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Your team should move from Google Docs to Notion

TL;DR: Notion is better-linked, more comprehensive, more collaborative version of Google Docs that you should move your team onto.

Background

I used to work at Google, on Hangouts Chat (we sat in the same building as the Google Docs people). Google Docs was pretty good, I thought.

Then I worked at Streamlit (founded by 3 ex-Googlers). This was my first time hearing about our lord and savior Notion. It was amazing.

Now I work at Manifold (2 of the 3 founders are ex-Googlers). It’s incredibly hard to imagine operating without Notion.

I would happily pay $1000 each month to keep Notion in my life, over the next best alternative. Which means I value Notion more than a car (total cost of ownership on a cheap car is ~$600 a month).

Notion for writing (vs Google Docs)

Beautiful by default

Never choose a font or adjust a margin again. Notion is far more restrictive in the styling options it allows you — which is GOOD. You don’t actually want to be spending any time whatsoever on the style for 99% of documents; you want to focus on the substance.

And Notion’s style is quite good; it obeys eg rules laid out for good typography.

Shortcuts for common use cases

You can find all the things Notion supports by typing / . But once you get into the flow of writing, there’s a bunch of really quick shortcuts to pretty up your Notion doc:

@pagetitle
Link to another Notion page
- hello
Bulleted list
1. goodbye
Numbered list
# Heading
Title (use ## or ### for smaller titles)
[ ] task one
Checkbox
> Extra info
Toggle (good for footnotes)
Paste link
Paste image

Link to everything else

Once again: Linking to any other Notion doc you’ve ever written is trivially easy: just type @pagetitle and pick the

.

Sure, you could do this in Google docs by going to find the thing you want to link, and then putting the URL in, and creating a hyperlink; but that 1 minute process is 3 seconds. Notion removes the trivial inconvenience of linking between things, meaning that

Export everywhere without breaking formatting

One amazing thing about Notion is that if you just copy the whole thing, it pastes with:AN

  • Rich Text (HTML-style formatting that works in e.g. Substack and LessWrong)
  • Markdown plain text (which is usable by a lot of programmer text things like GitHub)
Caveat on pasting Notion images

Images that you paste into Notion will be hosted by Notion, but don’t rely on it externally because it will expire soon (I think in 24h or so)

Example: Seed Round Memo

Notion for meetings

  • As an extension to docs; Notion is great for hosting all your meeting notes
  • Calendar view lets you browse meetings chronologically
    image
    Templates prepopulates the meeting with a bunch of requisite information, eg for Daily Standup
    image

Example: Manifold Meeting Notes

Notion for tables (vs Google Sheets)

Caveat: If you actually want to do anything more complicated than sums/averages in your sheets, eg any kind of mathematical modeling, you should probably use

Notion for tasks (vs Asana, Trello)

image

Example

  • Manifold Tasks

Notion for “wiki” (vs ???)

The biggest shift after using Notion, though, is when your team starts putting all their information and thoughts into Notion. Then, you can quickly browse through the idea-space of what everyone else is thinking about; and they can browse through yours. It becomes really quick to drop into

Notion for websites (vs Webflow/Contentful)

One tool to rule them all

Notion Cons

  • It’s not as free
    • Free tier for individuals is decent; for teams, you probably should just pay for it
  • It’s a bit slower for large pages, and search
    • “Bit slower” means “not instant speed eg <0.5s”, but it’s serviceable for basically every use case
  • Google Sheets or Excel is better for mathematical modeling
    • I still turn to Google Sheets to do “real math”
  • It’s a bit confusing to new collaborators
    • Viewing experience is okay, but editing is kinda hard to grok the first time
  • Doesn’t have the “editor mode” of Google docs, where someone can propose changes by directly editing the doc.
    • Though, this might be a good thing - I actually just prefer others to write over most of my documents.
    • Notion pattern: I’ll often prefix an inline change with [Austin] or [A] to indicate the authorship of who’s writing

Try Notion for $100 to charity!

If you’re on the edge, or doubting that Notion is better than Google Docs: I’m willing to bet on it. Set up a Manifold Market on “Will I want to continue using Notion after a month” to record the bet. If it resolves to NO, I’ll send you M$10,000 aka 100 USD to your favorite charity.

If it resolves YES, though, you commit to buying M$10,000 yourself. Which you can then still send to your favorite charity!