Using Notion to Manage Your Life - Part 4 of 12 - The Tasks Database

Introduction

We were originally going to review the Notion Web Clipper this week.  However, I felt it was better to jump right into the Tasks Database and get a fully functional dashboard working instead.  We will revisit the Notion Web Clipper towards the end of the series.

What are Tasks?

All information can be broken into two categories; notes and tasks. Notes, as previously discussed, are non-actionable while tasks are actionable.

This week we are going to create the Tasks Database and see how we can incorporate it throughout our dashboard and will include various views of outstanding tasks so we know what needs to be accomplished on any specific day and a view to manage the current day's tasks.

Topics in Today's Lesson

  1. Creating the Tasks Database
  2. How to Use the Tasks Database
  3. What Needs to be Done Today?
  4. Tasks Quick Entry
  5. "Do Date" Calendar
  6. Update the Note Page Templates to Display Tasks

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 4: Creating the Tasks Database

Step 1: Underneath the "Notes" toggle, create a new toggle named "Tasks".  Give it a background color and change the font color to your liking.

Step 2: Create the Tasks Table by typing "/table" and selecting "Table - Inline".

Step 3: It is time to create the fields for this table.  Right click the "Name" field and rename it to "Tasks".

Step 4: Delete the "Tags" Field and add the following fields.  If you are not familiar with how to add fields to a table, see Lesson 2 of the series where we create the Notes Table.  The field names are listed below with the property type in parentheses.

  • Status (Select)
  • Type (Select)
  • Do Date (Date) *I will explain this after we finish setting up the table
  • Priority (Select)
  • Done (Checkbox)
  • Note (Text)
  • Due Date (Date)
  • Waiting On (Text)

Step 5: This is the step I've been waiting a month to share. We are going to add another field that "links" to our Notes Table.  This allows us to make relationships between notes and tasks.  For example, you may have action items (tasks) that result from a meeting.  Those action items would be captured in your Meeting Minutes Note.  You can then create tasks and link them to that Meeting Note so you know that the task is a direct output from the meeting. (I will show you how to do this.)

Add a new field to the table and name it "Notes DB".  For the property type, scroll down and select "Relation".

Step 6: On the next screen, select the Notes Database and click "Create relation".

Step 7: We now have all our fields created for the table.  Finally, we will set the selection items for our Status, Type and Priority fields.  Again, you can assign them any color you would like and feel free to customize the selections to your needs.  Here are the ones we will use to get started.

Status

  • Active
  • Inactive

Type

  • Personal
  • Work
  • School

Priority

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

That is it!  We know have our Tasks Database ready for use!  Next, we will review how to use this table throughout the day.

Do Dates

Do dates differ from due dates. A task may have a hard deadline (the due date), but we work on that task prior to the deadline. This is where the “DO” date comes into play. The “Do Date” is that date you are going to perform the task.

For example, you may have a project to complete on a certain date, or a school paper that is due based on a deadline. However, the smaller tasks that need to be accomplished to have the project or paper delivered on time will have different “do” dates.

This idea to use "do" dates came from August Bradley, who has an amazing YouTube channel I encourage everyone to check out.

Lesson 4: How to use the Tasks Database

Step 1: Delete any entries that were created during the previous exercise.

Step 2: Click the blue, "New" button in the upper right of the table.

Step 3: Give the task a title, such as "Call Mom Regarding Holiday Plans" and assign it a Do Date, the date which you want to call mom (that date could be today).

Optionally, you can also set a reminder for Notion to alert you at a specific time to complete the task.

Step 4: Finally, complete the Priority, Status and Type, as well as any quick note you may want to include.

When giving a task priority, think in terms of knowing what is on my plate today (we will get to that below), where does this fall.  Or if selecting a date in the future, what priority do you think it would have?  Don't worry about this too much.  When we look at a given day, we can reassign the priority.

That is it!  You can now create views and filters and sort your data as you would like to see it.  Whenever you remember anything you need to (or want to) get done, add it to your tasks database and assign it a Do Date.

Next, we will create a dedicated area of our dashboard to see what we need to "do" today.

Lesson 4: What Needs to be Done Today?

Now, we will collapse the "Tasks" toggle and create a new toggle to show all task items with a Do Date of today.

Step 1: Close the task toggle and create a new toggle underneath it labeled "Today".  I'm going to make the test orange, but you can format it any way you would like.

Step 2: Move the "Today" toggle above the "Notes" toggle by selecting the six dots to the left of the toggle and dragging it above the "Notes" toggle.

Step 3: Open the "Today" toggle and within it, type "/create linked" and select "Create Linked Database".

Step 4: Create a filter to only show items where the "Do Date" is today and where Done is not checked off.

Step 5: I like to arrange my view of the table so the Type and Priority are at the beginning of the table.  This is optional based on your preferences, but it will make the sorting during the next step more visible.

Step 6: Sort the table by "Type" and "Priority".

And we are done!  You now have a simple view to display all the tasks you need to complete today.  From this display, you can change the priority, mark items as done, or push the Do Date back.

You can also replicate this to create a "Tomorrow" report to review the things you need to accomplish the next day.  This is good to review at the end of every day.  At this time, you can re-prioritize the tasks as needed.

In addition, you can create a "Waiting On" view.  I assign Do Date for when I expect the person the task is assigned to respond to me.  I then use the "Waiting On" view to keep track of who is past due on providing me information.

If you would like to see detailed steps on how to create this, let me know.

Lesson 4: Tasks Quick Entry

Similar to the Notes Quick Entry, we will add a Task Quick Entry under the tasks heading in the top middle of our dashboard.

Step 1: Repeat the steps above to create another linked database under the Tasks heading.

Step 2: Create a gallery view.

Step 3: We do not want to display any results in this view.  To accomplish this, we can filter on the Notes filed for "zzz".

We now have quick entry for both Notes and Tasks!

Lesson 4: "Do Date" Calendar

Some people may find it helpful to have a calendar view of their tasks.  Next, we will add this view to our dashboard.

Step 1: At the end of the dashboard, under the "Tasks" toggle, create a Heading 2 named "Do Date Calendar".

Step 2: Under that, create another link to the Tasks Database (Create Linked Database).

Step 3: Click "Add a View" and select the Calendar View.  Name it "Do Date Calendar".

We now have a monthly calendar view for all of our tasks!

Lesson 4: Update Note Page Templates to Display Tasks

Remember the Meeting Minutes Page Template from last week?  We can update the template to show all tasks related to the Note.  Let's dive in!

Step 1: Expand the "Notes" toggle and click the blue arrow next to "New".  Find the "New Meeting Minutes Template" and select the three dots to the right to edit the template.

Step 2: Scroll down and expand the "Tasks" toggle.  In it, create a linked database to the Tasks database.

Step 3: We can apply a dynamic filter so we only see the tasks associated to the current note we are viewing.  To do so, create a filter and under "Notes DB", select the "New Meeting Minutes Template".  This will dynamically update to whatever you name the Note when you use this template.

Step 4: Close the Tasks toggle and the template is updated.  Here is what it would look like with actual data.

End of Lesson 4: Creating and Using the Notes Database

We now have a fully functioning dashboard to manage all the information we might ingest. Our Notes Database stores all non-actionable information and our Tasks Database stores all our actionable information. This is the heart of our Life Management System.

As we continue to progress through this series, we will build upon this foundation to better organize the information stored in these databases.

Next week we will create a Projects Database and I will show you how you can associate your Notes and Tasks to a Project. We will also go over a high level explanation of Project Management and how we can develop our dashboard to manage our personal, work, and school projects.

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 4 - 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.