Why I prefer Notion

Yuval Greenfield
5 min readDec 10, 2019


In my career there weren’t many times when I found a tool that felt like a leap in productivity. I remember first discovering Python as a C software engineer, browsing an open source project on GitHub, and collaborating on a movie script with Google Docs. Notion is as big of an upgrade in the following capacities.

How I Use Notion

  • As a wiki — all team members keep all their notes, knowledge, questions, answers, specifications, and files in notion.
  • As a task database— I can view tasks as a calendar, kanban board, or grid. Each task is also a page so I can add files, embed docs, tweets, mention people, and link to other tasks/docs. A page can have tasks, where each task is a page of its own - taskception. You can use these “database” pages for other things, but I’ve only tried tasks.
  • As a hierarchical map of all the documents, files, and documents we produce.

Not The Notion

The following is how I compare Notion to other tools that overlap in these capacities. You can read it as a list of things I love about Notion, but it’s a bit easier to explain these points as dings.

Google Docs

I love gdocs, and still use it a lot. But the UI is dated, and the features are basic. These are the problems I have when switching back from Notion:

  • Can’t at-mention people mid-document. You can mention people in comments, but that’s uncomfortable when the mention should persist, e.g. in a document describing roles and responsibilities.
  • No auto-complete for linking to other documents.
  • Can’t add files to a document.
  • Navigating google drive folders is slow.
  • It’s too easy to make docs outside the communal folder hierarchy.
  • In general the formatting isn’t as rich. You can’t embed tweets, videos, or to-do lists you can check off.
  • Search is painful. You don’t see the context of search hits, it just returns a list of documents. This problem becomes insurmountable the more people join your org and fill the corporate shared folders.
  • Table of contents need to be manually refreshed.


The biggest Airtable advantage is that the calendar can be synchronized with other calendars. So your deadlines can show up in your real calendar. Notion doesn’t have this feature, though I still prefer Notion because Airtable:

  • Doesn’t do documents aside from tiny note cells.
  • Can’t embed rich content in a row item except for maybe in the comments of an item which is messy and unstructured.
  • Can’t assign a row to multiple people.


I’ve used MediaWiki as a workplace wiki only twice and it was a long time ago. It works fine as a big notepad with links, but to do all the fancy things Wikipedia does takes engineering effort. Most folks did not appreciate the complexity required to do anything structured. Templates, tables, and formatting in general have a syntax most people can’t be bothered to learn.


Confluence is a nice wiki, but a poor task management system. JIRA is an OK task management system, but a poor wiki. Combining JIRA and Confluence does not spark joy because the editor is different in each, and each has its own separate plugins and quirks. Both together do not have a proper calendar view.

Github markdown files in repo

I hope you didn’t think that GitHub logo meant I use notion for code. I don’t. But it is a great place to create markdown files. Notion can export pages as markdown so they’re easy to convert to a GitHub repo if that’s something you need to do. Github as a CMS has these issues compared to Notion:

  • No sorting tables.
  • Editing on GitHub is cumbersome.
  • No autocomplete for linking between documents.
  • No way to drag images into a document, you have to manually and separately upload them.

Dropbox Paper

I do love how clean the Paper editor is. Still, the lack of calendar, database and task functionality limits Dropbox paper to a scratchpad for me.

The downsides of Notion

  • It costs money
  • Isn’t open source
  • I’ve had cases where I needed to log out and back in because of a bug.
  • Printing databases doesn’t allow to choose which columns get printed from the table view.

Unique bonus points Notion gets right


My tabs often look like this:

Setting an emoji favicon is a giant button at the top of each Notion page, which compels most to set an icon. It makes my tabs look like this:

Which is much easier to navigate.

Linked database views

Having a table in one page be referenced in another page, but with a different filter, sort or visualization, is huge. I can manage my tasks in my view, and slice off different views for stakeholders. I have a task planning view, a calendar for the marketers to sync, and a master sheet for the broader team to coordinate. I believe linked database views have many more use-cases than I can currently imagine.

Bread crumbs

I often land on a document and wonder where am I. While websites solve this with breadcrumb navigation, for some reason, all the other workplace content apps I use barely mention the current folder this document is in.

Attaching a file to a page

When I have a document that’s meant to design another document, there really isn’t anything quite like just having the resulting artifact live right there inside the design document. This is especially true for visual assets. In Notion I can just drag any file onto any page and often there’s an embed or preview for the content too. I’ve been so used to working around this problem that it took me months to notice the feature.


This is not a paid ad, I don’t work for Notion as far as I’m aware. I just like the app, wanted to call out a few things I enjoy about it, and say thanks to the nice folks at Notion for making it. Cheers.