Ready to organize your life and business with Notion? We’ll walk you through our “S.O.A.R.” Notion System we use on a daily basis to be as productive as possible while not burning ourselves out.
While we love productivity, we’re NOT trying to be the most productive humans ever and we don’t enjoy hustle-culture. However, we are constantly trying to improve our efficiency and use systems that make our lives easier.
When wearing multiple hats in your online business, it becomes all too easy for tasks, projects, and goals to fall through the cracks.
As creative people, we don’t always think about organization first, but organization has actually made us MORE creative.
When you can get all of your to-dos, your tasks, the overwhelm of everything you have to think about out of your brain and into a system, it leaves more room for creativity, for having ideas and for executing those ideas.
When you can get all of your to-dos, your tasks, the overwhelm of everything you have to think about out of your brain and into a system, it leaves more room for creativity, for having ideas and for executing those ideas.
Let us share a big, juicy secret with you: Sustainable habits and being consistent are the most* important things necessary when trying to reach your goals.
*When we say most important, we mean the most important things YOU can control. We don’t want to ignore or minimize that privilege is real and not everyone has the same advantages.
But alas, forming new habits can be a struggle!
We all love to read/watch/listen to other people talk about their holy grail productivity tools and habit-building hacks, but it’s important that you figure out what works best for YOU and your unique situation.
👩🏻🦰👨🏻🦲 Our Journey with Productivity Apps and Tactics before Notion
Here’s the truth about our journey with organizing our business and staying on top of things using different productivity tools/tactics over the years…
Every time we discover a new productivity tool or app, our motivation and organization shoot up! We get really excited and we spend hours setting up a new app to ensure maximum productivity but then, a few months (maybe even weeks) later, the adrenaline of the new shiny app wears off and we just stop using it. #wompwomp
It happened with Trello.
It happened with Asana.
It happened with digital planning.
It happened with Airtable.
We were exhausted by the cycle of finding a new organizational tool, forgetting to keep up with it, feeling overwhelmed because everything fell to pieces and nothing is organized, feeling shame for not being able to keep up with the tool, and finally, looking for a new tool to escape the guilt from abandoning the last one.
We craved consistency in our organization systems. We wanted a system that was flexible enough that we could adjust when we got bored (or didn’t feel as productive). We also wanted something versatile enough to manage multiple types of organization so we could focus on actually using just ONE system, not three different apps and systems.
Notion is what finally fit that criteria.
Notion Basics: Content Blocks, Pages, and Databases
Before we dive into how we use Notion to organize our lives and businesses, let’s go through a little crash course on the basics of how Notion works.
Notion is a system of interconnected pages. You can add content to each page by using different types of content blocks.
There are many different content blocks in Notion such as:
- basic headings and lists,
- code, quotes, and callouts,
- content toggles,
- images and videos,
- and so much more!
We like to think of Notion as a system of blocks for you to build whatever you want.
You can pick and choose the blocks that would work for every single page in your Notion workspace.
But by far, the feature that stands out the most is the ability to create Databases.
Notion Databases (a quick overview)
Notion Databases allow you to organize similar pages and assign different properties to them.
While databases seemed complicated and clunky with other productivity apps, Notion has really nailed this feature!
You can visualize the same Database in different ways using Views (Gallery, Calendar, Board, Timeline, etc):
It’s important to know that every single entry in a Notion database is its own Notion page which means you can customize it with content blocks.
You can also create Templates to load a pre-made set of content blocks for every page.
The best part of Notion is using all these blocks together to build whatever dashboards and pages are most helpful to keep your life and business organized. Truly, the possibilities are endless and that’s what makes Notion powerful!
Organizing Life and Business with our Notion S.O.A.R. System
After many months of using Notion, we took a look at the MOST important databases and pages we use here at Wandering Aimfully and then we organized it into a system we could teach to you!
And that system has an acronym, because DUH.
S = Setup
O = Organize
A = Act
R = Review
🦅🦅🦅 (feel free to do your own bird screech sound effects for added flare!)
Introducing… the S.O.A.R. Notion System!
Before we dive into each component of the system, we’re going to give you an overview of the key pages in our S.O.A.R. Notion system. This will give you a reference point for everything in the system, then we’ll show you how we actually USE it.
Part 1 of our S.O.A.R. System: Setup
The pages in this category are the foundation blocks of setting the vision for what we are aiming for, what areas of growth we want to see, and what projects will help us get there.
We have three main databases for the Setup part of the system:
- 🌿 Life Areas
- 🎯 Goal Tracker
- 🗂 Projects
🌿 Life Areas: What aspects of your life you want to cultivate and keep balanced?
In this database, we’ve listed out all of the areas in our life that we want to pay attention to. Think of broad categories like Family, Finances, and Knowledge and Learning. Here are the exact Life Area categories we use:
- Personal Care
- Rest & Joy
- Work Productivity
In order to cultivate each Life Area, we’ve created a relation property that is linked to the Goal Tracker database (more on this below) so we can set goals for each area of our life.
For example, in the Finances life area, we set a goal to get 20 sales of an online course during launch.
🎯 Goal Tracker: What specific, measurable results are you working toward?
In this database, we add each goal as a Key Result (specific, measurable outcome) and identify the Objective (more intangible and broad) that it aligns with.
Each goal is connected to a Life Area and to Projects (if applicable) using relation properties. We also have a date property to take note of when we want the goal to be completed.
For example, the key result is to write & publish 5 new articles, and the objective it’s trying to serve is to increase organic website traffic. This key result is connected to the Work Productivity life area and the Blog project.
🗂 Projects: What self-contained marketing channels or initiatives will help you reach your goals?
This database consists of any projects that we want to track for our business(es). This could range from launching a new course, tracking an ongoing marketing channel like Podcasts, to managing your Clients, etc.
We find it really helpful to create Projects for content creation as it’s easy to have those recurring “projects” slip through the cracks week by week if you don’t plan them accordingly with everything else.
The PAGE area of each project is where you can manage everything related to just that project. We’ve created a Project Template where we set objectives and key results for the project. We also create the tasks associated with the project and compile the resources and inspiration for it.
Just to further clarify how these all work together, we like to think of it as:
- 🌿 Life Areas are the broad aspects of your life and business.
- 🧭 Objectives are setting up the vision for those life areas.
- 🎯 Key Results are the specific, measurable outcome that serves your objectives.
Here’s a specific example:
- 🌿 Your life area is Community as in trying to be a better community member.
- 🧭 Your objective within that life area is to engage in ongoing anti-racism education, reflection & action.
- 🎯 To serve this objective, one of your key results is to complete at least one anti-racism course or workshop per quarter.
You can also apply the same concept to your Projects. For example:
- Your project is Launching Your Hand-Lettering Business.
- One of your objectives within that project is to establish organic traffic coming to your website.
- To serve this objective, one of your key results is to write and publish ten articles on your website.
Part 2 of the S.O.A.R. System: Organize
The pages in this category are the smaller bits that projects and initiatives get broken into. These pages help us move the bigger projects forward.
We have three main databases for the Organize part of the system: Tasks, Content Calendar, and Social Posts.
✅ Tasks: What are the actual to-do items you will spend time on to execute your projects and goals?
All of our tasks across all of our Life Areas and Projects go into this master Task Manager database.
For each task, we assign a DO Date which is the date we plan to actually work on the task, not the deadline.
Quick shout-out to August Bradley; we believe he came up with the term “DO Date” for his own Notion system.
We also connect each task to the Project or Content Piece (more on this later) the task is related to via relation properties.
For example, the task record podcast falls into the Podcast project and the Episode 01 content piece. That way, we’re able to see all the tasks in the context of the project or specific content it falls under.
📝 Content Calendar: What longer form pieces of content do you plan to create?
All of our content (articles, podcasts, newsletters, YouTube videos) goes into one master Content Calendar database.
We use the type property to differentiate between the different content channels and to set the status of each content piece. We also add a Publish By date (deadline) and a Create By date (when the majority of the creation will happen) to each content piece.
📝 Social Posts: What longer form pieces of content do you plan to create?
The Social Posts database functions similarly to the Content Calendar but we prefer to keep it separate because if you’re posting on your socials every day, it can get cluttered very quickly.
We use the type property to differentiate between the different platforms and to set the status of each social post.
The Calendar View for both the Content Calendar and Social Posts databases are especially helpful to see when our content and when the related social posts get published.
Part 3 of S.O.A.R.: Act
The pages in this category are the dashboards and pages designed to actually GET. THINGS. DONE. most efficiently.
We have three main pages for the Act part of the system:
- ⚡️ Daily Dashboard
- 🖥 Biz Dashboard
- 🏭 Content Factory Dashboard
This is really where the system starts to come together because this is where you execute on all of the stuff that you did in the set-up and organize sections.
⚡️ Daily Dashboard: What will keep you focused on what you need to work on each day?
This page is where we spend most of our time in Notion every single day.
You can customize your own daily dashboard but for our system, we have spaces for:
- Weekly Intention: What aspect of my life do I want to focus on this week?
- Weekly Goal: What is the most important goal I want to achieve this week?
- Daily Trackers: This is where we track our habits, gratitude, and mood.
The most actionable part of the Daily Dashboard (and where the magic really happens) is the Daily Task Manager. This is the same database as your Task Manager but it is filtered to show only the uncompleted tasks whose Do Dates are today and previous days.
This way, tasks don’t fall through the cracks because you are always reminded every day which tasks you assigned to be done today and the tasks you didn’t manage to complete from previous days.
The tasks are always piling up in this section so if there’s a task we haven’t done for a week, that tells us that we’re not prioritizing this task and we either need to do it or set it for a date in the future.
We also have linked databases to our Projects and Goal Trackers so we can quickly jump to a specific project if we need to.
🖥 Biz Dashboard: What are the basic guiding principles for your business and how can you track your progress?
The Biz Dashboard is a page where you can see your business at-a-glance. Think of it as a living and breathing page of where you can implement the things you’re learning for your business.
In this dashboard, we have:
4Qs: These are the core questions you need to answer to know what you’re doing and what your business can offer to people. We talk more about this in the Foundation section of our 5-Step Business Checklist.
Goals: This is where we write our revenue goal for the year as well as list our business-specific goals from the Goal Tracker database.
Marketing Bridge Strategy: This little section is where we can see at-a-glance, “Are we hitting initiatives at every step of the critical marketing bridge puzzle?” We share more about the Marketing Bridge concept in this article.
Project Focus By Week: Each week, we like to set our project focus which is especially useful if you’re juggling multiple projects at a time.
Growth: We also track specific metrics in our business each week such as traffic and newsletter subscribers.
🏭 Content Factory Dashboard: What will help you batch ideate and create content?
The Content Factory Dashboard helps us stay on track on all of our content channels. We use this dashboard to:
- Brainstorm content piece ideas and social posts,
- schedule our content pieces and social posts in our content calendar,
- and view the tasks related to upcoming content pieces.
We’ve found that an efficient way for us to generate content ideas is to write all our ideas in a stream-of-consciousness style and then decide afterward the content channel that is best suited for each idea.
We use the same drag-and-drop concept for batch ideating and scheduling our Social Posts.
In the Scheduling section of our Content Factory Dashboard, we have a list view of our Content Calendar database which is filtered to show only the content pieces that have not been assigned a Publish Date, basically ideas that are floating around but haven’t actually made it in our Content Calendar.
From this list view, we can then drag each content piece idea to a calendar view (using the Publish Date) of our Content Calendar database to easily assign a publish date.
This process makes sure that all of our content ideas are captured and ready to be scheduled.
Once we’ve added our publishing dates, we go to this section to create tasks related to each content piece.
Part 4 of S.O.A.R.: Review
The pages in this category are the time-based pages and databases that help us check in regularly, plan for the future, and review all we accomplish.
The main databases for the Review part of the system: Daily Habit Tracking and Weekly, Monthly & Yearly Planning.
This is crucial because even if you spend all the time setting everything up in Notion, if you don’t come back to it often and don’t give yourself set times to invigorate and maintain the system, it will not work.
Even if you spend all the time setting everything up in Notion, if you don’t come back to it often and don’t give yourself set times to invigorate and maintain the system, it will not work.
☀️ Daily Tracking: What daily habits or data do you want to track?
In this database, each entry corresponds to a single day. We created properties to correspond to specific habits, metrics, and information we want to track on a daily basis.
Each day is also connected to a specific week in the Weeks database so we can review that information later on during the Weekly Review process (more on this below).
📅 Weekly Planning & Reviews: How do you want to look back on your week and set intentions for the upcoming week?
Moving on to the Weeks database, each entry in here corresponds to a single week.
The properties for the Weeks database are a little bit different because it rolls up or aggregates the data you’ve tracked in your Daily Tracking database.
For example, if you recorded the following data for the Exercise habit (property) in your Daily Tracking database:
- Apr 4: ✅
- Apr 5: ⬜️
- Apr 6: ⬜️
- Apr 7: ✅
- Apr 8: ✅
- Apr 9: ✅
- Apr 10: ✅
In your Weeks database, you’ll see this for the Exercise roll-up property:
- Apr 4-10: ✅ ⬜️ ⬜️ ✅ ✅ ✅ ✅
You can roll up all kinds of data like habits, daily mood, sleep hours, business metrics (average traffic, total newsletter sign-ups), and even your daily gratitude.
Inside each of the Weekly pages (remember, each entry in a database is also a page!), we’ve created a Weekly Planning & Review Template.
In this page, we summarize what went well (or didn’t go well) and what we learned from the week. We check in on our Life Areas and Goal Trackers to see which areas we need to give more attention to. Then we hop in on planning for our Projects and Upcoming Tasks to make sure we’re on track or if we need to reschedule tasks. We also look at our Content Calendar and Social Posts to check our upcoming content pieces and make sure that we have enough ideas batched and planned for the next two weeks. And lastly, we have a section for tracking specific growth metrics in our business.
Think of it this way: Weekly Planning is Boss You and the Daily Dashboard is the Employee You. The Daily Dashboard is for getting stuff done every day and the Weekly Planning is for setting what needs to be done every day.
🧓 Monthly & Yearly Reviews: What processes will help you on a monthly and yearly basis to set goals for your life and business?
We also do Monthly and Yearly Reviews, which is set up similarly to the Weekly Reviews, but we review and plan broader aspects of our life and business.
You can also watch us break down our (free!) Yearly Planning Notion Template in this video:
Now that you’ve got the lay of the land, let us show you how we actually USE our Notion System!
How We Actually USE our Notion System
There are a lot of components in our Notion System so you’re probably wondering: How do all these blocks work together to help us actually run our business better?
Let’s walk you through it!
First, we set our vision for the year in the Years database…
Then we turn that vision into concrete financial goals and project plans for Q1 in our Quarters database…
👉👉 For example: at the beginning of Q1, we set up projects for our January Flash Sale and Spring Enrollment Launch, and when we finally decided on the Notion Starter Pack as our spring “product,” we turned that into a project as well.
When we make a new project, we load our New Project template, and brainstorm tasks. We pull those into our Tasks database, and we’ll usually also estimate time for each task at this point too and assign a “Do Date”
We also usually add goals at the Project level as well so we know what we’re aiming to achieve with that project.
That’s all for NEW initiatives and projects, but what about ongoing content?
We have a project for each content channel. We plan our publishing schedule a month ahead at a time during our Monthly Planning meeting.
We do our monthly planning in the Months database…
Usually, our Content Calendar is empty or half-empty at this point, which means we need content ideas!
That’s when we head to the Content Factory 🏭!
We can use this page to come up with ideas or schedule content that are in the idea stage and needs a Publish Date.
For example, if we have an idea for a new podcast episode, we can add it in the Brainstorm section of our dashboard and drag it into the Podcast column.
Or we can go to the Podcast project page directly and drag our “Ideas” view onto our Calendar View to assign a Publish Date to them.
Once episodes have a Publish Date, that’s when we load in our “Podcast Episode” template and create tasks to actually MAKE that piece of content.
On a monthly basis, we also have our Budget Meeting 🤑💸. We use this dashboard page to input our expenses, our income, see our profit for the month, and see our spending compared to our budget.
Every week, on Sundays, we do a weekly review.
We evaluate Life Areas, Projects, Goals, Content, and basically just check in with the whole system to see what needs to be updated or tackled in the upcoming week.
This is where I (👩🏻🦰 Caroline) do my “Intentional Balance Inventory” where I rate my Life Areas 1-10 based on how much attention they got the previous week. If I want to shift my focus to an area that is being neglected, I set that as my weekly intention in our Daily Dashboard so I see it every day.
During that Weekly Review, we’re also logging any stats we want to track for our conversions, etc.
And, also during the Weekly Review, we’re rearranging any tasks for the upcoming week to better even out my schedule and batch tasks if necessary. Don’t be afraid to have a bad week and then need to rearrange your tasks, it happens to us too!
Then… every single morning, we sit down at our Daily Dashboard, and we plan out our day.
The first thing we do is add a new day to our Daily Tracking and we fill out our gratitude, our habit trackers.
This section of our Dashboard is where we spend our day though. We assign priorities to our tasks or we designate them for 1 of our 4 “work blocks.”
If it’s a task where we want to track our time, we set the Start Time when we begin and we set the End Time when we’re done.
That’s it! And still, you might be like… WHOA.
The beauty of the S.O.A.R. system is you’re really just updating it at the quarterly, monthly, weekly level. Then you just execute it daily.
This system is complex but you’re really only updating it at specific times. When we do our Weekly Review, it usually only takes about an hour max but that hour is the most powerful hour that we spend on our business because it sets us up for everything else.
S.O.A.R. Notion System 🦅 Wrap-up
If your head is up in the Notion-clouds with all the databases, blocks, properties and dashboards, here’s a quick little zoomed out recap to show you how we use the S.O.A.R. Notion System to run our life and business:
👵 Yearly Plan
We start by mapping out our year and setting goals for our life and business as a whole.
💠 Quarterly Plan
During the Quarterly Planning, we create our new Project pages, set up goals and create tasks for those projects.
🗓 Monthly Plan
This is when we set up our Content Calendar for the month, update our Content Factory Dashboard, and do our Budget Meeting to check in on our financials.
📆 Weekly Plan
Every week, we review and update our Life Areas, set our daily intentions in the Daily Dashboard, plan our Social Posts, track our Growth metrics, and make adjustments to the Tasks we’ve already entered in our system.
⚡️ Daily Dashboard
This is where we do our Daily Tracking, where we take action on our Tasks, track our time and GET. THINGS. DONE 🥳
It seems like a lot but again, you’re only updating the system:
- once a year,
- every quarter,
- once a month (for an hour every week),
- and then you’re executing it daily! 👏👏👏
Everything else is working for you behind the scenes and you are just presented with the things that you need at the time you need them.
The final thing to remember: If your life and business have felt disorganized in the past, we’re with you! This system in Notion has really helped us get a stronghold on everything that’s important for us to focus on.
Good luck and happy organizing! 👋