned to – a person property to indicate the responsible person in your team
- Waiting on – a checkbox property to indicate that you need input from someone outside your organisation for this task
- DO Date – a date property that helps you plan when to do a task
- DUE Date – a date property that signals a true deadline (learn why you need a separate property for this here)
- Overdue? – a formula property that automatically detects overdue tasks
Here’s the formula that you can use to check whether a task is overdue or not (make sure that you have a property labelled “DUE Date” in your database. Notion Formulas are case sensitive):
formatDate(now(), “DD-MM-YYYY”) > formatDate(prop(“DUE Date”), “DD-MM-YYYY”)
Quick Notion Tip – Checkbox vs Single Select: when setting up your database, you have various ways to implement functions. For example, you can use a checkbox property to indicate whether something is done or you could create a select property and have the options To Do and Done. You can use whatever you like best. Here at RadReads, our rule is as follows: if we only need two options (yes or no), then we go with a checkbox. It’s one less click to tick something off than to change a select property, so it’s easier to use. For multiple variations like the $10K Value, we go with a select property.
You also need two relation properties, though you need to set up the other databases first before you can create them:
- Project – a relation property connecting a task to a specific project
- Documents – a relation property connecting a task to a specific document
Once done, you’re task database should look like this (without any relation properties):
How to organize your projects in Notion
Create another new database for your projects. For this database, we recommend to start with these properties:
- Project Name – the main property of the database
- Status – a select property to indicate where a project stands
- Lead – a person property to assign the lead role for a project
- Contributor – a person property to assign team members to a project
- In the Loop – a person property to notify stakeholders without an active role in the project
- Start Date – a date property to indicate the planned project start
- End Date – a date property to indicate the end of the project
- Progress – a formula property to calculate the progress of the project
And just with the task database, we need a few relation properties and a roll-up. You can already create the relations to the task database since you build it first, but the other ones still have to wait.
- Tasks – a relation property connecting tasks to this project
- % Completion – a rollup property to look up the completed tasks (you’ll learn how to do this in a moment)
- Documents – a relation property connecting documents to this project
- OKRs – a relation property connecting this project to a specific OKR
If you never used a rollup in Notion, don’t worry. You can imagine a rollup like a window. With it, you can look at a value in a different database. Just like you can see your garden from your living room, you are able to see how many tasks are done in the tasks database while being on the projects database page. It’s fairly simple to set up with these three questions:
- In which database does the information live that you want to see? Your main database needs to already share a relation property with it. In our case, that’s the tasks database and you should have just created the relation property. In the setup for the rollup, select the database in the Relation option
- What information do you want to see? You can gather insights about one property in the other database per rollup. In our case, we want to know how many tasks are done, so we pick Done? as the Property option
- Lastly, we can show this information in different ways. If you click on the Calculate option, you’ll see different options depending on the property type. Because we picked a checkbox property, we get the option to show us how many boxes are checked or unchecked or the percentage values. We want the later to calculate our progress.
With this property in place, we can now create a fancy progress bar in Notion. It’s a slightly more complex formula, but you don’t need to write it yourself. Simply copypaste the text below (just make sure that the rollup property is named exactly “% Completion”. Remember, formulas are case sensitive).
slice(“■■■■■■■■■■”, 0, floor(10 * prop(“% Completion”))) + slice(“⃞⃞⃞⃞⃞⃞⃞⃞⃞⃞”, 0, 10 – floor(10 * prop(“% Completion”))) + ” ” + format(floor(100 * prop(“% Completion”))) + “%”
And with that, the setup for the project database is done. It should look something like this:
How to create a simple Second Brain in Notion
You could create a Project Management System in Notion with just two databases, but adding a third one for documents will greatly improve its capabilities.
The documents database will act as your company’s second brain. A place to store all the procedures, brainstorms and decision-making. Say goodbye to searching through countless Google Docs or Evernote folders trying to find that research you did for a project three months ago. Everything is available at your fingertip and will resurface in the right context.
And the setup couldn’t be easier. If you build a Company Wiki according to our Ultimate Notion for Business Guide, then just go ahead and use that database here. You only need to create two relation properties
- A relation to the project database
- A relation to the tasks database
If you don’t want to use the Company Wiki, here’s a simple separate setup:
- Document Name – the main property of the database
- Type – a select property to indicate what document you’re talking about
- Responsible – a person property to indicate who needs to keep it up to date
How to create your Project Management Dashboard in Notion
Now that the backend is set up, it’s time to build a simple dashboard. Here is a good alrounder setup that you can customise to the specific needs of your business:
And don’t worry. With the backend already build, you can create a dashboard like this in a few simple steps:
- To see your active projects, type / followed by linked view of database and pick your projects database. Pick the gallery view, set the preview to cover and filter for only projects that have the status In Progress (or whatever you use to indicate that a project is active). If you want to see the progress bar, navigate to the Properties settings and click on the eye icon next to it.
- For the next section, start by creating two columns. To do so, create two empty paragraphs and drag one to the very side of the screen, next to the other paragraph. The light blue indicator should go from a long horizontal to a small vertical line. Next, create a separate linked view of database of the tasks database in each column. One list filtered for all tasks that have a DO or DUE date today and one calendar
- Last but not least, create another linked view of database based of your projects database below and pick the board view this time. Group by the Status property and you’re good to go!
How to make more informed decisions and hit your goals with OKRs
All growing companies are faced with a common struggle: how do I align daily execution with the company’s longer-term objectives. There are many goal-setting frameworks used by individuals, teams, and organizations to define measurable goals and track their outcomes including OKRs, SMART goals, KPIs and OGSM.
Notion allows companies to architect, manage and track these long-term objectives in a flexible and dynamic manner that is fully adaptable to your company’s unique vision.
OKRs in a Nutshell
Objectives and Key Results (also known a “OKRs”) is a goal-setting framework for businesses. Their origins date back to Andy Grove’s days at Intel and were popularized by the venture capitalist John Doerr in his 2017 book titled Measure What Matters, which highlights the success that Google (amongst many other companies) had with this framework.
The framework is simple. You have an Objective (the “O”) which is a top-level goal that serves as a company “north star.” The objective is aspirational and motivational — it ties deeply with a company’s mission and values and should be stated in common language such that any stakeholder can clearly understand it.
Defining Key Results
Nested within the Objective are a series of Key Results (the “KRs”) that add metrics which are measurable. The Key Results should be frequent (daily or weekly), measurable (without any subjectivity) and easy to gather (through internal systems). Key Results should not be “inputs,” such as phone calls made or candidates contacted. Instead, they should be outputs that can’t be gamed — such as revenue, signed contracts or offer letters submitted.
This “package” of OKRs should be set on a regular (i.e. quarterly) basis and then updated on a regular (i.e. weekly basis). A small company might have 1-3 OKRs, while Google likely has thousands for each team. In a larger organization, the OKRs should “cascade” upwards (i.e. roll-up to one company-wide OKR), however that is a complex exercise beyond the scope of this article.
What is an example for an OKR?
As an example, imagine that you are the owner of a kids’ shoe store that sells direct-to-consumer (D2C) via e-commerce. Imagine it’s a small company, so you’d have one Objective:
Delight millions of kids with all-purpose and comfortable shoes that they can wear the entire day.
This objective is aspirational (“millions of kids”) and is deeply tied to the mission of selling shoes.
Typically an Objective will be bolstered by 3-5 Key Results, which could include:
- Ship $75,000 worth of shoes this quarter (Revenue)
- Add 10,000 subscribers to our email list (Lead Generation)
- Increase our NPS score from 55 to 60 (Customer Success)
How to report these OKRs
Each week the teams who are responsible for the OKR should broadcast where things stand using a simple email or Slack Message. This update (ideally sent at the same time on Monday mornings) should include:
- The current progress towards each KR
- The team’s top priorities for the week (to ensure that progress is made towards the OKR)
- A few health qualitative health metrics (i.e. Team Morale, Customer Satisfaction, Inventory Levels) for broader context
How to implement OKRs in Notion
When it comes to OKRs in Notion, we like to combine three Notion features to make sure that our OKRs have an actual impact on our day-to-day decision making.
- An OKR database for the OKR creation process
- A relation property to connect our OKRs to our projects
- A synced block to embed across our workspace
Here’s how you can implement (and adapt) OKRs quickly if you use Notion for business:
How to set up an OKR database in Notion (and link it to your projects)
Start by creating a fresh page, select the database option and opt for new database in the right side context menu.
Next, set up your properties. A basic OKR database should have the following:
- Name – the main property of your database
- Type – a select property to indicate whether the entry is an Objective or a Key Result
- Key Results – a relation property that connects to the same database (we’re going to explain exactly how in a moment)
- Objective – the second part of the relation property that connects to the same database
- Projects – a relation property that connects an OKR to the specific projects that are supposed to help achieve the goal (jump to the Project Management section to learn more about projects in Notion)
Depending on your company size, you might want to add an additional relation property or select property that connects an OKR to a specific department or team.
Now, to map an Objective to its key results, you’re going to relate the database to itself in Notion. It sounds complicated, but it’s fairly straightforward. Here’s how to do it:
- Create a new property
- Name it Key Results
- Select the relation type
- Select the same database as the relation target
- Switch on separate properties
- Name the second property Objectives
Now, you can create your Objective and link it to the specific and measurable key results.
Your complete database should look something like this:
This quick and simple setup allows you to
- Define your Objective (which is aspirational and motivational)
- Break it down into Key Metrics (which are frequent, measurable and easy to gather) and
- Link to the projects that are supposed to drive that metric forward
The last step is crucial. Sure, setting OKRs and implementing a solid Project Management System in Notion will set a solid foundation for your business. But put those two together and you ensure that you spend you time on the tasks that actually move the needle.
How to create company-wide visibility for OKRs using synced blocks in Notion
A while back, Notion introduced a heavily underrated feature: synced blocks. Granted, they are not all-too-spectacular when it comes to individual workspaces. But it’s absolutely awesome in a team workspace.
Put simply, you can use synced blocks to communicate in an unobtrusive and asynchronous way. And you can use them to remind your team of your core objectives.
To make sure that your OKRs actually guide everyday decision making and don’t just fall prey to a “set-it-and-forget-it” mentality, leverage synced blocks to display them in key areas.
Doing so is super simple.
First, click on the little dropdown arrow next to the blue New button on your OKR database. Then, pick + New template to create a quick template for your OKRs
You’re now creating a re-usable template for your OKR process. So while you’re at it, why not codify the process that your company uses to set OKRs? That way, you streamline future OKR-setting and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Don’t worry if this is tough. Setting OKRs isn’t easy, in particular if it’s your first attempt. If you need some help and would like us to support you, we’d love to hear from you.
Once done, type / followed by synced block. You should now see an empty block with a red outline on your screen.
Type out your OKR in the block and then press Copy and sync. You can now paste the OKR block across your workspace in several different locations. Updating one block will automatically update it everywhere, so you can use it to easily communicate changes or broadcast the current state to the team.
A few places to paste this would be:
- Your company homepage
- The dashboard of your managers
- The dashboard of your teams
- The project management dashboard
Now you always have your guiding metrics handy when making your next decision.
Improve your customer relationships and generate more leads with a CRM in Notion
Your company’s success depends on how you interact with your existing customers and potential prospects.
Yet it’s extremely challenging to keep track of every potential lead, each piece of feedback and ongoing custom requests. Traditional CRM software is powerful can often be a bit too much. Plus, if all that information only lives in your CRM tool, how are you supposed to use it for every day decision-making?
Here’s how you can leverage Notion’s built-in database capabilities to create a simple yet powerful CRM and Customer Feedback Tracker.
Best practices for networking and relationship management
A business thrives and survives based upon the quality of its relationships. This includes prospects, clients, vendors, evangelists and board members. It doesn’t matter if you’re a freelancer, solopreneur or CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
But staying on top of all of these relationships is challenging. There is so much information to track and update. The information includes:
- Personal Information
- Geographic Information
- Pipeline/Lead Status
- Communications history
- Associated Tasks
- Related Files and Documents
Customer Relationship Management Software (also known as a CRM) is a dedicated software offering to help manage all of these contacts and relationships. There are countless third-party options available ranging from highly-specialized (and customizable) software like Salesforce, to niche providers like Dubsado and then no-code tools like Notion.
The advantages of building a CRM in Notion
Notion’s flexibility provides a series of advantages in designing a CRM, which include:
- Customizability: Notion’s block architecture enables you to quickly customize fields, add tags and assigns users to your CRM.
- Database functionality: Most lightweight CRMs are built on top of a spreadsheet architecture, limiting the functionality of related tables.
- Cost: Notion is very cheap compared to a dedicated solution.
- Integration: Your CRM can sit alongside your documents, tasks and key files.
- Create different views: Create all different types of views, lists and charts to slice-and-dice your data.
- Ease of Use: Anyone can code and modify your CRM with just a limited understanding of Notion.
The disadvantages of building a CRM in Notion
However, Notion’s customizability is also a disadvantage as you’ll need to build anything you use from scratch. Here are some other disadvantages:
- Start from scratch: You’ll have to build your CRM from scratch which will be time consuming.
- No integration with Email: Stand-alone CRMs can integrate directly with Gmail and Outlook. This can be “hacked” using automations, but the solution will be sub-optimal.
- Maintenance: A Notion CRM will require maintenance, updating of fields and adapting to Notion’s constantly evolving feature set.
- Performance and Speed: Notion’s performance is slower than dedicated solutions, particularly on mobile.
- Required baseline knowledge: To truly take advantage of Notion’s feature set, your team will need to have a basic understanding of the platform, the features and formulas.
How to build a CRM in Notion
Adding a powerful CRM in Notion to your business workspace requires the same two-step process that you’re already familiar with if you’ve read through our previous sections
- First you’re going to build a backend database for your Notion CRM
- Then you’re using that backend database to build a powerful dashboard
Let’s dive in.
The database for your business CRM in Notion
To build your CRM in Notion, you need the following properties in your database:
- Last Name – the main property of the database
- First Name – a text property
- Sector / Industry – a multi-select property to indicate the job the person is working in
- Superpower – a multi-select property to list special skills and expertise of that person
- Passions – a multi-select property to list interests of that person
- Birthday – a date property for, well, the birthday
- Address – a text property for the address
- Email – an email property
- Phone – a phone number property
- City – a multi-select property
- Last Edited – a last edited property
- Last Check-In – a date property
- Frequency – a select property to pick the timeframe within which to contact the person
- Frequency Helper – a formula property
- Check-In Required? – a formula property
Most properties are pretty straight forward. And as always, you can always add more and customise depending on your company’s needs. For example, you could add a select property to record whether someone is a prospect, a hot lead or a customer.
The last four properties listed above power automatic reminders in Notion to reach out to people. To set them up, choose a few timeframes in the Frequency Property. For our example, we choose Monthly, Quarterly and Yearly.
Next, we need to translate these options into days so that we can have Notion automatically calculate when to check in with someone. We can do so by nesting if-statements in the Frequency Helper Property.
Don’t know how to do that? Don’t worry, here’s the formula that you can copy if you use the same frequencies (or check out our guide to Notion formulas)
if(prop(“Frequency”) == “Monthly”, 30, if(prop(“Frequency”) == “Quarterly”, 90, 360))
Next, we use the Check-in Required Property to see whether it’s time to connect to someone. We can do so with the formula below:
now() > dateAdd(prop(“Last Check-In”), prop(“Frequency Helper”), “days”)
And with that, your CRM in Notion backend is all set.
The dashboard for your business CRM in Notion
For a simple CRM dashboard, start by creating two columns.
The left column will be used to quickly add new leads. To do so, type / followed by linked view of database and pick your CRM database from the options. Create a new empty view and select the list view.
The trick for creating a quick capture field in Notion is to set an impossible filter for your database. That way, it will always be empty and all you see is the new button. Here at RadReads, we like to use main property is empty.
The right column will list our most recent contacts. Create another linked view of database and pick the list view. To create a rolling “most recent entries” view, add a Sort and sort the database by the Last Edited Property in Descending order. Now, set the load limit in the database option to 10.
That way, you always see the last 10 contacts that were added.
Next, let’s build a section to see our contacts by industry.
Create a linked view of database and pick the table view. Go to the Group option and opt for Group by Sector.
If you want, you could create several different grouping views to also display your contacts by interest, city or expertise.
All that’s left for the simple CRM dashboard is the last section: our reminders.
Create another set of two columns.
The left column will show us the people that are flagged for a check-in. To do so, create a linked view of database, pick the list view and filter for people where the Check-In Required Property is checked.
In the right column, create another list view but this time filter for Birthday Property is within the next month to be reminded ahead of time.
And with that, your CRM Dashboard in Notion is ready.
How Notion can help you upgrade your management style
A company’s most potent and important resource are its employees. And managers play a key role in unlocking talent, leveraging skills and advancing the company’s mission.
But since there’s no playbook for being a great manager, there’s no one tool to support the various approaches to management.
Notion’s flexibility enables managers and leaders to manage their 1:1s, keep track of employee progress and deliver performance feedback.
Maximize the impact and the value of your 1:1s
Regular conversations with your direct reports help you keep your team on the same page and rowing in the same direction. They help you anticipate obstacles, get your reports unstuck and give the confidence that they are on the right track. And in a world of hybrid work, where serendipitous interactions are less frequent, they are critical for employee engagement and satisfaction.
While the process is simple, many managers get tripped up by a poorly designed process and a lack of standardization.
Here’s what you should remember when designing your 1:1s:
- They are for the direct report, not the manager: Try to maximize listening and question asking. Let the direct report lead the conversation.
- They require a regular cadence: Don’t let scheduling become an added burden. Pick a date and protect it with fervor.
- They don’t have to be weekly: Your more seasoned employees may require less frequent communications (and some can be held asynchronously).
- Try not to reschedule: Things happened, schedules move. But try your hardest to limit rescheduling as much as possible. If you do reschedule, provide transparency to your direct report your reasons for doing so.
- You’re playing coach, mentor, teacher and advisor: Help your direct reports take the “long-view” of their careers.
If you use Notion for business, you can use a shared Notion Page to keep a “living agenda” of what will be discussed. This page can include:
- Big wins for the week: It’s too easy to brush wins aside, so give your direct reports a moment (and log) for them to shine. This will be useful when revisiting performance reviews.
- Where are you stuck: A manager’s primary responsibility is to get their direct reports unstuck. Ask them explicitly how you can do that.
- Calibration towards broader goals: Your direct reports lack the context you have on the bigger picture. Help them zoom out so that they can see how their actions and activities move the needle on the bigger picture.
- Career conversation: A great manager cares about their direct reports as humans first. You’d be naive to think that they’ll stay at the current company their entire careers. Help them think through how their current role maps to their broader future.
- List of follow-up action items: The meeting may surface a lot of follow-ups. Ensure you have them all in one place.
How to build a 1:1 dashboard in Notion
Your 1:1 dashboard in Notion should include four elements:
- A template button to quickly create the weekly update
- An agenda database to plan the conversation
- A task database to quickly check in on the workload
- A synced block with the relevant OKRs
Everything is pretty easy to put together, if you already have the backend in place. You will need a master task database for your business in Notion and an OKR database (just click on the link and you’ll jump to the relevant section in this guide).
If you followed our recommendation to use synced blocks to display OKRs throughout the workspace, start by pasting the relevant OKR at the top of the page. This ensures that both you and your direct report keep the bigger picture in mind while discussing the current week.
Continue the build by typing / followed by template button. This will open a context menu. Here, you can define the name of the template button (the first brownish field) and the content that will be created every time you click on the button (the second brownish field).
For the content, we recommend using a toggle and a timestamp. You get a timestamp in Notion by typing @ followed by “today”. If you do so inside a template button, Notion will give you two options. The actual timestamp for now and one for when you “duplicate” the section, i.e. when you press the button. Given that you want a new timestamp for each entry, pick the “when duplicating” option.
Inside the toggle, add the questions that you want to answer in each meeting. We recommend to keep this short and to the point. You don’t want to turn these weekly meetings into an unnecessary burden for your direct report.
Once done, hit the blue close button and your template button is ready.
Next, create simple database to store your agenda. You could also use simple checkboxes, but a database has the added advantage of creating a permanent record, so it’s easy to go back.
Simply type / followed by “database – inline” and hit enter. You don’t need a lot of properties. These three are usually enough:
- Agenda Item – the main property of your database
- Date – a date property to indicate the meeting where this item will be discussed
- Done? – a checkbox property to tick off as you go through the meeting
To make filling out the agenda quicker, we recommend that you set up a date filter. Simply click on filter, pick the date property and then fill the next meeting date.
If you now input anything into the database, it will automatically have the correct date. Once your meeting is done, simply update the date. This will clean out the old items and all newly added items will receive the new date.
Last but not least, type / followed by “linked view of database” and pick your master task database. Filter for open tasks assigned to your direct report. Now, you have a quick way to check in on the ongoing work and discuss priorities for the next week.
And with that, you have a simple yet powerful dashboard to organize your 1:1s.
Clarify expectations asynchronously by managing up
While 1:1s act as a communications anchor with your team, there’s a quicker (and asynchronous) approach to keeping all team members on the same page. This shifts the onus from the manager to the direct report, adding proactive-ness and utility to the relationship.
Managing up works best via a weekly cadence, typically towards the end of the week. It can be as simple as an email or Slack message, but using Notion pages will standardize and expedite the process.
When writing your Managing Up weekly update, you should aim to answer these 3 Questions:
- What I accomplished this week: Managers will be busy and will lack the context to know everything happening from their reports. This makes it easy for them to get a top-down view of everything that happened. (And for the report, serves as a great anchor for performance reviews.)
- Where I need you: A direct report may need edits, approvals and feedback to keep a project moving. Give your manager actionable steps so that they can unblock you and keep you on your way.
- FYI: The direct reports know that you’re being pulled in a hundred different directions, so they may not want to pepper you with interesting finds, things to read and other information to be consumed at the manager’s leisure.
Ideally this process should not take more than 15 minutes or else it becomes a double-sided burden. (Too much for the report to prepare, too much for the manager to read.)
Building a Managing-Up template in Notion
Managing up isn’t just an easy way to improve the communication with your manager and increase the visibility of your work. It’s also super simple to implement in Notion. In fact, this is probably one of the easiest builds in our Ultimate Guide on how to use Notion for Business, so there’s really no reason not to get started immediately.
Start by creating a new page. On there, type / followed by “template button”. This should bring up this context menu.
Now replace the text in the first grey box with Add a new weekly report. This is the button text that will appear on your page.
The second grey block should contain the rough outline of your weekly report. It will be duplicated every time you press the button to make reporting easier and standardise it.
You can customise it to your liking, but here’s our recommendation:
Start with a toggle heading and the today timestamp. You can get the timestamp by typing @ followed by today. Make sure to pick the “when duplicated” option. That way, you’ll always get the current timestamp when you press the button.
Inside the toggle, nest the key questions you plan to answer each week. We use our examples from above:
- What I accomplished this week
- Where I need you
Now press the blue close button and your template button is ready.
All that’s left to do is to create another toggle on the page called Archive. You can drag old reports in here to keep them out of sight but still close for reference.
Tip: going through these weekly reports can be particularly useful when putting together your performance review. More on that in the next section.
And you’re done. Pretty easy right?
Deliver feedback during performance reviews
Feedback and performance reviews are critical components of a transparent and self-reflective culture. Yet they often fall by the wayside for a few reasons: awkwardness, lack of prioritization or limited usage due to their “check the box nature.”
Similar to 1:1s and Managing Up updates, performance reviews require a regular cadence (typically quarterly or semi-annually) and a pre-determined structure.
Here are attributes of a good performance review process:
- Structured, yet flexible: Human beings can be tricky and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to reviews. Yet you should provide enough structure so that there’s consistency in the process, milestones and trajectory.
- Displayed manager commitment: Managers must take the process seriously. This means preparing, listening and not getting defensive if both parties disagree.
- Focus on employee growth: While performance reviews will be backwards looking by definition, they should incorporate a plan to move forward and grow.
- Objective and transparent: Evaluating someone’s performance (in the absence of strict metrics) can be very subjective. To the extent possible, support statements with data and examples. Use documentation and verbal reminders to highlight transparency along every step of the way.
To start your performance review process, have your direct reports answer questions like:
- What went well this quarter? Why? What was the impact?
- What could have gone better this quarter? Why? What was the impact?
- What do you want to focus on in this next quarter?
- What’s a skill you’re looking to develop and how can we support you?
You may want to add a ranking to monitor and track performance over time. Use a 3-5 ranking scale along a criteria that coincides with your company’s values and mission. These could include:
- Long-term thinking
Building a performance review template in Notion
Continuing with our easier Notion for business implementations, adding a performance review template to your workspace won’t take more than 5 minutes.
Start by creating a new document in your main document database.
(if you don’t have one yet, check out the section on building a company wiki or on project management in Notion)
Add the questions that you want to answer during the performance review to the body of the page. Customise it to your specific needs. Here at RadReads, we use these questions:
- What went well this quarter? Why? What was the impact?
- What could have gone better this quarter? Why? What was the impact?
- What do you want to focus on in this next quarter?
- What’s a skill you’re looking to develop and how can we support you?
And that’s it! A simple doc but a powerful habit.
Plan Your Next Marketing Campaign in Notion
Marketing Campaigns are huge efforts that require company-wide coordination. Various teams like sales, operations, product, finance and design all need to execute campaigns in parallel. And this all needs to be done in the context of your company’s broader mission and vision.
That’s a lot of moving pieces even without taking into account more technical aspects like creating the right design assets, writing persuasive copy or segmenting your email list.
The existing option is not attractive: drown in a cascade of Google Drive links, Trello boards, email threads and Slack notifications – or build an integrated marketing campaign tool in Notion that keeps everything neatly organized in one place. Here’s how.
How to plan a Marketing Campaign
When it comes to planning your next marketing campaign, there are usual two distinct stages:
During the ideation phase of planning your marketing campaign, you need to brainstorm creative solutions to reach the right audience with the right message.
Afterwards, it’s time to move on to execution and make sure your awesome idea doesn’t fall short because of some technical mishaps along the way.
Both stages come with their own unique challenges. Knowing beforehand what they are will help you navigate potential pitfalls and rock your next marketing campaign.
Ideation – how to come up with ideas for your marketing campaign (the right way)
The ideation stage usually has two challenges:
- Creating high quality ideas
- Choosing the highest bang-for-your-buck idea
With regard to the first one, everyone talks about doing a brainstorm, but few cover the actual conditions that make a brainstorm a success.
Ideally, you have a system that is rigid enough to show you context and inspiration but gives you enough freedom to explore various angles.
At first sight, Notion might not look like much of a creative tool. After all, it’s a text editor without any free style drawing capabilities, no whiteboard and tons of structured databases.
But compared to more traditional tools like Google Docs or Trello, using Notion for business offers a lot more flexibility. You can easily start from a blank sheet, pull in information from related projects as inspiration or embed pretty much anything you want in a page.
Plus, even if you prefer a different tool for brainstorms like a digital whiteboard or good old pen-and-paper, your Notion system can be set up as the “one app to rule them all” and act as the hub that combines all other tools.
And once you’ve collected enough ideas, it’s time to chose your winners.
Your business will always operate under certain limitations. There is only so much time, energy and other resources that you can pour into a campaign.
So it’s important to identify the highest leverage ideas and double down on them instead of getting weighted down by tons of projects that don’t really move the needle.
Here’s where Notion shines again. Thanks to the flexible database structure, you can easily combine intuition-based decision making with data-driven analytics. The best of both worlds to rock your next marketing campaign.
Execution – how to deliver a marketing campaign and wow your audience
If you’re not convinced yet that Notion is one of the best tools to plan your next marketing campaign, then things are about to change.
To turn your idea into a successful marketing campaign, you need a tool that
- Allows you to break the campaign down into individual steps (aka project management)
- Can easily coordinate collaboration between various team members, departments or even across companies
- Has a built-in calendar to ensure your marketing plan doesn’t have any unforeseen conflicts
Bonus points if the tool can also help you automate parts of your workflow to free up additional time and resources (check the last chapter for more information).
Notion checks all the boxes. What’s more, because you can organize every part of your business in Notion, you’ll find additional synergies. No artificial separation between departments and their knowledge and project management means that information can flow freely and people are empowered to actually work on the marketing campaign (instead of wasting time fighting with different tools).
Let’s take a closer look on how to implement this in Notion
How to build a Content Pipeline for your Marketing Campaigns in Notion
When it comes to creating a Content Pipeline in Notion, you have two options:
- Repurpose the Project Management System that we’ve built in a previous chapter
- Create a separate Content Pipeline Database
Which route you go largely depends on how much content and which other projects you have.
If you produce content only occasionally (one or less piece each week) or every piece of content is a huge undertaking (like a movie), then you should just treat them as projects.
(check out the chapter on Project Management in Notion to learn more about that)
If you have several pieces of content to publish each week or highly repetitive, smaller scale pieces like instagram posts, tweet storms or newsletters, then we recommend using a separate database.
That way, you can tailor the content pipeline database to the specific needs of your marketing campaigns without adding unnecessary complexity to your main projects database.
Here’s how to build this separate database and how to integrate it with your larger business system in Notion:
Building The Content Pipeline Database in Notion
Create a new database and add the following properties:
- Name – the main property of the database
- Status – a select property to indicate the production stage of the content
- Channel – a select property to indicate the medium (Newsletter, Youtube, Podcast etc)
- Type – a select property to further differentiate if you have several accounts for a specific channel or an ongoing longer series to group your content together
- Excerpt – a text property to quickly summarise the idea behind the content
- Publish Date – a date property to schedule your content
- Lead, Contributor and “In the Loop” – three person properties just like in the project database to assign roles to team members
- Tasks – a relation property to your main task database
- Projects – a relation property to your main project database
- Documents – a relation property to your main document database
You can use the Status Property to plan out the exact step-by-step process that your marketing team uses for content production. Here’s an example of how these stages could look like:
- Creating Assets
Don’t be afraid do define different steps for different types of content. You can always set up your board views later to only show the steps relevant for a specific type of content.
Building the Content Pipeline Dashboard in Notion
Now onto the command centre for your marketing department: the content pipeline dashboard in Notion.
Start with a blank page.
At the top, create two columns by dragging one paragraph to the very edge of another until the light blue indicator line turns vertical.
In the left column, create an area to note down some quick ideas for the next campaign. Notion databases are awesome and we have an Idea Property there, but sometimes it can still feel a bit too formal. Adding a loose brainstorm space together with a drag-and-drop capture box is a great way to get the best of both worlds.
To do so, type / followed by “template button”. This will open up a context menu:
Use the first grey box to name the button (something like “create new brainstorm”).
In the second grey box, remove the auto-filled to-do item and add a toggle. You can add a timestamp to the title of the toggle or just put a TOPIC placeholder there. Inside the toggle, add a few empty bullet points.
Click the blue close button to stop editing the template button.
In the right column, type / followed by “linked view of database”. Pick your newly created Content Pipeline, create a new view and pick the list type.
Next, set up a filter for Name is empty. This “impossible filter” means that your database view will never show any existing entries. Instead, it just acts as a capture inbox for you to drop content ideas that are ready to leave a brainstorm and enter the pipeline.
To make sure that everything enters the pipeline correctly, add another filter for Status is Idea. Dragging an item in the view will now automatically assign it this status.
Below the two columns, it’s time to create the main view for this dashboard: your content pipeline.
Type / followed by “linked view of database”. Pick your Content Pipeline Database, create a new view and opt for the Board type.
In the properties options, turn on the information you want to see at a glance. We recommend you toggle on the lead, the channel and the publish date.
This view can now act as your one-stop-shop to quickly see all your marketing campaigns at a glance.
And to better plan out campaigns over time, let’s add a calendar view below.
For that, type / followed by “linked view of database”. Pick your Content Pipeline Database, create a new view and this time, choose the Calendar type.
And with that, your Marketing Campaign Dashboard in Notion is done. The setup is fairly simple, but you can easily build on top of it. Here are some ideas:
- For even more powerful planning, add a Timeline View below the calendar.
- If you have a main channel or several big channels, consider creating separate dashboards just for that type of content. To do so, simply duplicate the current setup and add filtering for that channel. Just remember to use the same main content pipeline database to also get the benefit of viewing all content on one dashboard
- Create templates for specific content types and include a checklist with the typical steps necessary to produce that content (or link to an SOP that lives in your company wiki!)
Regardless of which customisation you choose, you now have a powerful Content Pipeline in Notion to step up your marketing game.
Improve your Decision-Making with Notion
Every company has to navigate scarce resources of time and human capital. There are always more projects, more ideas and more possible improvements on the table than you could possibly tackle and implement.
Let’s be honest, Notion can’t make the right decision for you. But using Notion for business will provide you with all the pieces needed to make a well-informed and thoughtful decisions.
In this chapter, we explore how a unified information architecture, documented frameworks and asking the right questions can take your decision-making to the next level.
The problem with traditional decision-making advice
There’s a lot of strategies out there that are supposed to help you to make better decisions. But how helpful are they in real life? Let’s take a closer look at a few popular methods in the productivity space:
The Ivy Lee Method
The Ivy Lee Method recommends that you write down your six most important tasks on a list, order them according to their priority and then work through that list from top to bottom.
This is certainly a good approach to reign in an overflowing to-do list, but it leaves one crucial question unanswered: how do you actually figure out what’s your highest priority task?
It’s the linchpin that makes or breaks your list. Put the wrong thing at the top (or worse: the wrong things on the list altogether) and you might march into the wrong direction.
And while figuring out the most important thing on your to-do list is already hard for an individual, things get even harder if you’re running a business and have to plan not only for yourself, but for your team (or the whole company).
The Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix is a decision-making framework that aims to separate tasks into four different categories along two axies, importance and urgency:
- DO (important and urgent)
- DECIDE (important but not urgent)
- DELETE (not important and not urgent)
- DELEGATE (not important and urgent)
Again, it’s a great approach in theory, but once you start categorising your tasks accordingly, one realisation is quick to come: most things fall into the top right quadrant:
So, how do you prioritize if everything is a priority?
The Eat The Frog Philosophy
Famously attributed to Mark Twain, the “Eat the Frog” philosophy recommends to start with your biggest, most complicated task. That way, all your energy goes into your biggest roadblock and once you’re over it, you’re on the highway to a highly productive day. At least in theory.
In practice, there’s a lot of problems with that.
First, not everyone is a morning person. If your brain only starts working past noon, it’s probably not ideal to waste your whole morning on something you simply don’t have the mental clarity for. Managing your energy, however, is as important (if not more so) than managing your time.
It’s also clearly less a system than some well intended advice for people who are prone to procrastination. That shows as soon as you’ve ticked the first task of your list: what are you supposed to do with the rest of your day?
And of course, it’s not a way to run a business. Listing out all your challenges and then spending all of your energy trying to head-bang your way through the biggest obstacle is a surefire recipe for disaster.
The Getting Things Done Methodology
Getting Things Done is a flexible and holistic task management system. It’s been around for a while, but with the right modifications, it can still work in 2022. Put simply, GTD aims to free up your mind by implementing a step-by-step process to handle your tasks:
- Step 1: Capture
- Step 2: Clarify
- Step 3: Organize
- Step 4: Reflect
- Step 5: Engage
It’s a great system and we highly recommend it to everyone who hasn’t tried it so far.
But, unfortunately, Getting Things Done would be more aptly named “Getting Things On Lists And Organize Them”. It’s great at freeing up your mind to do the actual work. However, it lacks any tangible advice as to how “doing” actually looks like and what tasks to tackle first.
(David Allen addresses this explicitly in his book. The goal isn’t to tell you what to do next. GTD wants to free up your mind from having to remember tasks so you can then figure out what’s the most important thing on your list)
So… what’s after GTD? How do you actually get things done?
Four steps to improve your decision making
Here are four steps that will help you improve your decision making, prioritize your most important tasks (even if everything feels like a priority) and put your business on the track to success:
- Assign every task a value
- Use “Even-Over” statements
- Measure Return on Effort
- Clarify dependencies
Lets take a closer look:
Assign every task a value
Using simple statements like “this is important” or “this is not important” lacks the granularity that we need to make actual decisions. Instead, aim to assign specific values to your tasks: just how impactful is it?
To help you make this process easier, we’ve developed the $10K Framework.
You can look at every task through two lenses
- How much skill does it require?
- How much leverage (i.e. outsized output compared to the relative input) does it offer?
Put them together and you can apply actually useful labels to your tasks and quickly identify:
- Which tasks will actually move the needle?
- Which tasks are required to “keep the light on” in my business?
- Which tasks are a “necessary evil” – still important, but nothing that will actually contribute much to the success of my business?
Use “Even-Over” statements
The best decision making systems need to make one thing explicit: everything is a trade-off.
No matter how good your system and process, regardless of the tools you use, there will always be more to do than you have possibly time for.
And instead of ignoring this simple truth, you need to work with it. Or else, you run the risk of overspending time on trivial things in the mistaken belief that once you get to the important stuff, enough time will still be left.
“Even-Over” are a great way to get started. They acknowledge that something is important. But at the same time, they help you clarify that something else is even more important to the success of your business.
Yes, it’s important to ship new features fast. But you might decide that you value product quality EVEN OVER execution speed.
Or that you value innovation EVEN OVER maximising earnings for existing products.
Or that your employees value undisturbed time EVEN OVER a higher salary.
These statements might well be reversed in your company. Either way, you need to make them explicit to be able to execute your work accordingly.
Measure Return on Effort
If you run a business, then you’re familiar with calculating your ROI: how much do you get in return for your investment?
But there’s actually a closely related metric. Your return on effort. And it’s a very useful number to keep in mind when it comes to moving your business in the right direction.
(it’s in particular super helpful for smaller companies that don’t have the analytics in place to slap a price tag on every task to calculate the actual ROI)
When deciding between two tasks, don’t just look at the output. Take the output and compare it with the required time and brainpower to get something done.
Let’s say you need to decide whether you focus your marketing in the next quarter on either youtube or twitter.
- Writing a tweetstorm will take roughly 30 minutes and generate 10 leads
- Filming a youtube video clocks in at 10 hours, but each video brings in 150 leads
If we calculate our return (the number of subscribers) for our effort (the time invested), the tweetstorm beats the video with 0.33 to 0.25.
But now we can take it a step further. We can add probabilities (or variability) into the mix. Maybe the tweetstorm only works in 1 out of 4 times, whereas the video is a fairly certain approach with 80% thanks to the more reliable algorithm.
Now the youtube video would be the way to go as your relative expected return on effort is 0.2 compared to a meagre 0.08 for twitter.
And don’t worry. You don’t need to break out your calculator for every decision. Further down below, we show you how you can build a decision making database directly in Notion.
Last but not least, if you run a business it’s absolutely essential that you step outside your own role and look at the bigger picture to improve your decision making.
And while that sounds hard in theory, there’s actually a simple trick: clarify dependencies.
When looking at your tasks, don’t just consider what the task in isolation brings to the table. Start paying attention to the domino effect that this task has on other projects and teams.
It might well be true that just for you, making two cold calls today offers the best results. But if you look at the bigger picture, you might be better off tackling that internal presentation where you share best practices for cold calls to help your team perform better overall.
In other words, if a task unblocks other tasks and helps other people do their job better, it adds additional value to the expected return on effort.
How to implement better decision making in Notion
In this implementation section, we’re going to focus on two ways to implement better decision making in Notion.
- How to make better decisions with a task manager in Notion
- How to measure Return on Effort in Notion
Let’s dive in.
How to make better decisions with a task manager in Notion
You can instantly upgrade your task manager in Notion by integrating the aforementioned $10K Framework.
To do so, simply add a new Select Property to your existing Task Manager database called “$10K Value” and add the four quadrants as options:
(you already have this if you use the project management setup that we build in a previous chapter)
Next, let’s add a simple prioritisation dashboard. You can create a new page for this or simply add it to an existing task dashboard.
Start by creating a 2×2 matrix layout. To do so, create two separate sets of columns.
Add a Toggle Heading to each column and name them according to the quadrants in the $10K Matrix above.
Add a coloured background to each section to further build out the matrix.
Inside each toggle, add a linked view of database, pick your task manager and create a new view. To keep things in a minimal look, opt for the list type. Lastly, set a filter for each database to only show tasks with the corresponding $10K Value that are not done yet.
And with that, you have recreated the $10K Matrix directly in Notion. You can add further filters for your various departments to help every team member see their relevant tasks at a glance and empower company wide better decision making.
How to measure return on effort in Notion
In this section, you’ll learn how to turn a Notion database into a calculator for return on effort. This will enable your team to quickly quantify the results of any brainstorm to see which projects are worth pursuing and which aren’t.
For this example, we’re going to use a very simple calculation based on three variables:
- Expected Return – how much are we hoping to get from this?
- Expected Effort – how many resources will this project take?
- Success Rate – how sure is the positive outcome of this project?
Let’s assume we’re building this calculator for the marketing department at your company. The return will be measured in leads and the effort in hours of work required to deliver a specific campaign.
Once you understand the underlying concept, you can easily customise the setup and add more complexity to tailor this approach to your business.
Start by creating a new database. Alternatively, you could also use the Content Pipeline Database from the section on How to Plan Your Marketing Campaign in Notion or the Projects Database from Project Management in Notion.
Create the following properties in addition to the main property:
- Expected Return – a number property
- Expected Effort – a number property
- Success Rate – a number property
- Return on Effort – a formula property
You can copy paste the following formula to calculate the Return on Effort:
prop(“Expected Return”) * prop(“Success Rate”) / prop(“Expected Effort”)
Remember to set the Success Rate Property to percent like so:
Now add a Sort and sort by the Return on Effort property. That way, your database will automatically show your most promising projects at the top.
And with that, your new Return on Effort calculator is ready to assist you with your decision making.
Foster Cross-Functional Cooperation with Product Roadmaps in Notion
As your company expands its product and service offerings, it becomes harder and harder to keep your teams on the same page.
Different departments can fall into the trap of creating knowledge and communication silos.
Unfortunately, most software accelerates this process by imposing hierarchical systems on users that make it harder to keep the big picture in mind.
Notion enables you to easily build out tools like global Product Roadmaps to ensure that everyone in the company can collaborate effectively and scale your product development process.
Creating product roadmaps
Before you create your first roadmap, it’s important remember that this is a strategy doc that offers a bird’s eye view of an entire project. Ideally it communicates a story and not a massive chart with lots of feature details and due dates. The roadmap should attempt to answer “What” and “Why” questions and not “How” questions.
The function of the roadmap is to articulate what problems you want to solve and in which order. It’s a tool to gain feedback on your product and understand the needs of ALL stakeholders. A great roadmap will tell a story for all the key stakeholders and will include customer research data, revenue projections and prioritization flags. It will also include:
- All project deliverables
- What you want to achieve
- Who you are building this for
- Why you are prioritizing them
- Team dependencies
- How this aligns to your broader vision and OKRs
How to build a Product Roadmap in Notion
Get started by creating a new database. Create the following properties:
- Feature – the main property of the database
- Status – a select property to indicate whether this is queued, in progress or done
- Pitch – a text property to describe the desired outcome for this feature
- Audience – a text property or a select property to define the customer type you’re building this for
- Expected ROI – a number property to note how this will affect the bottom line
- Lead – a person property to indicate the responsible person
- OKR – a relation property to your OKR Database to connect each feature with the broader vision
- Projects – a relation property to your Projects Database to break down the feature into individual deliverables
Next, create a second view for your database by clicking on the + Add view button below the database title.
Pick the Board Type, set the Card preview to “none”, the card size to “medium” and Group by to “Status”. If you want your board to be more colourful, toggle on the option to “color columns”.
If necessary, rearrange the columns to reflect the actual order in which a product feature goes from idea to completion.
Then, navigate to the database options by clicking on the three dots next to the blue New button and select properties.
Now, click on Show all and then drag the different properties around to choose the order in which they are displayed on the board.
Tip: you can click on the eye icon next to Status to hide that property again. You already know the status by the column a feature is in, so there’s no need to display it separately.
Now, fill out your upcoming features and you’ve got a product roadmap ready to go.
Case Study: How to scale your business with automations for Notion
Here’s a simple case study on how we leverage automations and Notion at RadReads to gather powerful insights on how to best serve our customers best (while fostering empathy, care and attentiveness).
What are automations for Notion?
Put simply, an automation helps you free up time and resources by having a computer do manual work that would otherwise be part of your to-do list.
Automations are a powerful source of leverage. Automate a process once and it will keep saving you more and more time.
Can you automate a process without knowing how to code?
Definitely! Thanks to the rising popularity of no-code, there’s a whole range of tools that allow you to build powerful automations without writing a single line of code.
Our personal favourite here at RadReads are Make (formerly known as Integromat) and Zapier.
If you’re completely new to automations, check out our Complete Guide to the Notion API.
How we approach automations at RadReads
To automate pretty much any process, we follow this simple 5-step-process (that you can easily copy):
- Define your desired outcome: what do you want to happen?
- Define the individual steps of manual work to reach the desired outcome: what do you (usually) need to do?
- Identify which steps of the process are static (i.e. they always look the same) and which are dynamic (i.e. they change a bit depending on the situation)
- Identify which steps can be automated and where you always need some “human touch”
- Build your automation!
How we combine Market Research and a delightful student experience (while saving time) at RadReads
Time for the case study: here’s how we use the power of automations to gather powerful insights while delivering an awesome experience to students of our flagship course Supercharge Your Productivity with only 5 minutes of manual work.
Case Study: Planning the automation
Let’s walk through the 5-step-process as outlined above.
- Desired Outcome: to tailor our course to the individual needs of our students, we conduct an onboarding survey. We also want to offer our students the ability to network effortlessly and get to know each other through a Student Directory.
- Individual Steps: we need to send a survey to our students, collect the answers in Notion for further revision, create a separate database for our Student Directory and fill it with only the relevant data. We also want to add an image and a link to their introduction in our slack channel.
- Classify Steps: pretty much all steps are dynamic – all the information changes from student to student
- What can be automated? Nearly the complete process can be automated. We need to manually update our survey questions for each cohort, but that’s about it!
- Building Time! Let’s take a closer look at the building process
Case Study: Building the automation
The whole process will require several different steps:
- The survey responses need to be captured in Notion
- Some information from the responses needs to be copied to the Student Directory
- The profiles in the Student Directory are updated with information from Slack
Before we build the automation, we need to have the separate elements in place.
- A survey in our survey tool
- A Notion database with one property for each question in the survey to capture the responses
- A Notion database for the Student Directory with properties for the answers that will be shared with others (like name, occupation or city)
- A Slack workspace with an introduction channel
The automation starts inside our survey tool. We are currently using reform, but most form builders work the same. To start, navigate to the Integrations settings of your form builder and look for the connection to Notion.
Next, authorise your tool to access your Notion workspace by following the instructions on the screen.
You don’t need to select any pages during this setup step. You can always allow an integration access to a page through the Share settings in Notion. Either way, make sure that your survey tool can access the database in Notion that will capture all answers.
Next, your survey tool will ask you to choose the database in Notion (pick the one to capture responses) and to map your survey questions to the corresponding Notion properties.
While mapping, make sure that you map fields to the right “data type” in Notion. If you ask for a number in your survey tool (and have it configured as a number answer field), use a number property in Notion. If it’s text, use a text property and so on.
Now, your survey tool should be set up to send all responses directly to Notion.
That means we can focus on step 2 of the automation: creating the Student Directory based on the form submissions.
Not all answers in the onboarding survey are meant to be shared with all students. We only want to extract specific answers. For that, we’re going to use Make.
Create a new scenario and start with the Notion Module Watch Database Items. Pick the database that stores all survey responses and set the limit high enough to handle all responses.
Run this module only with some sample data in the database to ensure that everything works properly.
Now, create a second Notion Module, this time opting for Create database item. Pick the database that will host the Student Directory and map the corresponding properties.
And that’s it. Run this automation once all survey responses are collected or schedule it to run at regular intervals and it will automatically extract the relevant data for the Student Directory.
Which leaves us with one last step: looking up a person in the slack workspace to get their profile picture for the Student Directory and to add their introduction.
This requires a slightly more complex automation. Here, we start with a Slack Module and choose Search for Message.
Set up a connection to the slack workspace and enter a query for the introduction message. This one will depend on the way you organize introductions in Slack.
For our course Supercharge Your Productivity, we have a dedicated channel, so we use “in:#02_intros” to search only messages in this channel.
To make sure that we only grab the introduction message and not a comment somewhere else, we also search for a word inside the introduction message template.
Next, we look up the user details with the Slack Module Get a User.
And then we use the email returned in this step to find the corresponding entry in the Student Directory with the Notion Module Search Objects.
Now, we can add the Slack Introduction Message that was found in step one to the corresponding entry in the Student Directory using the Update Database Item Notion Module.
And lastly, we add the profile picture as the cover image for that Student Directory entry using the Update a page Notion Module.
Both Notion steps should further have an Ignore error handler module to ensure that the automation runs properly even if it doesn’t return an introduction or profile picture for a student.
And with that, we’ve automated our Market Research for our flagship course Supercharge Your Productivity while at the same time creating a delightful student experience. All fully automated and any additional time investment beside the initial setup and the review of the survey questions.
How to manage your business in Notion – Summary
You can manage your business in Notion, accelerate your teams and enable better cooperation across departments by implementing these elements for your company workspace in Notion:
- Create organisation-wide transparency with a Company Wiki in Notion
- Manage your remote team in Notion by implementing a Communication Protocol
- Gain Clarity and Control with a Project Management System in Notion
- Supercharge Your Growth with OKRs in Notion
- Generate more leads and improve your customer relationships with a CRM in Notion
- Upgrade your Management Skills through 1:1, Managing Up and Performance Reviews in Notion
- Plan Your Next Marketing Campaign in Notion
- Implement a Decision-Making Matrix in Notion
- Foster Cross-Functional Cooperation with a Product Roadmap in Notion
- Scale your business through automations in Notion
And if you don’t want to build your Notion workspace yourself, work with us or get all the templates mentioned in this Ultimate Guide down below