Looking for perfect note taking setup

My journey

For years I was looking for a perfect note taking app. I’m dully aware that “perfect” in the world of software doesn’t exist when it comes to needs of one user. Perfect means “self-developed” and even in that case there is big chance that result will be far from perfect.

I have tried many different solutions Evernote, One Note, Simple Note, Obsidian, Google Apps, Obsidian and many more.

I have one main requirement. App has to be powerful enough so I can manage my life and projects in it. This means I need a way to track tasks, events, create documentation for projects and quick notes related to everyday life.

Evernote was close to “good enough” easy to understand hierarchy system, tags, sharing notes, but at the same time I had to use other apps for tasks and creating links between notes was… iffy to say the least.

My father always said many good things about One Note so I gave it a try on couple of occasions. To this day I’m not sure how efficiently use hierarchy system in this app. I’m not saying that it is bad, this is not how my brain thinks about things… and this was problem that I couldn’t overcome. It’s not easy to rewire your brain…

I’m a podcast addict. I have a podcast for every occasion… and via podcast I discovered another app. Even name of Simple Note shows what design philosophy is for this app. No hierarchy, simple list of notes, compatible with markdown. Minimalism at it’s best, for some time I was in love with the app. Months have passed and searching thru 100+ notes became a chore. Yes I had some sort of tag system set up but still looking took to long and we needed a break. Again it wasn’t fault of the app, it was me…

I have no idea how I encountered notion… Probably while watching yt. Anyway our first contact was far from perfect. Notion was new app, with small community but I felt it was going in right direction for me. Notion is all-in-one, kanban boards, tables, list, checklists… everything that you would ever need to organise work/life. Biggest perk of notion is the way how notes are handled. Every table, list, board etc. is a database and those views can be easily changed so with few clicks you can add extra list view that will show only particular part of the board in GTD look. I could see how powerful this way of dealing with notes is but I was clueless how to properly use that system. On the first try I ended up with set up similar to classic Evernote setup and this is how my first adventure with notion ended.

I never had a chance to test Obsidian for longer period of time but it’s worth honourable mention. Best way to describe Obsidian is offline wiki which offers markdown support, backlinks and interactive graphs of connection between apps. Like I said I didn’t have much time to experiment with Obsidian because…

Current setup

Youtube suggested to me this video

I was aware that notion was alive. More and more people were using it but I wasn’t aware that frameworks were established when it comes to using the app.

I watched that 3 hour behemoth and half way in I knew I had to try. It looked nearly perfect. Yes there are still some things that need extra legwork to create but with few hacks I could get my nearly perfect all-in-one app.

Set up showed in the video is more student oriented so I’m still making some changes but overall linked database set up works perfectly. How notes are organised is natural for me (area->project->task/note set up from Evernote). Using calendar view in main dashboard allowed me to stop using google calendar. I don’t need GTD app thanks to tasks list everywhere. It’s close to perfection.

Can’t lie I’m very happy that notion changed it’s pricing policy and I cna enjoy all the perks of the sytem for free until I’m sure that I have found THE place for my notes and projects.