I texted a good friend of mine from my early University years to send her the article, as I knew she would get a kick out of it.
Because, my current organizational practices look nothing like they did 15 years ago.
She responded with:
“Next level. This is seriously super organized. Not to insult past habits, because you’ve always had it together, but I think this is the most organized I’ve ever seen you!”
Now, she’s certainly being quite generous here. I was a complete calamity in my early adulthood.
I cringe when I think about my first university roommate, and the horror she must have experienced in witnessing the chaos that was my half of our shared dorm room.
This is followed by the embarrassment I feel when I think about my 4 roommates in our shared house in Toronto. I remember one of my roommates asking me “how long that bag is going to stay there?” referring to a bag of junk that sat outside my bedroom door for weeks that I had been meaning to take to the thrift store…
I was a disaster. My desk was a junk pile. I chronically over-booked myself.
There was no order in my life. No stability. No systems. No processes. No boundaries.
Why am I telling you this?
Because while that wonderful Superorganizers post tells the story of Marie TODAY… I wasn’t born with a brain that is naturally “organized.” I’m not a different breed, and I don’t have superhuman abilities.
I am not a naturally methodical, linear, and organized person. I work intuitively and have very “go with the flow” tendencies. I have learned to impose structure to trick myself into being effective.
My productivity was learned out of necessity.
I laughed with my old roommates over brunch in Toronto. “Did you EVER imagine anyone would be paying me to help them get organized? Ha ha ha!”
And we ALL LAUGHED.
The Superorganizers article had folks feeling everything from awe to anxiety.
But the truth is that people are peeking into a system that has evolved over almost 2 years; probably much longer (10+ years) if you factor in all the systems + routines that evolved (out of necessity) even before I started using Notion.
- It wasn’t until I started coding HTML, CSS, and working with CMS’s that I started to really grasp the value of components, systems, and re-usable processes.
- It wasn’t until the company I worked for started hiring that I understood the value of standardizing processes and systems, seeing how much time was wasted re-inventing the wheel, re-training, and trying to communicate best practices.
- It wasn’t until I found myself working ALL. THE. TIME. that I realized how much value there was in automating, optimizing, and designing things on purpose to minimize time on meaningless tasks, in order to optimize for fun, value, and impact.
- It wasn’t until studying permaculture that I saw all the ways invisible systems control our lives, and how much capacity we have to influence those systems that I saw the potential to design our lives to favour success .
I have undoubtedly leveled up old habits, processes, and systems.
But it was a PROCESS.
When I look back at where I have invested the most time, money, energy, and resources, it has been: productivity, effectiveness, time management, habits, workflow, systems, personal development, and leadership.
All because I felt so out of control in my own life.
Focusing on my schoolwork and graduating from high school a year early so I could leave a chaotic and dysfunctional home life was an absolute mental health necessity.
As an adult, this resulted in a drive to put as many things in place as I could that would give me any kind of life advantage: to break toxic family patterns, to succeed, to create the peace and ease that I so craved. Read all the books. Design all the systems. Lean all the things.
It’s not exactly a surprise that I have a somewhat… neurotic tendency to over-engineer the systems in my life, and it’s not exactly a coincidence that my life’s work has led me to designing your life with intention, creating more ease, and aligning work with your values. (“Your misery is your ministry” as they say…)
When someone says they wish they could be as organized as I am… they totally can. Productivity, systems, and organizational cabilities are skills that anyone can learn.
And no, I don’t think you need to over-engineer your workflow to succeed at this 🙂
The question is whether or not it’s a priority for you.
I am highly motivated by living out my fullest potential, and I want to make sure I’ve done everything in my power to create an environment (both physical and digital) that encourages and enables me to show up to the best of my abilities.
This is part of why I have been so excited to share my *Notion setup with folks, because it is the only tool that is robust and flexible enough to allow me to create a system that can evolve with me as I continue to build out better habits and routines over time.
Please don’t get discouraged if you feel like your systems “aren’t there yet,” or you feel like a mess.
My Notion setup today has been tweaked and iterated on in order to facilitate my habits (daily journal, weekly review to name a few). It evolved over a year and a half, and continues to evolve today.
Habits, routines, systems, and processes don’t get created overnight. You have to iterate over time as you learn what works for you.
And you can’t just adopt someone elses and expect them to work for you.
Systems are not meant to be static.
There are seasons and cycles, and as your life and business evolve, so must your systems. There is a huge amount of discomfort when you know that your systems aren’t quite there yet, but that’s part of the process: noticing where there’s friction, and where there’s ease.
My intention is to take what I’ve learned about designing systems to create more ease, and share my learnings with you.
Thanks for being with me in that journey.
What’s happening now
While I LOVE making videos about how to use Notion, (and I will continue to make them!) I’ve put a pause on the weekly pace so I can ruthlessly focus on Notion Mastery and my upcoming talk.
I started running a pilot of Notion Mastery in November. My focus is 100% on completing + evolving this course.
What’s happening next for the course:
Breaking up the content + templates into a Starter level and an advanced Mastery level (transform your basic setup into a more advanced setup with better workflow, systems, and templates).
I want to make getting started even easier (Notion 101), while also diving into more interesting/complex use cases like Coaching, Course/Curriculum planning, Team task management, CRM, etc (Mastery).
Templates alone do not create great work habits!
The Mastery level of the course will have more elements of workflow design and my own philosophies baked into the material.
My intention is to have the course ready in this new iteration for release in early March.
If you’ve been part of the pilot, many thanks to you for trusting me in this unfolding process!
The Big Ready
I’m super excited to bring my ideas and experience of permaculture, systems, and design to Mike Vardy’s The Big Ready event at the end of February in Vancouver.
I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts + ideas on how to design your work/life systems so you can transition from “everything is on fire how did I get here” to a work/life that feels designed on purpose.
Tickets are still available:
Feb 29th – http://thebigready.com/
I recently returned from hosting a Notion meetup in Toronto, with space generously provided by the Shopify offices. We had 70 registrations, and 7 folks who shared their Notion workspaces to demonstrate some of the wild and fascinating ways that people are using Notion to supercharge parts of their life and business.
There will be a Notion meetup (possibly workshop-style) in Vancouver in the spring, and possible future Canadian cities this summer 🙂
Notion Office Hours
(Almost) every Friday morning at 10am pst I host Notion’s weekly office hours. We try to include a mix of tours, demos, theory, and how-to.
Coming up soon… a whole series on FORMULAS with William Nutt of Notion.vip!
[*For full disclosure, I’m a Notion Partner, so when you sign up with my link, you also help support me and my content!]