The comprehensive Notion guide perfect for beginners who feel overwhelmed
Notion improved my productivity as someone with ADHD.
Apr 05, 2024
7 min read
Table of contents:

Have you ever heard of Notion? It's a free productivity tool that was released in 2012, but it has gained significant popularity over the past year. I started using Notion when I began working at Inflow as the editor-in-chief and organic content manager.


Since then, I have become known as the Notion expert among my colleagues and freelancers. Despite being the most disorganized person I know in the physical world, I have a talent for digital organization. I want to share my Notion knowledge with everyone, especially those with ADHD, so they can understand how to use this tool to achieve their goals.


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What is Notion?
Notion is an online tool available as a web app and a mobile app. It is free to use, completely customizable, and can assist in achieving a wide range of goals. (If you are keen on discovering how to utilize Notion on your phone, check out our guide for mobile users!)
What can Notion be used for?

The limit does not exist! (Mean Girls reference)

Here are just a few things you can do with Notion:

Project management and tracking for managers and freelancers
Knowledge database for work or personal interest
Calendar and reminders
School materials for studying or thesis planning
To-do lists and kanban boards
Pinterest -style idea boards with photos
Wikis and guides
and so much more!
Notion beginner essentials
Before you continue reading, I highly recommend
so you can follow along with this guide!
It’s best to learn by doing!
opening Notion another tab in your
Shortcuts and commands for keyboard.
Before beginning to create pages and databases, it's advisable to familiarize yourself with shortcuts and commands. They significantly enhance efficiency and speed up the entire process. Here are the ones I find most useful:
1. Forward slash (/)
The forward slash is a versatile tool for both basic formatting and adding new elements to your text. As you type on a page, simply include a forward slash followed by a list of commands, and voila! A plethora of options will appear. And here's a little tip: there's no need to scroll through them all! Just start typing and let the suggestions filter through, reminiscent of a Google search. Now, let me share with you the commands that I find most useful:
To-do lists
Toggle lists
Headings 1, 2, and 3
Upload or embed image
[add new] Page
Inline databases are a simple way to create new databases. They can be embedded into the current page or opened as a new, nested page. Inline databases can be converted into full page databases if needed.
2. Tagging (@)
Use @ symbol to mention team members for notifications.
3. Dividers (---)
Use hyphen as Divider command instead of forward slash.
times in a row
on a new line and the divider will appear.
4. Emojis (:)
Digite um dois pontos (:) e comece a digitar o nome do emoji que deseja adicionar, como no teclado do celular. Use as setas do teclado para selecionar o emoji e pressione Enter.
5. Bullet lists (-)
Enter after each item. If you want to create a numbered list, simply type a number followed by a period and a space. This will automatically format a numbered list.
Enter .
6. Numbered lists (1.)
Similar to a bullet list, you can create a numbered list by typing a number followed by a period, then hitting the spacebar. The list will automatically indent and add a new number each time you press Enter.
Databases serve as the core of Notion, acting as collections of cards or "pages." The effectiveness of a database lies in its setup, although it's worth noting that pages can exist independently and do not necessarily need to be part of a database. Each card within a database opens up to a separate page that can be utilized for various purposes, including the creation of another database. However, for now, let's streamline the process and presume that the pages within your database will be initially vacant, devoid of text, but will contain multiple properties.
Database properties
Properties provide additional information for database pages. They aid in organization, grouping pages, project tracking, and filtering views. Here are four useful properties and their purposes.
1. Multiselect: tag your database page topics

I use the multiselect option for topic-tagging. One of my favorite things about this is that

you can customize the tag colors and add emojis. But if you prefer the clean look, you can

just use a single color (like grey) for all of your tags.

Tags can be anything you’d like, but they’re most useful when

one tag can apply to multiple
in your database.
Add Skyrim and Metroid Dread to the "video games" database with tags like open world, combat, magic for Skyrim, and 2D, combat, aliens for Metroid Dread. Apply a combat filter to display both games.
2. Select: group your pages into categories
The select property is used for single-tag selection in a property. It is helpful for organizing multiple categories or groups. For example, I used it to categorize ADHD modules in a content database for my teammates. Modify property settings in the top right corner of the table.
setting to “group by module category”.
Modules are grouped by category and can be minimized for a less overwhelming view.
3. Date: track appointments, meetings, and deadlines
Useful property for grad students, freelancers, and those with busy schedules. Includes end date, time, and format options.
Adding end dates:
Useful for tracking multiple projects simultaneously, especially for freelancers managing assignments with deadlines.
Formatting dates:
Explore "edit property" or "date format and timezone" after getting comfortable with this feature. My preferred format is "relative," showing "next Tuesday" instead of "11/30/2022".
4. Checkbox: keep track of tasks
Use "Concluded?" property for Meetings database. Click checkbox after meeting is over. Set up additional views to toggle between "concluded meetings" and "upcoming meetings".
Other properties that are available include:

Relational (this is an advanced property I use to connect multiple databases, but I

won’t detail it here!)

Text (general notes or descriptions)
Created by (person that added page)
Time created
Number (numerical entries that can be added together)

Formula (to be honest, I never use this, but I’m sure it’s useful for someone


Phone number
Files and media
Database views
Each database can have multiple views in various formats. There is no limit to the number of views per database. The same type of view can be used multiple times with different filters or sorts. However, certain formats may not be compatible with certain databases, such as using a calendar view for a database without dates. Let's explore the available views!
1. Table view
My favorite Notion view allows you to customize the properties you see. No required properties needed. Can be used for anything.
2. List view
Basic view, useful for databases with few properties. No required properties, recommended for alphabetized lists.
3. Calendar view
Useful for tracking events with dates. For example, I have a calendar view for my blog's database that displays past and upcoming article publications. Required: Date. Recommended: Tracking events, appointments, deadlines, etc.
4. [Kanban] Board view
Create a Trello board with cards in columns based on tags like Not started, In progress, and Completed. Customize the order and include a group for untagged cards.

❗ Required Property: Ensure that you have a select property (or status property) in your database for the board to effectively sort the pages.

5. Gallery view
Attention all Pinterest and vision board enthusiasts! I have implemented a stunning new layout on my writer profiles page for freelancers, allowing you to view all their beautiful faces in one convenient location. Furthermore, you can click on each card to access more detailed information. This feature is perfect for showcasing images or even displaying written content within the page card. It is highly recommended for use in creating inspiration or vision boards, sharing recipes, or organizing directories.
6. Timeline view

This view heavily relies on dates and is likely the least useful, but only because it's designed for a very specific purpose!

❗ Required properties: Start date and end date

More Notion tips for beginners.
Everything = block
Move text and elements easily by dragging blocks with 6 dots on the left side. No need to cut and paste multiple times. For mobile, hold down to move.
You have the option to transform it into a different type of block, such as a header or a new page, or you can personalize it to your liking. Make sure to check out tip #2 for more details!
2. Get creative!
Toggle lists and toggle headers

If you’re adding a lot of information or pages to a single page, consider using a toggle list or

header. It makes it easier to skim for relevant information. Plus, it looks cleaner and it's

4. Start with a blank page and work your way out
No need for perfection initially! Many great databases began as messy bullet lists on Notion.
Use bullet lists to outline
I suggest starting with a bulleted list as a brainstorming tool. Jot down anything that comes to mind, and then organize your points. For instance, if you're creating a notion page for a research paper on ADHD, consider including things like due dates, citations, sources, and specific information and notes. Now, when it comes to "specific information and notes," imagine sub-bullets for topics like "types of ADHD," and then further break it down with sub-sub bullets for "inattentive," "hyperactive-impulsive," and "combined." When you feel like your list is getting overwhelming, consider transforming those items into separate databases, pages, headers, or toggle lists.
That’s all, folks! (for now)
In order to avoid adding to the overwhelm of those who are already feeling overwhelmed, I will conclude here and plan to explore this topic further in a follow-up article. If you have specific questions about using Notion, please feel free to email me at Once I have collected enough questions on various topics or for clarifications, you can anticipate another comprehensive Notion guide for intermediate users!
Amy Lewis
Doing reviews on popular software. I play games at night.