One of Notion’s biggest strengths is that it enables you to create a customized workspace and capture information and ideas with great flexibility. That characteristic makes it an amazingly versatile creative tool.
Here are 10 ways in which Notion can help you brainstorm, capture and develop your ideas:
1. Use Notion to create an idea file
Because Notion is a go-anywhere tool, it makes an excellent idea file. In other words, when inspiration strikes, you can open a page in Notion and quickly capture it. You can also return to your idea at any time to expand on it, on any of the devices you use that are equipped with the app.
If you’re using an iPhone, it gets even better: Siri, the iPhone’s digital assistant, can be used to dictate text into almost any application, including Notion. I use it constantly to capture flashes of inspiration before they get away from me.
You can set up a database in Notion to track multiple characteristics of each idea, such as priority and next steps. Use as a tool to manage, cultivate and activate your best ideas.
The fact that each entry in the database is also a page is a real plus. It gives you plenty of room to flesh out your idea, using Notion’s numerous block types.
2. Store a list of creative problem-solving questions
Creative, thought-provoking questions are excellent catalysts for generating innovative ideas. Why not curate a list of creative questions that you can refer to at any time to stimulate new ideas?
3. Store brainstorming prompts and techniques in pages
Notion enables you to store a variety of ideation tools and exercises as pages, so they are always just a click or a tap away.
4. Create a gallery of inspiring images
Because you can arrange images in multiple columns – or create a gallery of them using a block dedicated to that purpose – you can easily create a digital “vision board.” This is a collection of images related to a creative project you’re working on.
Images tap into a different part of the brain than text does. Using images for inspiration increases the odds that you’ll generate some novel insights and ideas.
5. Shoot photos of things that inspire you
Simply open a new page, title it and click in the blank page area toward the bottom of the screen. A horizontal toolbar will appear; tap on the image icon to access your smartphone’s camera. Snap the picture, and it will automatically be embedded in the page. You can then add notes and context to it, so you can recall why it inspires you or how you hope to adapt it to your needs.
6. Create a digital “swipe file”
Notion is agnostic when it comes to capturing content digitally. That makes it an excellent tool for creating your very own swipe file. What should become part of it? Anything and everything that you think may have some future value to you – or simply whatever inspires you.
One Notion user, Valentin Perez, has taken this idea farther than anyone I’ve ever seen. He has created a gigantic “topic forest” of reference material and things that inspire him, arranged into a hierarchical collection of topics that he can easily browse, search and add to as needed. It’s amazing. Watch the video below to see it in action.
7. Use the Notion web clipper to capture inspiring content
You can then use Notion’s many different types of blocks to interpret, expand upon or adapt each idea. You can create different text styles and background colors to differentiate between the article or resource itself and your thoughts and ideas about it.
8. Dedicate a page to each idea
Give them plenty of room to grow. The idea per page model can be really powerful in Notion. You can use its many types of blocks to express your idea in numerous ways and add lots of detail to it.
Get in the habit of recording one idea per page in Notion, capturing any details on paper that are in your mind at the time. Then, return to it days or weeks later to review it. You then have an opportunity to look upon each idea with fresh eyes and add more color, detail and nuance to those that inspire you. Notion gives you plenty of room and a wide-ranging toolset to record your additional thoughts and insights.
The bottom line is that you can create something that not only inspires you and enables you to build upon your idea, but also moves it closer to fruition using project management tools like checklists and kanban boards.
9. Brainstorm and cultivate ideas – together.
Create collaborative topics where you and your colleagues can brainstorm, develop, evaluate and implement ideas together.
10. Create a start page that “gamifies” the creative process.
In other words, it walks you through a series of pages and prompts that help you get into a specific mindset, as Maria Aldrey did with her Notion setup. She uses four personalities to slice and dice her projects and other pages in different ways to help her manage them effectively.
Brainstorming likewise benefits from a number of unique mindsets. When you’re brainstorming, for example, you’ll want to take on the mindset of an explorer, searching far and wide to generate and gather as many divergent ideas as you can. To evaluate your ideas, you should switch to a pragmatist, who considers their viability using a number of numerical criteria, such as cost, resources required and ease of implementation. Finally, a project manager mindset is advantageous for developing the action steps to implement the best ideas.
Check out Maria’s video to see what I mean:
In closing, if you’ve been using Notion as your personal knowledge base and lightweight project management system, it’s time to rethink what’s possible with it.
Why not start using it as a digital notebook to brainstorm, capture and develop your ideas?