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Notion Project Management Guide (Database, Gantt Chart, Timeline, CRM)

notion-project-management

Curious about Notion project management?

It’s been just four years since Notion arrived on the scene, and the software has already made waves in the industry.

But what is Notion?

Notion is a powerful note-taking app (similar to Evernote) and a collaborative tool that helps teams organize their work and documents.

While the Notion workspace is definitely more suited to note-making, it does have a few features geared towards managing project tasks.

How helpful those features are is another story, though.

Luckily, that story begins right here!

In this article, we’ll take a look at how Notion helps you with project management, its advantages, its limitations, and how to get around its issues with an easier alternative!

Let’s get started.

What Is Notion?

notion

Notion is a digital workspace that allows you to organize all your company’s work and tasks. 

This productivity tool essentially lets you create documents and collaborate with your team. 

But that’s not all. Notion can play a role in managing projects too.

Oh, and if you enjoyed playing with legos as a kid, you might find this interesting…  

Notion offers different blocks that can be used to create your own unique layouts and templates for your project. This way, you combine various blocks of information to create a cohesive project space.

What is Notion used for?

Most companies use Notion primarily as a note taking app and an internal knowledge base. 

It’s largely used to:

  • draft project plans
  • create and store important guides and tutorials 
  • create a database 

However, the Notion workspace isn’t just for teams; it can be used by anyone who wants to organize their life. 

You can do all sorts of interesting stuff like storing your favorite recipes, personal goals, and even jokes (in case you moonlight as a standup comic).

stand up comedian making a joke

What Are The Key Features Of Notion Project Management?

The Notion app might look like compact project management software, but it has a few interesting features up its sleeve. 

Let’s take at the best it has to offer:

Here’s how they work:

1. Wikis 

This is Notion’s jam. 

This feature allows you to create ‘Wikis’, or directories of documents that have everything your team members need to know about your company or project. 

Just like a Google Doc, each document supports rich-text formatting, code snippets, and more. You can also group all your policies, professional goals, plans together for easy knowledge management.

acme image

2. Kanban board

When you’re managing projects, you need to know what your team is working on at all times. 

Unfortunately, there’s no crystal ball to help you out. (Sorry, psychics.) 

However, Notion has the next best thing: a Kanban board.

A Kanban board reveals the status of all your project tasks (‘To Do’, ‘Doing’, ‘Done’), and who’s assigned to the task. Once Notion users finish a task, they can drag and drop the card to the relevant status column.

3. Notion database views

Besides Kanban boards, Notion’s database offers multiple views of your project tasks. You can view them as a task list, in a calendar view, through a gallery view, or via a table.

As a more advanced type of page, the Notion database can be imagined as a distinct spreadsheet. When populating fields in a Notion database, each item can have its own Notion page.

4. Project pages

As mentioned above, each item in your Notion linked database has a dedicated Notion page. The Notion page can be chock-full of important information and checklists related to the task. This way, you get a detailed breakdown of every item.

notion design tasks gif

Notion also allows you to create a page within a project page; talk about pageception!

What are the advantages of choosing Notion for project management?

Sure, Notion has a few project management features, but note-making is what it prioritizes.

The tool is sort of like DC Comics that way.

They have Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash… But Batman’s the only one who gets a movie, a TV show, and a video game; talk about favoritism!

batman saying oh snap gif

If you have a small team, Notion can help you with basic project management processes like assigning tasks, storing project documents, and working with your colleagues. But that’s it.

Let’s take a look at what you can benefit from though:

1. Real-time collaboration

Notion lets you add comments anywhere within the database or a project page. Notion also sends team members a notification whenever you mention them in a comment. 

They missed an opportunity to call them Notionifications, tbh.

Additionally, you can work on a particular Notion page at the same time with your remote team, making it the perfect replacement for Google Docs aficionados.

2. A template for everything

As previously mentioned, Notion’s user interface is like a set of legos. 

Because of this, you can create your custom project page to match your project needs.

However, you don’t have to do the hard work yourself.

Tons of Notion users have already created every project template imaginable, including:

  • A meeting notes document
  • A new hire onboarding template
  • A task management template
  • And a document to manage your Dungeon and Dragons campaign!

(We’re not joking)

3. Powerful apps

You can access every Notion feature on almost any platform.

There is an Android app, an iOS app, a desktop app (Mac and Windows), and also a Chrome extension. 

And that isn’t all.

Like the Evernote web clipper, the Notion web browser extension lets you store webpage clippings, articles, links, or pictures in your Notion workspace.

4. Managing a Notion CRM

Notion’s database view makes it a good tool for managing CRM contacts. The app offers a CRM template that you can duplicate with a baseline of category fields.

Recently Notion added an integration with Zapier so you can populate inbound leads into your Notion CRM.

In your Notion CRM, import CSV files, add contact tags, populate email addresses, and change pipeline stages.

Is Notion Good For Project Management

While Notion does have a few handy features for project management, it lacks a lot of core functions that you find in dedicated project management software. 

Look, Notion is a great note-taking app, but it’s not enough if you’re looking for a comprehensive project management tool. You might need to look for Notion alternatives.

Here are a few disadvantages of choosing Notion for project management:

(click on the links to jump to a specific drawback)

  1. Complex user interface 
  2. Limited goal tracking features 
  3. No dependency visualization 
  4. No built-in reporting 
  5. Difficult to automate work 

Note: This Notion project management analysis also showcases how dedicated project management software like ClickUp can solve all the problems you might experience with Notion.

What’s ClickUp?

ClickUp devices on Alexa, laptop, and iPad

ClickUp is the world’s leading remote project management tool.

With a whole host of features, it’s got everything an in-house or a remote team needs to run successful projects.

Now, let’s get down to some major Notion limitations and how ClickUp solves them: 

1. Complex user interface

Notion is like a cannon made out of glass. 

It might be powerful, but its biggest strength is also its biggest weakness.

Here’s what we mean:

It requires users to use its blocks to make the most out of its features. However, figuring out how to use all these blocks and templates can be overwhelming for most Notion users. 

It’s sort of like opening up a 10,000-piece lego set all at once.

You have all the parts you need.

But figuring out how to get them to fit together?

a confused man gif

Our thoughts exactly.

Solution #1: Easy onboarding

You don’t have to solve puzzles to use a project management tool like ClickUp.

ClickUp is a ridiculously simple task management platform that has no learning curve. 

You don’t have to spend days teaching your project teams on how to use ClickUp

All you need is our quick-start guide.

It has everything your team needs to know before they create their first task in ClickUp.

Note: If you’re migrating from another productivity app like Basecamp, Wrike, or Jira, you can import all your project data in a few simple steps. Click here to find out how.

Solution #2: Slash Commands

Psst..want to know a few shortcuts to help you breeze through task management?

ClickUp has a built-in slash command or keyboard shortcut for almost everything. 

Here are just a few out of our 50+ shortcuts:

  • /a : assign a task to your team members
  • /s : change task status
  • /cl : close a task
  • /in : add inline code snippets

Solution #3: Structured Workspace

Because the Notion workspace doesn’t have a structure in place, you might be stuck for hours within the labyrinth of pages, databases, and tasks.

Which would leave you feeling like this:

confuse gif

If you want to make task management easier, you’ll have to create a linked Notion database that contains all your tasks and multiple projects

But that’s too much work if you ask us.

There’s an easier way.

ClickUp has a simple Hierarchy Structure that acts as a map while you’re navigating through your unified workspace.

It looks like this:

Workspace > Space > Folders > Lists > Tasks > Subtasks > Checklists

hierarchy in ClickUp gif

Here’s how they work:

Workspace: the highest level where you can break your company into teams

Spaces: these are the major departments, like “marketing” or “HR”

Folders: used to store project lists/groups

Lists: this is where individual projects are listed

Tasks: each task page has its own subtasks, description, comments, and more

Subtasks: large tasks are broken down into manageable subtasks

Checklists: they exist within tasks or subtasks 

2. Limited goal tracking features

You can create a beautiful Notion page to plan your business goals… but there’s just one problem.

There’s no way to track your progress towards the goal.

Yes, you can create a checklist of objectives. 

But you can’t see how close you are meeting those objectives either. 

This can be quite demotivating. 

Sorta like building a piece of furniture without the instructions:

a man and woman adulting gif

Solution: ClickUp Goals

Unlike Notion, ClickUp’s Goals aren’t just words written on a page. 

Goals are high-level containers that are broken down into small objectives known as Targets.

You can measure Targets with a variety of units like numbers, currency, true/false, and task lists.

And once you hit a Target, ClickUp updates the progress percentage automatically and shows you how close you are to the Goal.

clickup goals

 

3. No dependency visualization

One of the core parts of project management is tracking your project’s progress to determine if you can meet your deadlines. 

How do you do that?

You’ll need a project timeline or a Gantt chart that lists the sequence of tasks that need to be done in order to complete the project.

And while Notion mostly addressed this need late in 2020 with their Timeline view, it’s missing a major component of managing larger, more complex projects: dependency management.

This means that, while you can see when tasks start and are expected to end, prioritizing tasks by visualizing relationships and dependencies is a no-go …which can lead to confusion from all parties involved.

Solution #1: Gantt Charts

ClickUp’s Gantt charts neatly display all the project tasks on a dated timeline.

This way, you know what tasks are expected to be completed and by when.

It also displays how the tasks are linked to each other with Task Dependencies. 

Just draw a line between two tasks like so, and boom, you’ve created dependent tasks.

task dependencies in ClickUp

And that’s not all; these Gantt charts also indicate your Critical Path.

PS: It’s the list of crucial tasks that need to be completed in order to meet your deadline on time.

Curious about how Gantt charts work and how they can help your team?

Solution #2: Timeline View

If you’re planning to create a product roadmap: choose ClickUp’s Timeline View.

It lets you visualize your project tasks, assignees, and deadlines so you can keep tabs on the development process.

You can also use it to group tasks by team members, so you can make sure no one is overloaded with a task list that goes on forever.

timeline view in ClickUp

4. No built-in reporting 

Almost every new project management tool allows you to track your team’s performance with reports. 

Does Notion have reports?

a cartoon pirate saying yes no gif

This unified workspace lacks a built-in reporting feature. However, there is a third-party reporting app for Notion. 

While it does have some neat charts, it comes with a hefty price tag.

In fact, the ‘Personal’ plan for that reporting app ($19/month) is almost five times as expensive as Notion’s Pro plan!

Solution: Dashboards

ClickUp’s powerful built-in Dashboards help you visualize your project data without the help of another app

Here are a few Agile project metrics you can track with Dashboards:

clickup dashboards

5. Difficult to automate work

While Notion doesn’t have an automation feature, you can technically use codes and formulas to help you out.

However, if you want to automate your workflow, you’ll have to figure out the correct formula through trial and error. 

It’s like playing with chemicals in a lab. 

You don’t know what will happen, but the results can be disastrous, most of the time.

mr bean science experiment

Solution: Task automation

Fortunately, you don’t have to experiment with ClickUp. 

You get access to around 50+ pre-made Automations that help you manage repetitive task management processes. 

With it, you can automatically:

  • Assign people to tasks
  • Change a task to high priority when the due date approaches 
  • Change the task list when the priority changes

And if you can’t find a particular automation, you can create your own!

(without any explosions, of course)

automation in ClickUp

But wait.

What about the things that Notion does well, like note-taking?

Can ClickUp handle whatever Notion does?

You betcha!

ClickUp’s Notepad feature lets you quickly jot down all your ideas (especially the ones you get at 3 AM), so you can convert them into actionable tasks later.

You can also:

  • Create checklists
  • Add rich text formatting like bold, italic, underline, etc.
  • Print your notes
  • Instantly share them with your team
Notepad in ClickUp

But what about Wikis?

We got them too!

ClickUp lets you create dynamic Wiki databases with Docs.

And since each Doc is stored alongside your project spaces, you can easily access them whenever you want.

With Docs, you can also:

  • Collaborate over files with your team using real-time editing
  • Nest pages within a Doc like in Notion
  • Embed links, YouTube videos, pictures, and more
  • Customize who gets access to each Doc
  • Let your Docs get indexed by Google to appear in search results
  • Drag and drop sections of your Doc to organize the appearance
docs in ClickUp

Hungry for more of ClickUp’s features?

Here’s a heaping helping of additional features that can boost your team’s productivity:

Flexible views: organize your tasks into a neat task list, Kanban board, or a Calendar view

Assigned comments: convert a comment into an actionable task and assign it to your team

Sprint lists: manage your Scrum or Agile software development team’s backlog

Native time tracking: track and manage your time efficiently

Integrations: allows you to connect with other work tools like Evernote, Zoom, and Time Doctor

Powerful mobile project management app: manage your team from anywhere, even your couch

Conclusion

So, should you choose Notion for project management?

There’s no denying that Notion is a great knowledge management and note-taking app. 

But when it comes to managing projects, it’s pretty limited.

It lacks a lot of key features that are already present in dedicated project management software like ClickUp.

A tool like ClickUp not only allows you to build detailed databases like Notion; it also offers all the essential features you need to manage your team and projects efficiently.  

So get ClickUp for free today, and let your team’s productivity shoot for the stars!

Homer Simpson in space

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