Updated: Aug 19
Free templates included.
I used to be old school.
I’d print a monthly calendar to write all my expenses, spending, and events.
Then I upgraded. I started to use planners.
I looked for the ones with a monthly view to keep track of my expenses. And a weekly view to keep track of my work schedule, appointments, and events with family & friends.
But I started to use a digital planner after I moved to Taiwan. Why?
Because I couldn’t find planners I liked in the local stationery stores that were in English, lol. And I didn’t want to pay (expensive) shipping fees. So Amazon was out.
Then one day, YouTube recommended Michelle’s videos to me. And that’s how I found Notion.
Since then, I’ve used Notion to build my second brain.
Here’s my dashboard.
I divided it into three categories - Daily, Self-Improvement, and Dream Life.
We’ll dive into each.
1/ Daily & Weekly Tasks
On this page, I have a life progress bar. Its purpose is to remind me of the shortness of life. And more importantly, not to waste it.
Under the bar, I have a callout about marketing from Gary Vee. I want to keep this advice at the fore of my mind when I write.
Next, I have a list of my weekly content goals. (Press the button to duplicate it every week.)
This checklist serves two purposes.
One, it keeps me on track and accountable. I know exactly what I have to get done.
Two, I get a boost in feel-good hormones when I check off an item. This gives me the momentum to keep going.
I also have a view of my daily and weekly tasks.
This is my (current) writing system. I say current because it evolves as I experiment to see what works best. And how I can improve it.
As you can see:
I write my article outline on Monday.
I write the first draft on Tuesday.
I edit on Wednesday and Thursday.
I write social media posts on Friday.
I film and edit videos on Saturday.
I organize and plan on Sunday.
Also (most of the time) I only have three most important tasks every day. These are the ones that will move the needle forward for my one-person writing business.
I stick to three tasks because, one, I find I don’t get more than three done in a day anyway. Two, more than three tasks make me feel overwhelmed.
Last, I have an area for miscellaneous notes.
And at the bottom of the page, I have an Archive folder. This is so that at the end of the week, I can drag the completed toggle lists to the archive.
2/ Content Planner
At the top, I have a callout with another quote I keep at the fore of my mind when I write.
Underneath that and on the left-hand side, I have links to my profile for every platform I’m on.
On the right-hand side, I have a calendar view of my published content.
Then, I have a Notes section. This is where I organize my article ideas and LinkedIn and Twitter templates.
Here’s how my notetaking system works.
When I get an idea, I keep track of it on my iPhone Notes app. Then at the end of the night, I transfer the day’s ideas to my Article Ideas toggle list on Notion.
It’s now become a huge ideas bank I refer to every time I write an article.
As for the Twitter and LinkedIn Templates section, I save the templates that big creators share in these toggle lists here.
Next, I have a project tracker. This project tracker connects to the calendar view at the top of the page. So, whatever appears on the calendar view also appears in this table.
In a nutshell, this project tracker keeps track of everything I produce. And it organizes the information based on the project name, platform, link, status, and date completed.
I also recently added a Swipe Files table at the bottom. So now, whenever I chance across a great post, article, or video, I’m going to store it here. This way, I can study why the post/article/video performed well, and learn how to emulate it.
3/ Budget Tracker
Next up, I have my budget tracker. I press the button at the top to duplicate it each month.
On the left-hand side, I have a list of all my expenses for the month. It’s ordered alphabetically (by name) and how much the expense is. At the bottom of the table, you’ll see the sum of expenses for the month.
On the right-hand side is my monthly income.
I also recently added a monthly spending table. Now, whenever I buy something, I’ll jot down the category (take out, groceries, books, etc.), day, and amount. And I’ll see the sum at the end of the month.
This will help me get a better understanding of how much money I spend on a monthly basis (separate from my expenses).
Underneath, I have a Net table. For this table, I manually enter all the numbers to get the remaining amount.
Next, I have a calendar view of my expenses which I manually update every month.
The purpose of this calendar is so that I know exactly when and what payments are being deducted from my accounts.
Last, I have a simple IOU table. It keeps track of my debt (ie. student loans.) When I pay off an amount, I leave a comment with the date, how much I paid off, and how much remains.
To end the page, I have another Archive folder.
4/ Habit Tracker
I press this button to duplicate my habit tracker every week.
And these are my daily non-negotiables.
At the end of each day, I’ll tick the habits I completed.
Then on Sunday, I’ll look at my progress for each habit for the entire week. For example, if I wrote for 25 minutes for 4/7 (or 57%) of the week, I’d consider that a win.
To end the page, I have another Archive folder.
Sidenote: Lately, I’ve considered changing my habit tracker. From a weekly tracker to a monthly one.
Let me know your thoughts on this. If you’d like a monthly tracker, feel free to shoot me a message. And I’ll start working on that template.
That’s the end of the Daily category.
Onto the Self-Development column.
Here is a gallery view of all the courses I’ve taken and am currently working on.
When you click on the image and name, it’ll open another page with information about when I started (and finished) the course, the status, and a link to my notes.
Next, I have a table that stores and organizes my notes for content that I read, listened to, or watched.
I keep track of the title of the article, post, or video, the source, and the link to my notes, and add a relevant tag (ie. philosophy, writing, fitness, etc.)
6/ Reading List
This is a gallery view of the books I’ve read, am reading, or want to read.
For each book, I have a picture of the cover and the title written underneath. When you click on it, you’ll find details including the author, status, date finished, and a link to my notes.
To be 100% honest, I hardly use this page.
But I do have it in case I need to keep track of information that doesn’t belong in any of the other categories.
It’s a simple bulleted list for notes.
Now, onto the last category, Dream Life.
8/ Solopreneur Milestones
I started this page for three reasons.
One, I wanted to track my progress.
Two, I wanted to use the data as a reference when I wrote articles about my journey.
And three, I wanted to look back and feel proud of how far I’d gotten.
It’s a simple table.
I use it to keep track of the month and year and number of Medium followers. LinkedIn followers. Twitter followers. YouTube subscribers. And email subscribers.
I also have a column where I upload screenshots or write about any monumental moments that happened that month.
9/ Monthly Reflection
At the top, you’ll see a New Month button. Click on it to generate a toggle list with questions for the month.
I answer these five questions every month:
What were the memorable moments? (Highlights, or anything you want to remember.)
What went well this month?
What didn’t go well this month?
How can you improve next month?
What is your #1 goal for next month?
Why do I do this?
Because reflecting on your days, weeks, and months is important for growth.
You get to observe what’s working and what’s not.
You get to think about whether the things you’re doing are in alignment with the person you want to become or not.
If the things you’re doing are in alignment with your values and priorities, then great. If not, you need to change.
And ultimately, change starts with awareness and reflection.
Then, at the end of the page, I have another Archive folder.
Sidenote: Sometimes, I go to the Archive and re-read my monthly reflections. It feels nostalgic. And it serves as a reminder of how much I’ve changed and grown.
On this page, I keep track of all the important people in my life by jotting down the main things we talked about.
After each interaction (or when I remember to), I jot down the main things we talked about.
Why do I do this?
One, I want to remember the important things we talked about.
Two, by remembering what they said and asking follow-up questions in our next conversation, I hope it signals to them that I care about them deeply.
And three, it’s hard to keep track of everything mentally, so storing it on Notion frees up more mental space in my brain.
11/ Yearly Goals
This is where I set goals for the upcoming year.
It’s a simple table where I write down my goals in the left-hand column and organize them by the relevant tag in the right-hand column.
Currently, this system works for me.
However, I’m thinking of making it more detailed.
I’m planning on creating a new page for each yearly goal. This way, I can reverse engineer the goal. And break it down into quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily milestones.
It’d be much easier to track if you’re making progress toward your goals.
Let me know your thoughts on this.
12/ Writing Portfolio
I used one of the existing Notion templates to create my writing portfolio.
This page includes articles I’ve written for Thought Catalog, samples of my ghostwriting for clients, and links to my Medium profile and personal website.
Wrapping Things Up
I can’t imagine my life without Notion now.
Improved my productivity
Helped with mental clarity
Reduced my anxiety and stress