The Best All-in-One Productivity Program

The Hyades is an open star cluster, currently torn apart by gravitational disruptions, nearing the end of its life. Don’t let your motivation get torn apart by diverse productivity efforts. Stay grounded and remain focused with Notion, an all-in-one productivity program.

Hi, everyone! Welcome back to my blog. ❤ First off, I want to thank all my subscribers for following my weekly posts. I really appreciate your support! And secondly, this post is inspired by the co-creator of Nano-Planets, a rad individual in my research group. Stick around to the end for a poll!

But before I reveal my all-in-one productivity program of choice, let’s talk about the Hyades star cluster.

The Hyades star cluster, located only 150 light years away, is the nearest and most well-studied star cluster. (Credit: ESA/Hubble)

The Hyades is an open star cluster located a mere 150 light years away. From Earth, it is visible as the distinct V-shape of the Taurus constellation in the night sky during Winter and beginning of Spring (can you spot the horns of the bull in the featured image?). According to sky mythology, the Hyades are the half-sisters of the Pleiades, who were cast away onto the night sky to keep them away from the romantic pursuits of Orion the hunter. The gods, fearing Orion knew no bounds, beamed the Hyades into the night sky as well.

According to recent results, the Hyades are “falling apart and will soon die” (Crosswell, Science News). Stars are departing the cluster, leaving never-before-seen leading and trailing tails (shown below in green and blue, respectively). Already, more stars exist in the tails than do in the cluster. It is estimated that the 680-million-year-old Hyades only has 30 million years left before it loses its mass entirely. This is about equal to 3 years relative to the lifespan of a human.

The distribution of stars in and around the Hyades cluster. The dense red center is the cluster itself. As the cluster revolves around the Milky way, some escaping stars travel ahead and lead (green) while others lag behind and trail (blue). Credit: S. Röser, E. Schilbach and B. Goldman/Astronomy & Astrophysics 2019

Open star clusters, as the name implies, are groups of stars that formed together but are loosely gravitationally bound. As such, close encounters with with neighboring clusters or molecular clouds, supernova explosions from the most massive short-lifetime stars, and even their own orbital motion around the galactic center have the potential to break these clusters apart.

Back in the early years of my undergrad, I was super eager about trying out all of the note-taking and productivity methods out there. My main focuses were, of course, self-improvement and learning new material in an efficient manner and so I allocated my efforts into four or five different styles of organizing my life at a time. Some efforts were fruitful, and led the others, while other efforts were minimal, inhibited my productivity, and eventually trailed off. Instead of reminding me of my focus, my lose commitment to a myriad organizational tools ripped apart my motivation.

That was until I found Notion. Notion is an all-in-one workspace that allows users to write, plan, collaborate, and get organized. Through Notion, one can take notes, add to-do lists, track and manage projects, and much, much more. The beauty of this program is that it is fully customizable and can do anything that the user desires, all in one place. Free from the distraction of switching from one application to another, Notion users are guaranteed to remain focused on their goals and aspirations.

So let’s outlast the torn-apart Hyades. Here’s why you should use Notion.

1. You can Create and Separate Different Workstations

Workspaces are completely isolated “virtual desktops” where you can organize information about pretty much anything, and it will remain confined within that section. Since I like having instant access to everything I need, I personally only use one workspace, called “Diana’s Notion” where I keep everything that is personal to me.

If you instead would like to create an additional virtual desktop to share with others, ie a workspace that anyone in your team, class, or leadership board can access, you can do so in just a few clicks. Setting permission for workspace members is effortless. In addition, members of one workspace cannot access a different one unless it is public or they are invited. 😉

2. It is an Organizational Superstar

Notion provides all the tools to get organized. When it comes to organizational styles, there is not one magic method that works for everyone. With Notion, you can design your own dashboard and build the platform that works best for you. There are also plenty of templates out there to get ya started. 🙂

Let’s take a look at my homepage. When I originally designed it, I wanted a landing page that had absolutely everything I needed to access on a day-to-day basis. And so, I scoured the internet to find some inspiration, and in the end I based my main page on a synthesis of few templates that I found online.

I included a toggle section for my Goals and Aspirations to function as a daily reminder of my motivations. A Quick Reference section is for pages that I like to access randomly but frequently. Then, my tasks are separated into three categories: things I want to do Every Day, main goals I would like to complete This Week, and my Weekly to-do list, which breaks down exactly what I need to do to fulfill my weekly goals. I also like to track my Readings and Ratings (pls don’t judge the low number of books, O.K.). As part of this “12 Week Year” regime that I am currently following, I also included my 12 Week Objectives. Each of the items in that particular table links to its own individual page where I track my progress towards that specific goal.

Notion gives you all the tools to organize your life and remain organized, while simultaneously giving you all the power to set everything up. 🙂

3. It Can Work as a Research Journal or Personal Journal

Since I am still going through the pages of my physical journals, a little disclaimer: I have not yet used Notion as a journal but plan on switching over soon!

I love this particular setup inspired by Reddit user /u/ia1987, and will probably use it with some slight modifications for my journals in the future. ❤ For some tips on categories for the research journal table of contents, don’t forget to check out my entry on “How to Keep a Research Journal”!

In case you would like to find a specific term in your entries (or the entire workspace, for that matter), Notion has a Quick Find feature (shown in the upper left) that almost instantaneously points you to the page(s) containing that term.

4. You Can Program it to Do Things via Formulas

RECORD SCRATCH. Yes, that’s right. Just like one would do in Excel or Google Sheets, but better, in a Notion workspace you can add a formula property that automatically calculates your desired result. I will not go into the details of how to program formulas and functions, instead I point you to the following official Formulas Documentation.

As you may have noticed, I am trying to learn Dutch and one way to memorize specific Dutch words and corresponding definitions is through spaced repetition. I wanted to design a page in which I could easily add new words, categorize them by my level of mastery and, accordingly, the page would automatically display “Today’s Words” via a spaced repetition algorithm. If I categorized a word as Level 1, I would see it again in 0 days. If it was Level 2, I would see it again in 1 day. If it was Level 3, I would see it again in 3 days, etc. Notion let me do just that. Now, my Dutch for Dummies page displays newer and more difficult words more frequently and older and easier words less frequently, allowing me to efficiently learn and retain the Dutch vocabulary.

5. It Knows LaTeX.

Game. Changer. Anywhere in your workspace, you can add and display beautifully formatted mathematical symbols and letters, expressions, and equations using LaTeX. Equations can be inserted either inline or in their own block by either the backslash command or the double $ sign, typical to any LaTeX editor. It’s perfect for note-taking! So far, I’ve been using this feature the most throughout my Statistics practice.

6. It Recognizes Programming Languages

Whether you’re learning a new programming language, creating an archive of code snippets, or documenting your research scripts, Notion code blocks make is easy to display code in nearly every programming language. Notion automatically supports the proper syntax and coloring of the selected language. I can already imagine how beneficial this feature will be when I transfer my research journal onto Notion! 😉

7. It’s Free!

If you are a student or educator, you can access the nearly infinite potential of Notion’s Personal Plan absolutely free of charge. Notion’s Personal plan allows users to create unlimited blocks (ie., lines of information), share their workspace with unlimited members (pls share them w/ me) and synchronize across unlimited devices. There is also no file upload limit. The Personal Plan comes over forty block types (ways to add information), over fifty built-in templates, and the functionality to build wikis, create notes, and develop databases. So, what are you waiting for?

Undoubtedly, the possibilities with Notion are endless. But the best part about it is that everything is there and ready to use in one single place. The all-in-one functionality of Notion makes it impossible for any productivity efforts to either trail behind or go astray from your main goals and aspirations. Unfocused productivity will only lead to a dilution of motivation. Instead, cluster your productivity with Notion.

Note: In no way am I sponsored by Notion. I am just super super excited about this program, and simply wanted to share it with you. 🙂

Welp. Thanks for sticking to the end! I’ve been considering adding some perks exclusive to subscribers, and I was wondering which ones you would be the most interesting in receiving.

Here are some ideas:

  • Weekly reminders of what is visible in the night sky.
  • Productivity quotes.
  • Study and organizational tips.
  • Other. (Please specify!)

I would love to hear what you think. ❤