The Most Powerful Productivity App I Use – Notion


– So, by far, the app that
I get the most requests from you guys to cover is Notion. And I would say that that’s
for a pretty good reason since Notion can do a heck of a lot. So they built Notion as
an all-in-one workspace and I would say that that is
a pretty accurate description since Notion really defies
traditional categorization. That’s because you can do
so much with this tool. It’s incredibly flexible. You can use it as a note-taker, it has this beautiful
hybrid markdown system, you can also link within
documents to other documents, you can create databases,
you can create checklists, people built habit trackers
and calendars and to-do lists, all kinds of stuff in Notion. And because of that,
I found it challenging to really hone in on
what I wanted to cover for my first Notion video because we could have
gone into the nitty gritty and I could have showed you
how to start creating pages, but a lot of other people have done videos that sort of do that, and I will link to a couple
in the description down below if you’re curious. So what I wanna do in this video instead is show you how I use Notion. And in particular, I’m gonna show you my YouTube video project tracker. This is a template and database that I’ve been building over the past year which has become really
an indispensable tool in my production process. Before I built this, we
were using a hodgepodge of different apps to make sure that everything that needed
to be done for a video was actually done, and it
was pretty inefficient. But now that we have this
project planner and tracker, we are able to do everything in one place and everyone has access to the
information that they need, and there are also a
lot of efficiency gains because of the different
features that Notion offers us. So I’m gonna guide you through how I’ve built this and how it works, and in the process, you’re gonna learn about three of the more advanced and I think more useful features of Notion which are the database feature. And in Notion, databases, by default look like Excel Spreadsheets but they’re much more flexible, you can actually look at
them in different views such as Kanban view and calendar view. We’re also gonna talk about
the templating feature which is my favorite feature in Notion, and combined with the database feature, allows Notion to do things
that no other app can do, at least that I have come across, and finally, we’re gonna talk
about a couple of features that allow databases to
be connected to each other which are called relations and roll-ups. So let’s get into the project tracker and I’ll show you how it works. Okay, so here we are looking
at my video project tracker. And at first glance, this looks kind of like
an Excel spreadsheet. We have columns with different types of information in there, but the cool thing about Notion is that a database here
really is a database. It isn’t just a
spreadsheet of information, though you can do some
spreadsheet-y things, but every single row here
is actually its own page and within these pages, you can put whatever you want
including other databases. So this can get really, really powerful. I’m gonna show you how
these pages within databases and how the templates you can create can be really, really
powerful in combination. So first, I’ll just give you an overview of how this works itself. We have the title of the video. So whenever I come about
the video and I’m like, yes, we are going to do this
video, it is on the schedule, I will add it to this database here. Now, I could go down here
and just add a new video. So How to Tame Llamas. But if I do that, I’m just
going to have a blank page. And if I wanted a blank page, that would be great, but I don’t. I want all this really cool information. So instead, what I like
to do is go up to here and we can choose templates, and we can actually build
templates that we can then add as a new row to our database. So I’ve already created project template, I’ll show you how this looks on the inside a little bit later but let’s
just go ahead and create it, and we’ll go with the same
exact video: How to Tame Llamas. And now, we have a bunch of
interesting stuff in here that I’m gonna get to in a second. But we also have it here. I’ve also defined the template to automatically give it
a video number of 999, so because of the sort of
this view on the database which is going by
descending and video number, it’s going to be immediately at the top and that’s very useful since it’s most likely going to be the next video that’s coming out or at least something that
is coming out in the future unlike everything else here. From there, I can change all my values. So let’s just say this is video 177. This isn’t actually
coming out in the channel. I’m sorry if you wanted
to see me tame llamas. I don’t have access to a llama farm, so get me access to a llama
farm and maybe we can talk. We can also come in here
and add other things. So status is very interesting. The great thing about Notion databases is that you’re not limited to
just this one type of view. You can have this Excel
spreadsheet type view, or you can have what’s
called a Kanban view. This is very much like Trello
where you can move cards between different stages of a project and this can help you really
track the project’s status and see where it is and how
close it is to completion. Or let’s say you’re running
an editorial calendar, you wanna see when all of
your videos are coming out. You can have a calendar view. And the great thing about these views is that they all operate independently in the properties that
you can show and not show, and the filters and sorts
that you can define. So here on All Videos, we have a filter where if
the status is not started, I’m not showing it, and we have a sort where
video number is descending. But if we go over to status view, we can actually do different things, where our filter is things that I have not checked the publish box on and then we also have the status filter, and we can also group by status, we can show and hide certain properties. So let’s say I wanna see
the sponsor on status view, I can do that and it’s going
to show up here and here. But on status view, I’m
just interested in seeing what projects are on the writing stage, what projects are in the
A-roll editing stage. The sponsor is not really relevant to that so I can go ahead and disable it there. Same with calendar, I’m only interested in seeing when are these videos
scheduled to come out. But on all videos, we can also go through and define things, so let’s just say this video
is coming out October 4th, the sponsor, I’m like, I
have a llama-related sponsor so we will just go with
Fender, that would be cool, and then we can set an editor. So usually, Tony edits my videos. He will be editing this one so I’m setting him as
the editor here as well. And then we have some other
fields that I have created. Now note, you can create
any field you want here. So if I wanted to, I
can add an extra field. It could be a text, it could be a number, it could be a select, multi-select person for assigning people, we could actually upload
pictures or attach files, add check boxes, all
kinds of really cool stuff including these relations and roll-ups that I’ll tell you about
a little bit later. But for now, I have every
single field that I want here. And later on, when the
video is actually published, we’ll have the time to
check the publish box, the monetization box, URL
box, all those things. But again, this is just the overview here and this allows us to track
the status of projects to go back and refer to projects. And the really nice thing is you can create filters
and sorts on-the-fly. So let’s just say for
a second that I’ve got a video sponsored by
CuriosityStream coming up. In fact, this video is
sponsored by CuriosityStream. I’ll have that at the end. But I want to see how I edited previous
CuriosityStream videos or I need to know which
folder on my computer might have some special footage
I took for that sponsor. Well, I can go and I can
create a filter and I can say, and the sponsor contains CuriosityStream. And boom, I’ve created a filter that only shows in these videos that are sponsored by CuriosityStream. I could do videos that were
published only in 2019, videos that are only
completed or only filming, videos that only I edited. This can be really, really useful for going back and referring to things. And when I talked about my
file organization video, I mentioned that all of my videos are organized by their numbers. So we have like 164-3,
“Bad Productivity Tips”. That is somewhere in my computer so if I need to remember, all right, I took some footage
of a llama or something and I need to remember
which folder it’s in, okay, I remember I did it in that “3 Bad Productivity Tips” video, I can refer to Notion here and see, oh, that was video 164. It’s very easy for me to go and find that folder on my computer. So let’s delete this filter here. And let’s talk about
the actual template here or what’s inside. And we’re gonna use the “How to Beat the
Afternoon Slump” video which was really recently published because it has basically
everything I wanna show you here. So the first thing to note is, number one, you can open these as pages. They don’t have to just be modals. I also tend to favorite the projects that I’m currently working on so they show up here in my Favorites bar. This one is done so I’m
going to unfavorite it. And the first thing you’re gonna see here, because this is a page that
exists within a database, you’re gonna see all the properties that are in the database
in the regular view which is kinda nice
because if you want to, you can set different things
here, but you don’t have to. And then down here, this is an area that is
completely up to you. So this is the project template that I have been working on and honing and perfecting over the past year, and we have a lot of
different information here. The most prominent thing is probably the second database here but we’re gonna get into that in a second ’cause it’s pretty complicated. We also have a toggle
switch which is pretty cool. So I can put title ideas in here, often bold the one that
I think is the best. We can put keywords in here, we can put sponsor
information if we needed to, and this is something I really like. So I am defining templates
here and I’m generating them every single time I’m making a new video. So every single time I
have a new video project, I get new checklists. And for publishing, we
have all these checklists. So this just reminds me to do
all the little things involved with uploading and publishing a video that I might forget to do if I was just trying
to do them from memory, so things like adding resource
links to the description, setting the video’s recording date, adding the caption file when I order it, post-publishing things like
sharing it to Instagram or answering some initial comments. I will always check these things off. It’s very, very useful. I also have, so a content area here. We have a page where we can
dump research and notes. I will mention that I don’t
use Notion as a note-taker. I tend to write my videos in Evernote. When Martin writes videos for me, he will write them in Google Drive. So we don’t usually have research and notes sitting in Notion, but I do like having this in the template just in case I’m in Notion and I just need to
throw something in there really, really quickly and I don’t want to
gunk up the script area. So the script area is very important. Even though I write videos in Evernote and Martin writes them in Google Drive, we want them in Notion because
the video project tracker should be the one resource
for editors to go to, for writers to go to. Anybody who’s working
on the video should know if there’s something about a video, whether it’s the sponsor
or whether it’s the script, it’s going to be here. So whoever wrote the script, we paste it into the Notion project. And then I actually have
a music stand with my iPad and I have Notion open
so while I’m filming, I will have the script
in Notion next to me. I don’t tend to use a teleprompter. I might start using that a
little bit more in the future but usually, I just will look
at the script on my iPad, memorize a line, say it to the camera, and then go on and on and on
until I’m done with the video. So that’s useful. I’ve got some links to
some useful resources. So I use this CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to help me brainstorm lots
of interesting titles. Thumbs Up is a great tool for making sure that thumbnails look good at small sizes. But the real benefit to
this project tracker here is this B-roll list. And again, this is an example of a database within a database and that’s incredibly helpful. And, of course, just like
with the other database, we can open this as a page. So this is the most advanced
part of the template and we’ve been able to do some
really cool stuff up here. So you can see, these are
just ideas that we create. So let me give you a bit of background on how we make videos. We will shoot the A-roll, which is the talking head portion, this portion that you’re seeing right now, beforehand for most videos. I sit in front of the camera, I talk, it might be half an hour of footage because I mess up lines a lot, and then my editor will cut it down into what we call a draft A-roll cut. So it may not be perfect
but it’s quite close to what is eventually
going to end up on YouTube in terms of the length and
the talking head parts. From there, we will upload
that to a tool called Frame.io which lets you add comments
at specific time stamps for your video. Now, a lot of people just
use this for feedback, like, hey, fix this, you
left a llama in the shot, we can’t have that there, but we use it for B-roll ideas. So Tony and I walk and sit down together, watch the video on Frame.io, and put like, all right,
let’s have a clock with three o’clock on it at the microwave. How about scrolling through
a to-do list on our computer? And we’ll get this time-stamped
list of B-roll ideas. From there, Frame.io actually
lets you export these as what’s called a comma-separated
values file or CSV file, and the cool thing is in Notion, you can go up here and
you can merge with a CSV. So you can merge an
existing database with a CSV and that’s very, very useful. So it does exactly what we do, we will export the CSV file. I’ll actually put it into
Google Sheets initially so I can delete some of the
more superfluous columns that I don’t need. I’d just get the comment with
the idea and the timestamp, that’s all I want, and
then I will merge it here where I have some existing columns that are very, very useful. So this is what comes in, the B-roll description and the timestamp. We also have tags, we have
templates, we have gathers, and I’ll explain these really quick. So the big thing with creating videos is you wanna be as efficient as possible. And when you’re making B-roll, there’s different types of B-roll, right? There’s filmed B-roll, so we might put a camera on a tripod and film something maybe
outside or up in the office, we may do something on the
overhead setup over there, we might have to go into the
computer and record the screen, which I’m literally doing
right now on Notion, we might need to go get stock footage from story blocks or a different website, and these are all
different kinds of tasks. So when I bring in this chronologically-ordered
CSV file into Notion, I’m gonna have things that
maybe need to be filmed and then there’s gonna be
the next thing in the video that maybe needs to be a screen cast. If I gather the B-roll in that order, if I’m gonna go film something
and then I get done with that and then I go over to my computer and I record something on the screen and then I run back to my
camera and I film that, that’s terribly inefficient. Instead, I wanna know, all right, what’s every shot in the
video that needs to be filmed? Let me do all that first. Then, let me move on to
buying stock footage. Then, let me move on to
recording the screen. So when this comes in here, and actually, let me just
show you how this works ’cause I can literally do it, and this will also show you how the templating system works as well ’cause this is a completed video. So let’s just go back to
our YouTube project thing and let’s go to our “How
to Tame Llamas” video. And in here, we have nothing. It’s a blank slate, it’s ready for us to add tile
ideas, all that good stuff, but the B-roll list is completely empty. So let’s open that as a page and then let’s merge it with a CSV. And I’m just gonna go ahead
and merge it with the CSV from the afternoon slump video since I don’t have B-roll ideas for this. So we’re merging in, and here we go. So it’s good to note that
I have created this view with a pre-populated sort criteria which will sort by the timestamp column. Otherwise, it could be in random order. But otherwise, we don’t
have anything else in here other than our other columns. Now, I do wanna make a quick note here. When you do this CSV merge, you need to have at least
one pre-existing row in your database. Otherwise, if you don’t have that, it’s just an empty database,
you bring in the CSV, it is going to bring in its columns and delete all of the
other columns you have. So by leaving in, I
just have it as example, by leaving this in, it
will force the database to keep these other columns even though they don’t
exist in the CSV file. Once that’s done, I can
actually delete them and that’s totally fine. So here’s what I do. I go through all of my
ideas, and I say, all right, clock with three o’clock
on it, that’s film. Various shots of me at the desk
feeling tired, that’s film. And we would go through here and we would do that for
every single B-roll item. So background, videoblocks.com, I know that’s stock footage. So cool, stock footage, film
these websites on an iPad Pro, that’s gonna be an overhead
shot on the overhead setup, and for this particular video, if we go back to the actual project, we filmed in many different locations. So even categorizing with
just film was not enough because we had some that
was gonna be done outside, we had some that needed
to be done in the kitchen. So we actually, if we go to gather, ’cause like I said, your views can have their own properties, we added a location property. So we had upstairs, office,
kitchen, outside, downstairs, and that was really
helpful again for batching. So back to our “How to
Tame Llamas” example here, I’m tagging things, I can set gatherers. Usually, I only set myself as a gatherer and this is to let my editor Tony know that he cannot gather a
specific piece of B-roll, I have to do it myself, and then we also have some
check boxes over here. So this is just for status. We can go through and check, this is gathered, this is gathered, this is gathered, we’re good
to go, it’s in the video. So when Tony’s editing, he will just go line by line checking things off until it’s done. We also have this premiere checkbox. So we actually edit our videos in a combination of Premiere Pro, which is for actually editing
video and After Effects which is for doing all the
animations and cool quote things that you see coming up
in many of our videos, or like when little text box
comes up from the bottom, we do that in After Effects. But again, we don’t wanna
be switching back and forth between different programs. We want to get everything done
in one program if possible and then move on to the next stage. So we have a Premiere checkbox. So we can say this needs
to be done in Premiere, maybe this doesn’t, and
that will help later on. Now, again, you can create multiple different database views in Notion. So this one is chronological,
it is ordered chronologically. When it’s time to gather B-roll, we go over to Gather View and this will order things
by the tags we gave them. So it’s very, very easy to just go through
everything we need to film, get that done, go over to overhead, get
that done, and so on. Some other ones you can
see in here, we have fixes. So sometimes, I’ll be watching through the Frame.io cut that Tony did and I’ll see something
that needs to be fixed and all I do there is
I’ll tell him what to do and then I’ll add hashtag
fix in the comment. And then here, I have a filter that says anything in
the B-roll description that contains hashtag
fix will show up here. That way, Tony can efficiently go through, fix any issues we have, and then get on to B-roll gathering. And then we can go into Premiere. So anything that had
that Premiere checkbox is going to show up here. Anything that did not
will not show up here, so he can efficiently do everything that needs to be done in
Premiere all in one chunk and then move on to After Effects which is just filtered by this does not have Premiere checked. It’s incredibly efficient. So using this, you can get
everything he needs to get done and into the video as
efficiently as possible. So it’s really, really helpful, and using this entire template has been an absolute
boost to our productivity in making videos. So I’ve showed you the combination of databases
here, of templates. If you wanna make your own template, you can go to Templates, you can create a new template. So if you had a different
kinda video you wanted to make, one that maybe is a little simpler, you could have a simpler template, I am fine with my one template. But it’s very easy to create templates and then add them into databases. So let’s talk about the last thing here which is relations and roll-ups. In the past, when I had
sponsors on my videos, which is pretty much always, I would just have a tag that
said which sponsor it was. So CuriosityStream, Brilliant,
it would just be a tag. And that was fine. It would tell me who
was sponsoring the video but if I wanted information, what URL do I need to say on screen, or what are the talking points? I would have to go to an
external system and refer to them and that wasn’t very efficient. So I learned that in Notion, you could do something called a relation where you create a second database and then you can relate
it to the first one. So I created a sponsor list. And this is a list of every
sponsor I’ve worked with. This is, again, a database, so I can go in here
and I can literally see all of the details for the sponsor. And one of the nice things about Brilliant is they actually use Notion, so they have their most up-to-date
talking points in Notion which is pretty nice. But I can grab YouTube description copy for any new video, I
can paste it in there, I got the URL down here. That’s really, really nice. But the big thing is here, I can see how many spots I’ve
done for every single sponsor and the reason that I can do that and the reason that you
see the sponsor listed here in the video project tracker is that these two databases are linked through what’s called a relation. So let me show you how
you can actually make one. You just create a new column, and you’re gonna set this column’s type to advanced and relation. Then, you will select a
database to work with. So we’re gonna go with projects
and create the relation. And then, we can actually select the video for each sponsor, or, in the other case, we
can go back over to here and now we have a new
column that has been added which is our new relation
to that other database. So if I have this video here, I can easily add a sponsor onto it. Again, we said it was Fender. Let’s just say we have a second sponsor and it’s SimpleContacts. If we go back over here
to our sponsor list and we look at SimpleContacts,
we have this listed. Now, I don’t wanna see the
individual videos on this view. I wanna see the number of spots I’ve done and I wanna be able to click
in and get the details. So I can go to Properties here and I can just hide
that and I’m good to go. So, again, every single view you have, you can go in here and you
can customize your properties. And then a roll-up is
kind of a simple thing. So instead of creating a
relation between two databases, you are instead using a
relation that already exists to do something interesting. So this roll-up right here is just looking at the videos table. The property doesn’t matter because all we’re doing
is counting any time that one of these sponsors is mentioned, and that allows us to get the number of video spots we’ve done, number of podcast spots we’ve done, ’cause we also have a podcast table. It’s very similar. And then this is just a formula that is adding these two columns together to see how many spots I’ve
done for each sponsor. Now, one thing that I forgot to mention before I moved on to
relations and roll-ups is that it’s a good idea to go and look at your templates often to see if they need to be updated. So let’s actually do that right now because I think there is something in this template that I have to update. So whenever you wanna update it, you can edit your template. We’ll open it as a page. It tells you you’re editing
a template in Projects. You’re not editing just
a regular page in here, and I can go in here and
change whatever I want. So one thing I know needs to be changed is here on the publishing checklist, we need to remove mark
video as completed in Asana because I don’t use Asana
anymore, I just use Notion. So let’s take that out there. And now, every single time I
create a new video project, I’m not gonna have that
annoying Asana checkbox, I’m just gonna have everything I need. And if I needed to add
something to the process, I would do the exact same
thing, add it to my template. Now, I will admit that
the system I was using before I started using
Notion was pretty workable. We were using a combination
of Google Docs and Todoist and we got videos done, but because I got curious about Notion, I started playing around with
it, I started building things, I ended up with a system that
works a heck of a lot better and that really reflects
one of my core philosophies when it comes to tools and learning. I’m always looking for a
better way to do things because even if the way I’m doing something now seems to work, there’s probably some kind of
improvement that I could make that would bring an unforeseen benefit. And the exact same thing
goes for just reading widely and constantly exposing
myself to new ideas and trying to learn new
things on a daily basis. When you do this, you tend
to combine ideas in your head and find solutions that you would not have otherwise came across. And one great place to
constantly push the boundaries of your knowledge and expose
yourself to new topics while also having fun and really enjoying what you’re
watching is CuriosityStream. They have thousands of
high-quality documentaries that you can stream to
basically any device you want, be it your Roku device, your iPad, your iPhone, your Android, your TV, your computer, like right here, I could watch a documentary on
Stephen Hawking for example, and they have long been one of the best deals in
online streaming as well. Not only do they have a library of some of the best educational
content you’re gonna find, it’s also only 20 bucks a year. But now, CuriosityStream is actually a better deal than it’s ever been before because when you sign up for a yearly subscription
at CuriosityStream by going to CuriosityStream.com/Thomas, you’re also gonna get access to a new streaming platform
called Nebula for free. And I was actually involved
in the building of Nebula and you’re gonna find all of
my content over there as well. And one of the biggest benefits of Nebula is that you get completely pre-roll advertising-free content, so no ads before you get to
watch the content whatsoever, and you’re gonna find a ton of your favorite content creators there. From Wendover Productions,
to Real Engineering, to PolyMatter, CGP Grey, Lindsay Ellis, and of course, me, and also my
friend Devin from LegalEagle. I do wanna give him a shout-out as well. But the really big thing about Nebula is we are doing exclusive series there that probably aren’t going
to work as well on YouTube, and that’s kind of the point of Nebula. It’s a place for educational creators to really push the boundaries of the content they’re creating and to make things that might not work given YouTube’s algorithm. So huge thanks to CuriosityStream for not only sponsoring this episode but also helping to make
Nebula a possibility. So if you really wanna
support this channel and you wanna support
educational content creation, you wanna support them, definitely give CuriosityStream a try. Beyond that, hopefully
you enjoyed this video. I know it was kind of a different video and I got into some more advanced topics, but a lot of you guys have
been asking me about Notion. Definitely ask me more
questions about Notion in the comments down below. I would like to do more
videos on it in the future, and I wanna know what you
are interested to see, but I just wanted to kinda lead with my favorite thing that
I’ve developed in Notion and the thing that really helps
me and my workflow the most. If you enjoyed this video, a like is always appreciated, and you can subscribe right there if you wanna get new
videos when they come out, or click right there to
get a free copy of my book on how to earn better grades. Last but not least, you can
click right over here or here, and they’re probably gonna
cover my face this time, I don’t really know
where I am on the camera. But there are gonna be
more videos on this channel and you should click them or smash your face into your
phone screen with your nose, that also works, to watch them. Anyway, thanks for watching and I’ll see you in the next one.

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