Using Notion to Manage Your Life - Part 3 of 12 - Page Templates

What are Page Templates

Page Templates, not to be confused with the Notion Templates available at the end of each lesson, are pre-populated pages we can create to standardize the information we capture.  Having all meeting minutes in the same format, or class notes, makes the information easier to organize and review.

We can also speed up data entry when using page templates.  Fields within the tables can be pre-populated to ensure consistency.

We can add page templates to any table within Notion.  Today, we will review how to create a Meeting Minutes template and a Class Notes template for our Notes Database.

Notion Tutorials

  1. Getting Started with Notion
  2. Creating and Using the Notes Database
  3. Creating Templates for the Notes Database
  4. Creating and Using the Tasks Database
  5. Project Management Using Notion
  6. Goal Setting and Tracking
  7. Daily Tracking and Habits
  8. Weekly and Monthly Reviews
  9. Creating a Contacts Database or CRM
  10. Creating Book/Recipe/etc. Databases
  11. Using the Notion Web Clipper
  12. Bringing it Together with Global Tags

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Lesson 3: How to Create Templates for the Notes Database

Meeting Minutes

Step 1: On the dashboard, scroll down to the Notes Database.  To the right of the "New" button where we add new notes, there is a small arrow.  Click on that arrow and then click "New Template".

Step 2: To make the template easier to modify, click "Open as Page" in the upper left of the new window that appears.

Step 3: For additional ease of use, let's make the page take up the full width of our screen.  Click on the three dots on the upper right of the screen and click the "Full width" toggle on.

Step 4: A new window will appear where we can make the template.  The first step is to give it a name.  At the top, where it reads "Untitled", enter "New Meeting Minutes Template".

Step 5: We can have different fields pre-populate when this template is used.  For our Meeting Minutes template, select "Work" as the Type and "Meeting Minutes" as the Category.

Step 6: Scroll down to where it reads "Press Enter to continue with an empty page".  This is where we will create the outline of the data we want to capture.  First, let's add a place to enter the meeting participants.

We will use a markdown shortcut to make a heading.  Type "# Participants".  The single number sign will automatically change the block to Heading 1 (note you can use "##" for Heading 2 and "###" for Heading 3).

Step 7: To make the new heading stand out, let's assign it a color.  I'm going with Green.  Select the six dots to the left of the Participants Heading block and select "Color".  Now select the color you want to make the text.

Step 8: As the participants list can get large, we will make a toggle so we can show and hide the list as needed.  Again, we will use the markdown shortcut ">" to create the toggle and label it "Participant List".

Step 9: Open the toggle by clicking on the arrow to the left.  We will add a check box and add ourselves to the template (we need to be present if we are taking notes).  Once again, we will use a shortcut to create the check box.  Enter "[" and "]" (open bracket and close bracket followed by your name.

Step 10: Hit "Enter" to add a new blank checkbox.  If you have any other names you want to always appear in your Meeting Minutes, you can add them now.

Close the toggle by clicking the arrow to the left of "Participant List" and make the toggle background blue, following Step 7 above.

Step 11: Next we will make a section for the Meeting Agenda and some bullet points for notes.  Under the Participant List toggle, enter a new Heading 1 (using the # shortcut) and make the font color green.

Step 12: As this is a template for future meetings, we will add a couple "Topic" placeholders.  For these placeholders, we will make them a Heading 2 and give it a blue color.  Here we can use another shortcut.  Under Agenda, type "## Topic 1 /blue" and hit enter.  The "/blue" at the end will automatically change the color to blue when you hit enter.

Step 13: Under Topic 1, make a blank list to be populated for notes taken during the meeting.  To do this, click on the block under Topic 1 and enter "*" followed by a space.

Step 14: To make a second topic placeholder, we will duplicate the two blocks we just created.  Using your mouse, highlight Topic 1 and the empty bullet list.  Click on the six dots to the left of Topic 1 and select duplicate.  Now rename the second Topic 1 to Topic 2.  You can repeat this to make a third of fourth placeholder.

Step 15: Next we will add a new section for Action Items.  These will be placeholders for the meeting minutes.  If any tasks are assigned to us, we would also add them to the Tasks Database, which we will review in Lesson 5.

Type "# Action Items /green" and hit enter to add the new section.  Under it, put a checkbox placeholder by entering "[]" (open brackets and closed brackets).

Step 16:  Finally, we will add a section for Resources.  Using the skills you learned above, create a Green Heading 1 section named "Resources" and add three toggles with blue backgrounds: "Notes", "Tasks" and "Projects".

Step 17: We will come back to Tasks and Projects as we create each database in future lessons.  The idea is to have a link to each database right here on the template.  If you need to reference last week's notes, you just expand the Notes section and open entry you are referencing.  If you need to add a task or reference a past (or outstanding) task, you have all the information on this one page without the need to close your current note.

To add our Notes database, open the Notes toggle by clicking the arrow to the left.  In the block within the toggle, type "/link" and select "Created Linked Database".  From the list of databases, select the Notes database.

Step 18: Close the Notes toggle and we have our completed template.  Click the "Back" button in the upper left to go back to the "Windowed" view.  Then click anywhere on the dashboard to close the window.

Step 19: That is it! Now when you go back to the little arrow next to the New button to add a new note, you have the "New Meeting Minutes Template" that you can select.

Class Notes

It's been a while since I had to take notes for school.  Thinking back to when I did (I really wasn't much of a note taker) there was never any system or process behind it.  I would hear something I thought was important and write it down.

While researching current best techniques, the Cornell Note Taking method stood out for its simplicity and logic.  This method has also been proven to increase retention while studying.

The linked PDF goes into the details, but the idea is to have a section to write your notes and another section to write Questions and/or Keywords.  When reviewing your notes, focus is on this Recall/Cues section where you ask yourself the question and try to answer it.  You then reference the "record", or notes, section to review if you answered correctly.

Within Notion, we can take this a step further by using toggles to hide the actual notes when trying to recall the answers to the questions.

Step 1: Follow the steps above to create a new template.  Name it "New Class Notes Template" and select "Personal" as the Type and "Class Notes" as the Category. (Note that I accidently left out "New".  You should add it, however, so the template reads "New Class Notes Template" when you select the template).

Step 2: Using the skills learned so far, create the body of the page to look like the screenshot below.  Note that the Summary section is using a "Callout" block.

Step 3: When taking notes, there will be more than one topic covered and we don't want to have a distinct note for each topic.  We can use a "Template Button" to create copies of the Topic Toggle.  Unser the summary, create a new block, type "/template" and select "Template Button".

Step 4: Make sure the Template Button is not under the Topic 1 Toggle and close the toggle.

Step 5: Change the Button Name to "Add a new topic" and delete the "To-DO" checkbox under the "Template" section.  Drag the "Topic 1" toggle to the Template section of the Template Button.

Step 6: Click the blue close button.  The template now only has a button to add a new topic.

That is it!  The Class Notes Template is now complete.  Let's see how we would use it.

Using the Class Notes Template

Step 1: Back on our dashboard, in the Notes Database, select the New Class Notes Template

Step 2: Click "+ Add a new topic"

Step 3: Expand the Topic 1 Toggle

Step 4: To add another topic, click "+Add a new topic" again

End of Lesson 3: How to Create Templates for the Notes Database

As you continue to use notion to capture notes, you will get ideas for new templates that fit in your workflow.  Follow the same steps above to create your new templates.

Besides the Meeting Minutes Template we created together, I also use templates for various reoccurring meetings I run for various projects.  You can also create a shopping list template that pre-populates the staples you buy every week.

Next week we will dive into the Tasks Database.  I originally had "Using the Notion Web Clipper" set for next week.  However, that flows better after we create the Books Database toward the end of the series.

  1. Getting Started with Notion
  2. Creating and Using the Notes Database
  3. Creating Templates for the Notes Database
  4. Creating and Using the Tasks Database
  5. Project Management Using Notion
  6. Goal Setting and Tracking
  7. Daily Tracking and Habits
  8. Weekly and Monthly Reviews
  9. Creating a Contacts Database or CRM
  10. Creating Book/Recipe/etc. Databases
  11. Using the Notion Web Clipper
  12. Bringing it Together with Global Tags

If you would like me to add any templates to this lesson, or if you would like help in creating your own specialized template, you can contact me via Twitter, Facebook or email.

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Lesson 3 - Free Notion Template

Here is the link to the template we just created. To add this template to your workspace, click the "Duplicate" link in the upper right of the screen.