Using Notion to Manage Your Life - Part 5 of 12 - The Projects Database

Introduction

The heart of our Life Management System is informative. And we now know that information can either be actionable tasks or non-actionable notes. Projects give us a way or organizing this data.

What are Projects?

A project is simply a series of tasks to complete to reach a goal.

For example, a project may be hosting Thanksgiving dinner. All the tasks that go into having a great meal would be part of the project, researching new recipes, making a guest list, buying food and decorations, cooking the food, etc.

We can also assign notes to projects. Such as the final guest list, recipes to cook, the shopping list, or a journal of how the day went.

Projects give us a way to organize all this information in a meaningful way.

Topics in Today's Lesson

  1. Creating the Projects Database
  2. Creating a Project Template
  3. Using the Projects Database
  4. Creating a Kanban Board

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 5: Creating the Projects Database

Step 1: We will create a new page for the Projects Database in our "Shortcuts" section.  Under this section, type "@Projects Database" and select "New 'Projects Database' sub-page".

Step 2: Open the new page, select "Empty with icon", and pick on icon for the page.

Step 3: Make the page full width, create a header "Projects" and underneath it, type "/table" and select "Table - Inline".

Step 4: Name the table "Projects Database", rename the "Name" column to "Project Name", delete the "Tags" column, and create the following new columns (and property types):

  • Status (Select)
  • Priority (Select)
  • Type (Select)
  • Stage (Select)

Step 5: Set the selection items for the fields we just created.  Again, you can assign them any color you would like and feel free to customize the selections to your needs.

Status

  • Active
  • On Hold
  • Up Next
  • Future
  • Someday/Maybe
  • Completed

Priority

  • 1st Priority
  • 2nd Priority
  • 3rd Priority
  • 4th Priority
  • 5th Priority

Type

  • Personal
  • Work
  • School

Stage

  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Monitoring
  • Complete

Project Stages

Initiation - Start of the project.  Define the project at a high level.

  • This is the first stage of project management.  No actual work is being done on the project, but the project is being defined at a high level with requirements being documented.

Planning - Developing a roadmap.  Setting Goals.  Creating a Project Plan.

  • Next, while no work is being done on the project still, the planning for the project continues by setting the project goals and creating a project plan.

Execution - Deliverables are developed and completed.

  • This is the stage where the work is actually done.

Monitoring - Measuring project progression and performance.

  • Once the work is completed, a retrospective takes place to ensure goals were accomplished and the new process is working as expected.

Complete - Project done.

  • Project is complete.

Step 6: Create two new columns, "Notes" and "Tasks".  Both will be relational fields and will like to each corresponding database.

Step 7: Next we will create three rollup columns.  These columns will look at the "Done" column in the Tasks Database to give a count of the Completed, Outstanding, and Total Tasks assigned to the Project.

Create a new column named "Completed Tasks" and choose the "Rollup" property.  Next, click on the field under the new column and choose "Tasks" under Relation.  Then select "Done" as the property, and select "Checked" as Calculate.

Step 8: Repeat these steps to create an "Outstanding Tasks" column.  In the final "Calculate" selection, instead of selecting "Checked", select "Unchecked".  Follow the same steps to create a "Total Tasks" column, where "Count all" is selected.

Step 9: Finally, create a column named "Progress".  We can use the steps above and under "Calculate" select " Percent checked" to get a numeric percentage of the progress.  However, we will create a visual representation.

As the property type, select formula copy and paste this formula into the formula field.

format(slice("▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓", 0, floor(prop("Completed Tasks") / prop("Total Tasks") * 10)) + format(slice("░░░░░░░░░░", 0, ceil(10 - prop("Completed Tasks") / prop("Total Tasks") * 10)) + " " + format(round(prop("Completed Tasks") / prop("Total Tasks") * 100)) + (empty(prop("Completed Tasks")) ? "0%" : "%")))

We now have the database in place.  Delete the rows that were created during the table setup and next we will create a Project Page Template.

Lesson 5: Creating a Project Template

Step 1: As we've done in the Notes lesson, select the down arrow to the right of the "New" button and click "New template".

Step 2: Make the page "Full width" and name it "New Project Template" and "Open as page" in the upper right so we can format the page blocks in the remaining steps.

Step 3: We will create a template for a formal project, however, feel free to add what you would like to see here.  These toggles should all be closed by default so you only need to expand them as needed.  Use the screenshot below to create the template.  If you would like, you can skip to the next step to link to the associated Tasks and Notes.

Step 4: Collapse the toggles and create a new heading "Associated Tasks" with a link to the Tasks Database.

Step 5: Move the columns to the order and size you prefer.  Add sort criteria to group outstanding tasks at the top of the list, sorted by priority and Do Date.

Step 6: Create a filter to only show tasks associated with the project being viewed.

Step 7: Let's do the same to link to the Notes Database.  Create an "Associated Notes" header and link to the Notes database below it.  Move the columns to the order and size you prefer and add any sort criteria.  Then filter to show the notes associated to the project being viewed.

We now have our Projects Database and a Projects Template.  Next, we will review how to use the Projects Database.

Lesson 5: How to Use the Projects Database

Step 1: Create a new project, "Project XYZ" and select the Status as "Active", Type as "Work", Priority as "1st Priority" and Stage as "Execution".  Then click on Tasks and assign tasks to this project.

Notice how the Completed Tasks, Outstanding Tasks, Total Tasks and the Progress Bar were automatically updated.

Step 2: Go back to the Dashboard and use the Notes Quick Entry to add a new Note.

Step 3: From the Notes Page, the note can be assigned to a project using the new "Related to Projects" field.  Tasks can be assigned to a project in the same manner.

Step 4: When applying the Project Template above, you see that the Associated Tasks and Associated Notes filters automatically update.

Lesson 5: Creating a Kanban Board

Step 1: On the dashboard, under the "Do Date" Calendar, add a header named "Active Projects" and create a linked database to the Projects Database.

Step 2: Create a new view as a "Board" named "Kanban View".

Step 3: Click the three dots to the left of the "New" button and select "Group by" and select "Stage".  This will change the Kanban to show the project stages.

Step 4: Click the three dots again, and this time select "Properties".  We will hide most of the fields by deselecting them.

Step 5: Click on the three dots next to the "No Stage" column and select "Hide".  Do the same for "Complete".

Step 6: You can add projects from this screen and drag-and-drop projects to the proper stage.

End of Lesson 5: Creating and Using the Projects Database

We now have a way to organize our notes and tasks using projects. From our project page, we have a view or all the associated information.

Next week we will dive into how to track goals using Notion and how to assign our projects to our goals.

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 5 - 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.