Rachel and Chris dig into the many, many ways in which we use Notion at CodePen. Heads up, Notion has sponsored a couple of episodes of CodePen Radio lately, but not this. It’s just a tool we heavily use and this podcast is all about that sort of thing. Heck, this podcast itself was planned in a calendar database on Notion, which deals with dates, publication status, sponsors, and all sorts of stuff. And it’s probably one of the least involved Notion setups we have. Much more involved is stuff like project planning and our individual structures for our company-public weeknotes.

Time Jumps

  • 00:28 Topic introduction
  • 01:21 Tools we’re using for CodePen
  • 04:51 Getting buy in from the team
  • 07:57 What is Notion?
  • 10:55 Multiple views of the same data
  • 13:58 What does CodePen actually use Notion for?
  • 20:04 Sponsor: Jetpack Backups
  • 21:27 Second brain storage
  • 23:44 Roles and permissions in Notion
  • 31:14 Other features of Notion
  • 36:37 Fav Notion recent feature

Sponsor: Jetpack Backups

The big news from Jetpack is that all backups are realtime now. Realtime backups are awesome. Anything that happens on your site, it’s backed up immediately. That makes backups extremely useful as there is no risk you have to miss three-quarters of a day of content, purchase, comments or anything else because all you have is daily backups.


[Radio channel adjustment]

Announcer: Today, on CodePen Radio.

Chris Coyier: Hey, everybody. CodePen Radio 347. We're going to spend the whole time talking about Notion, which is an app. I almost called it a Web app, but they have native apps as well. Although, I'm not sure. They're probably Electron or whatever.

It's an app that defies descriptions sometimes. Although, I've tried many times. I think of it kind of as a document-keeping app, but we'll dig way into the details. I have Rachel with me this week. What's up, Rachel.

Rachel Smith: Hey!

Chris: Yeah! What's up?! I should also mention that, just recently, they sponsored a couple of episodes even of this show. But this particular one just came up organically. So, this episode is not sponsored by Notion. In fact, it's sponsored by Automattic.


Chris: Which we'll do a spot for in a minute. But this is just us talking about the tool because we use it. In fact, as you were helping get the notes ready for this thing, you put a point on it, Rach, that I thought was interesting. We really only use three team-based tools at all on CodePen, at least for keeping organized, right?

Rachel: Yeah, I think, for communicating with each other, we really only stick to three different tools.

Chris: Yeah. Slack, obviously. I wouldn't even say obviously anymore because it's starting to be like - I don't know - a lot of teams used Discord. Maybe we'll end up there at some point.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: It's less obvious, I guess, but we use Slack for now. I think it does have kind of the best toolset for it. Wouldn't it suck to switch? You'd have to rewrite all the bots and crap that do stuff with GitHub. It would be a nontrivial switch for us, and Slack is kind of fine, so why would we switch?

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: What else? There's Notion, which we're obviously going to talk about.


Rachel: Yeah. I'd say Slack is for in-the-moment conversations. We are better at shifting our stuff we want to remember to Notion for longer-term information because when we first used Slack, I think we used to make a lot of the decisions in there and assign work in Slack. Of course, the nature of Slack is that that stuff just--

Chris: Whoosh....

Rachel: --goes away. Then you can't remember where it was. You're trying to search to find it. It's really difficult, so we've got better at making more permanent decisions like recording that in Notion.

Then the other tool we use is GitHub, mainly the PRs for code reviews. We do discussions about specific code-related things in GitHub, and we also track our proper bugs, like site bugs we want to fix, in GitHub Issues.

Chris: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Rachel: But as far as feature requests or things we just want to change that aren't necessarily show-stopping issues for the site, we track all that in Notion. We just keep GitHub issues for actual "this needs to be worked on" issues, "the site is broken" issues.

Chris: God, there's been so many phases of that because we used to accidentally have feature ideas in there. I'm sure all teams go through that, and we just don't do that anymore.

Rachel: Yeah. It's just, from an organization standpoint, we just found it too hard to have all of that info in GitHub. When you're in a mode of, "I'm going to fix some issues," it was somewhat overwhelming to go into a list of a hundred things and have to mentally figure out what is actually a bug that should be worked on versus what is, "This would be nice to have."

We put all the "this would be nice to have" in Notion now where they can go into an appropriate table or doc. It's easier to sort that information.

Chris: There's a bunch of more tools that we use. We're not that thick on tools, but there's stuff like Figma and stuff that gets designed in.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: It has a concept of leaving notes in there and stuff. I just left one in there yesterday, and I was kind of like, "I wonder if Klare will actually see this or not. You know?

Rachel: Hmm.

Chris: I kind of bet that she won't because it's not really built for that.


Rachel: The thing I've really noticed about Notion is that, for us as a team, the tool itself is kind of meaningless. The feature set is kind of meaningless. You could have the coolest tool in the world but if people aren't in the habit of using it or enthusiastic about using it, then it's kind of useless. You really need the buy-in from the team to make that tool worthwhile. That's what we've had with Notion, which is unlike anything else we've tried before.

We had Trello, and I can't even remember what we did before that. This is the first tool where the whole team is like, "I'm going to actually use this thing."

Chris: [Laughter]

Rachel: It makes a world of difference. In that respect, if you were to go leave a comment for Klare and you're kind of like, "Does she even check the Figma comments?" that's the zone where this thing isn't that useful for communication. Figma is really useful for us for designing stuff, but we'll more than often embed the Figma doc in a Notion doc and then people will more likely leave comments in the Notion doc - kind of thing - because we're just so used to using Notion for the communication aspect.

Chris: They will definitely see it. They'll almost definitely respond to it. And it's kind of permanent, too.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: It's easier to dig around in there and find it and have context around where that communication happened. Pretty great. Even though I do think that comments and stuff in Notion -- I don't know. I guess I like them, but it's not the top feature of Notion. You know?

Rachel: No, it's helpful. I really, really, really wish that comments in Notion had reactions on them.

Chris: Oh, I could just thumbs up it. Yeah. [Laughter]

Rachel: Yeah. Just to say this is acknowledged because the only way to do that in Notion is to leave another comment with an emoji or something in it.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Rachel: Or, like, "Okay." [Laughter] Some text that says, "I saw this."

Chris: Yeah. [Laughter]

Rachel: I just feel like I wish--

Chris: I can't wait for your next, "I saw this," comment.

Rachel: "I saw this," because otherwise, you're like, "Did they read it?" You feel like you need to put something there to say, "Yes, I saw your comment," because that's what reactions are great for. But anyway -- [laughter] that's the way comments could be better.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah, and then Zoom is mixed in there, too, because of course, we have video calls and stuff, too. I guess that's communication, but everybody knows what that is, and that's very in your face, talky-talky. But yeah, okay. Lots of tools for communication, but really primarily Notion, especially for the good stuff, the really work first, important discussions about what we're doing. That's all Notion, I'd say.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: But less conversational and certainly not real-time.


Chris: Okay. The whole point of this show is about Notion, and we didn't really quite explain what it is. I think there are probably a lot of people that generally kind of get it. Maybe you think of it as a notes app. You could, you know. You could use it as that. You could even use it for free as that, probably. Have your own little personal workspace and just keep notes in there and organize it however you want to.

You have these top-level documents. They have things called a workspace, and that's where all your top-level documents are. But chances are, you're going to have minimal of those and then have more documents that are nested within those top-level documents just because if it encourages anything, I think it encourages that.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: It's not just a flat list of documents. They have some kind of nestedness to them. And a document can be so many things. I think, by default, you just get a cursor, and you type some words.

It supports all the things that something like Microsoft Word would support, like images, headers, bullet points, checklists, and all this stuff. Everything is a block, which is just kind of a concept. You can grab a block and drag it around. You can drag it into columns. You can change the colors. There's probably, what, 20, 30 different kinds of blocks.

Some of them are really just esthetic. One of them, it has a background color on it, some padding, and an icon.

Rachel: Hmm. Like the...? Yeah.

Chris: It's just like, oh, yeah.... It doesn't really do anything. It's just for looking cool.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: That's just a document. Then a block that's a paragraph or a list item or anything can be -- and this is a little mind-blowing -- a whole other document.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.


Chris: How you might go /todolist and get a little checkmark, you could also go /page and, boom, it'll make a whole other page. It's a child page of the one that it's in right now. Okay, that's cool. You start to build this little network of pages. That's just nice for a variety of reasons - organizational stuff.

But there's this other big concept of Notion that just needs to get talked about is the concept of databases, which I feel like is a scary word but just isn't scary - somehow - in Notion, largely because you almost don't actually ever use the word "database." You just use the thing that the database builds and kind of don't care about that.

Rachel: Hmm.

Chris: If you go /table or /board or /calendar, all those things are a database. They're just a different view of a database. If you make a table, and not a simple table -- simple table is a new feature that they just launched that's a literal table, just cells in a table -- this is not that. This is -- I don't know. I don't know how to describe it.

Perhaps the most common thing that we do with it is make a board, which is probably more generally industry-wide known as a Kanban board, like Trello was famous for doing, that is cards. The cards exist in these rows. The rows can be named anything, so if you're planning a project, you might have a row that says tasks not yet started, in progress tasks, and completed tasks. Your team gets together and makes a bunch of cards. People drag them to "in progress" when they're working on them, and they drag them to "complete" when they're done working on them. Ta-da! You have project management software.

Any one of these pages in Notion could be that if you want it to. It's like, "Oh, that's interesting." Every one of those cards then is a document, and that document is the same as any other document that supports paragraphs, columns, lists, call-outs, and all that stuff. It gives you this very loosely structured organizational tool. Then it's on you for you to kind of figure out what would be useful for your team.

Interestingly, just because you made a board -- and remember, I called it a database -- that board can just be instantly -- it has this concept of views. You can view that board as a calendar if you want to. Meaning that each one of those cards then has a data associated with it and it'll plop onto that calendar where that date is. Or you can view it as a list, they call it. There are all these different views.

What's magical about that is that it's all the same data. It's just another view of the same thing. It's just so cool. [Laughter]

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: We use the crap out of that because you can be like, "I want to view this project management board temporarily filtered in this certain way where I'm only viewing some subset of what's there. I only want to look at in-progress cards right now. But I want another view of it that's more wide scoped. I want to see everything. Then I want to see the calendar specific view because I want to see what upcoming dates are."

You're not being destructive with that data at all. You're just adding an additional view on top of that. It's a little stroke of genius, I think, from the Notion gang.


Rachel: Yeah, the nice thing, too, is you save the view, and then it persists for next time. On one table of data, you could have ten different views. It's like, view by I want to see it based on the progress of it. I want to see it based on these tags assigned to it or who the work is assigned to. There are just so many different ways. That's so cool. [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah. It truly is cool. Quite literally useful to us, which we'll get into. I thought it might be interesting. We attempted to explain the "what," in a way, so what do we actually use it for? Can we go down a list of, like, "All right, well, I get what it does. How come it's so locked in at CodePen? What do we actually do with it?"

Rachel: We do a lot with Notion. Our actual workspace is pretty massive. It's got all of our long-term internal documentation, so anything we want to communicate with the rest of the team is in there. That's everything from code through to support and other random sort of things we do as part of the product like this podcast, for example, CodePen challenges, that sort of community management, that sort of thing.

Chris: This very episode that we're doing, there's a parent page called CodePen Radio, and there's a database inside that page that the primary view is in table format that has all the dates of when the podcast is going to drop. It has a title of the episode and who the sponsors are and whether it was published or not. You can open any one of those particular dates and see notes on what that podcast is going to be about. Super interesting.

Then you can just flip that view to a calendar view, if you wanted to, to see it in that format. We don't actually do that because I find the list view actually easier, especially because it's every Wednesday.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: So, calendar view isn't all that interesting. But we'll use the calendar view for upcoming meetings that can be on any day.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: Then the calendar view is actually kind of interesting because you can look at the week and be like, "Oh, there's something on Tuesday and Thursday." You know?

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: Anyway, I didn't mean to take that from you. That's just one example.

Rachel: Yeah.

Chris: CodePen Radio is just one example of many things we do.

Rachel: We do all of our project planning in there, so we have a table, which is usually a Kanban board for each project we run. Often, that might sit in a document with some extra information about the project, like the scope or what we're trying to achieve, some definition of what's going on in that project.

Then we have a master table of all the projects we're working on. [Laughter] We have several layers of tables. There are tables within tables within tables.

What's great about it is that you can zoom out to a bird's eye view of what the plan for us is, like what we're planning on working on right now versus what we're punting on for later. It's all documented and labeled, so we can see what's the status of what we're working on right now (or should be working on right now) and drilled all the way down to the specific project people are on.

At the moment, the whole team is working on the same very large project. But in the past, we've definitely been split up on separate smaller projects, so that's when that overview of all the projects is helpful when you're all off in your own boards. Currently, we're all sort of just jamming on the same massive board for the same massive project. Yeah, Notion is helpful for that, too, because you can split that, what is a huge Kanban board, into several sections. It's been super helpful for project management.

We also do all meeting notes in Notion. We also do our weekly docs, which I'm pretty sure we've done an episode on before, but it's an asynchronous communication way for us all to catch everyone up on what we worked on this week. It's kind of like a weekly standup, but not in Zoom form. It's in document form.

Chris: Right. Right. You have one, I have one, and Alex has one.

Rachel: Yeah.

Chris: Then at the end of the week, we kind of read through it. It's an accountability thing and a chance to tell the team things that you worked on that might have been hidden otherwise.

Rachel: Yeah. Yeah or blockers you've run into, like, "I need help with this," and that sort of thing.

Chris: Right.


Rachel: It's just sort of the thing that would come up in a meeting where you all share your progress. But we've found it's much better to do it in writing than sit around and say it to each other.

Chris: [Laughter]

Rachel: That meeting was getting very long when we were doing that in meeting form, so yeah. We also have our all-important all-hands meeting note document, which is like the all-hands we have once a week. It's kind of the main driver of what we're working on each week and our primary source of decision-making, I guess, for what's happening that week. That document is pretty important because you might forget what was said on Monday morning or Monday midday when we do it, so you can go back and see what was said.

Chris: Yeah. We don't delete a week. We have now years of these documents.

Rachel: Yeah.

Chris: They're dated, and you can see what we talked about this week, but you could see what we talked about 18 months ago on Monday if you want to.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: That probably isn't terribly useful, but it is searchable, too. You can use search to find old stuff or explore old stuff. It serves as kind of a record of what's going on.

We could have an all-hands document where, every Monday, we just delete everything and start typing in the new stuff. But I don't know. I like that we don't.

Rachel: I have found the search, searching of old stuff, useful before when I'm trying to remember a decision that was made or something. Say we decided not to go ahead with something. I'm like, "Why was that?" I find Notion, searching Notion, helpful for that.

Chris: [Laughter]


[Guitar music starts]

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[Guitar music ends]


Chris: We have this evolving ism that's like when we have a meeting or write down notes. We write "decision" in either bold, all caps, colorized, or something. Then say what it was.

Rachel: Yeah.

Chris: If you're ever reviewing that doc, finding those little nuggets are like, "Okay. We decided, so that's that." Not that things can't be undecided or changed or something.

Rachel: Undecided, yeah.

Chris: But at least you can remember that's usually the juiciest little bits of a document.

Rachel: It's kind of crazy how, in the moment in a meeting, you're like, "I'm not going to forget this." Then three days later, you're like--

Chris: Gone! Absolutely.

Rachel: "What happened in that meeting?" But in the moment, you're always like, "This is important and I'm not going to forget what was said here."

Chris: [Laughter]

Rachel: Then you always do, so you've got to write it down. [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I try my best. You know? I like to think I have a pretty good bead on what's going on all the time, but yeah. You've really got to write stuff down.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: It's helpful for different people in different ways. Some people just need this as their second brain, and I don't blame anybody. Writing something down is just the best possible way to keep people on the same page, which is just hard enough even with this tool.

Rachel: Yeah. Yeah.


Chris: Fascinating stuff. There's this idea of favoriting stuff, which I really like because it's this ever-evolving list of things that I'm kind of caring the most about at the moment.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: One particular card might be favorited. This podcast is favorited at the moment, and I'll unfavorite it when it's over because I don't need that one anymore. Kind of like the concept of pins on CodePen, hoping that that feature is similarly useful.

Rachel: Yeah. Things you want to keep close at hand because you're visiting it frequently. Stick it in the favorites and it goes to the top of your sidebar. You can get to it quickly, which it's kind of necessary in a workspace like ours, which is huge. There's so much in there.

Chris: Just big. Yeah.

Rachel: Yeah.

Chris: There are some roles and permissions that I feel like is very well done in Notion. I can invite somebody, even from outside CodePen, to a particular document. Their permissions then percolate to any children pages of that document, which is kind of nice.

For example, we'll use CodePen Challenges. As an example, that's a top-level kind of board on CodePen. If we wanted to invite, say, our BuySellAds or our sponsorship partner to that particular page so they could see what the upcoming months are, just invite them by email, and then they're in. Then they can see that page but no other pages of CodePen. That's kind of useful.

Even within the team, too, I can make private documents and only invite some team members to it or one team member to it if I want to. That's kind of fundamental. I think if it didn't have that, Notion would be crippled, to me, as an app. The fact that they've done it so well makes it very good.


Rachel: Yeah. Although, I just thought of a bug that Dee and I discovered recently to do with permissions. It was a pretty bad one, actually.

When I went to search Notion -- you know when you just search for a page and it comes up with some suggestions?

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Rachel: As to what you might want. It kept coming up with Dee's private docs that were not shared with me.

Chris: Oh, no!

Rachel: Her baby shower invitee list and stuff like that, so it's just like--

Chris: Whoa!

Rachel: I didn't think I could see the document. I don't think I actually clicked on it because I was like, "I'm not supposed to see this. I'm not going to click on it." But it was coming up in my search for things, like, "Hey, do you want to go to this page?" It was so weird.

Chris: Yeah.

Rachel: I was like, "This is bad." [Laughter]

Chris: Oh, my god.

Rachel: I'm pretty sure I sent--

Chris: Like, "Things I need to talk to my therapist about." [Laughter]

Rachel: Yeah, I think sent them a bug report about that. I was like, "Uh, I can see somebody else's private docs in my search. That's not good."

Chris: Yeah. We know about bugs on software.

Rachel: Yes.

Chris: That's kind of our specialty. Good one. Good one. Interesting. Yeah, and the search itself is clearly a work in progress. I can sympathize with that, too. Search is a hard feature to pull off.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: Sometimes it's a little slow. It returns duplicates. It's just a weird experience.

Rachel: It's tricky.

Chris: Yeah. It, for the most part, does the job, though, so thank gosh.

Think of all that. All of our meetings are in there. All of our project management, including just huge, just hundreds and hundreds of tickets, projects, each one of those -- I guess we call it a ticket even though it's really a card, I guess. I don't even know what you call it: individual database entry thing on a board.

But even those have arbitrary metadata attached to them. We'll be like, "Ooh, each one will be assigned to somebody. We'll make priority levels for each one of them so that those can be filtered." Then we even have a sub.

In this latest project, it's so big that there are multiple levels of what slice is it in and what priority in that slice is it and is it blocked by any other tasks, or does it have child tasks because it's too big by itself, so it needs five child tasks and all that. Some of that stuff, you're very good at because it requires some Notion trickery, not just to add a piece of metadata but, for example, you made a fancy one where if a task is a parent task, you made a custom block that would show its children tasks really nicely in the parent task. I literally don't even get how it works, but it's some fancy stuff.


Rachel: Yeah. You can really unlock some cool stuff. You can link to other tables within your doc, but you can create a view for that table just in the doc, so you've created a special view for that table in your doc and you have properties set on that view, which means any time you add a row, (in that view) it will assign those properties. So, you're essentially sticking a row with those properties back in the table. It's hard to mouth blog. [Laughter]

Chris: No, I get it because I just had to figure it out yesterday for a thing.

Rachel: Yeah. Yeah, so for example, if you have a parent task document, which you created, and that has a view of all its children. All its children basically have the property of, like, this is my parent. Any time you add a row in that view, it's going into the main table, like the main database with that information. It's just kind of like you can shortcut your way to adding data with certain properties automatically added to it via that.

Chris: Right.

Rachel: It also displays nicely in the document for you, the information you want to know.

Chris: Yeah, it leverages a couple of interesting features of Notion, one of them being that, yeah, once you have a bunch of filters set up on a table, then hit the plus button at the bottom of that table. It's going to make one that fits the filters that you currently have enabled. Right?

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: It won't disappear.

Rachel: Yeah.

Chris: Yeah, that's very clever. Then, in this case, it was your little repeatable -- I think you're using a template block. The template block, the default is "Show me the child of the current page."

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: Yeah, there are so many tricks you have on that block. I know nobody could follow that. Sorry. That was mouth Notion-ing stuff.


Rachel: Yeah. Well, I feel like the thing about Notion is developers -- which would be a lot of our audience -- who already deal with the concept of databases, once you make that mental connection like, "Oh, this is just a database," you can really get into the nitty-gritty of that sort of trickery.

But what I think is cool, also, is I have a look at the Notion Reddit page, for example, like subreddit, because I just like seeing people's layouts and stuff and cool ideas and stuff because I nerd out on it.

Chris: Yeah. I subscribe to it, too. It's mostly start pages, but once in a while, there's a good tip in there.

Rachel: Yeah. Yeah. Every now and then, there's a cool thing. There are also some Twitter accounts. Basically, they're obsessed with Notion, so they post their Notion tips and stuff on their Twitter account. Sometimes I have a look at those, too.

What's cool is a lot of these people who are into Notion, they're a lot of students and stuff. They're not devs. They don't do development. They've never used a database before in their life. But they understand the concept of relationships and basically database theory because they're using this notetaking app and they've figured out how it all works. That's just interesting to me that people understand databases even though they've never had to use a database, and it's because they're using Notion.

Chris: Yeah. Right. It's like styling your Neopet's page or whatever.

Rachel: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Chris: You're like, you're actually a Web designer now, so.

Rachel: Yeah. [Laughter]

Chris: Enjoy.

Rachel: You're a data engineer now. [Laughter]

Chris: Oh, that's awesome. Yeah. That's the tip of the iceberg. You can write formulas in Notion and all kinds of fancy crap.

I'm in between. You know? Maybe even low on the scale of my Notion nerdery.

Rachel: I would say I think you would know having people in the team who are next level makes you feel like, "Well, maybe I'm not that great at Notion." But I think, across the user base, you're probably in the top 5% of people who know what they're doing.

Chris: [Laughter] Yeah, perhaps. It's been a lot of years.

Rachel: It's just because you work with a bunch of nerds and a couple of productivity nerds who are like, "I'm going to label everything, add ten different views, and figure out the source code to this thing." That's not normal behavior. [Laughter]


Chris: [Laughter] I suppose not. I suppose not.

This last all-hands, I was being annoying about what certain words mean when we talk about them because this new big project has all kinds of -- if we're sloppy about what we call things, even with our voices, it gets confusing during meetings.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: Instantly, we made a glossary of terms, and it's a table on Notion.

Rachel: Yeah.

Chris: [Laughter]

Rachel: Klare was onto it. She was like, "Get the glossary out."

Chris: Get the glossary going. Super useful. Just one example there.

Yeah, it's been so many years that it's interesting. I even have a standing meeting with Klare (at the moment) where we go clean up not all of Notion, but a lot of the big project card stuff because it's work.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: Notion doesn't just immediately impart perfection. You know?

Rachel: Yeah. It doesn't, for example, prevent you from adding a card that basically describes the same thing that two other cards have already been added about. You've got to do that yourself. [Laughter]

Chris: Yep. Yep.

Rachel: There's always information cleanup that needs to be done. Yeah.

Chris: It's tempting. I'm an offender of just being like, "I'm just going to add a card because I like it when people do that. I like that there's reference of what you're doing so that I can look and see what everybody is doing, not just like, "Oh, I'm working on something, but I just didn't make a card."

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: I'm like, "Well, then I don't know what you're doing and I don't know how busy you are."

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: You know? [Laughter] I don't know. I need to know stuff like that, so make the stupid card. You know?

Rachel: Yeah. It's good to know what people are doing.

Chris: Yeah. Or if I have some ideas, or I'm like, "Oh, there's this little -- I've unlocked this little hive of work, so we've got to think about this. We've got to think about this and this." A card, in our world, can even be "decide on" or "talk about" or be phrased in a question and stuff. We try to rein it in because it can get a little -- I don't want it to get too sloppy. But having a card that says, "Decide on X," or something is not.

Rachel: Yeah.

Chris: That's fine.


Rachel: I think that's helpful because otherwise, you're sort of walking around going, "Oh, I really need to talk to Shaw about this thing," and it's just in your head. It's there and then somebody else might be like, "What's happening with this thing?" I don't know because they don't know it's sitting in your head that I need to talk to Shaw about X. It's just good to have (on a card), "Let's have a discussion about this," because then it's recorded and everyone knows, "Oh, a discussion needs to happen about this." That's the next step.

Chris: It also doesn't force you to fill out that card particularly well either. Sometimes it's nice just to make the card and title it, but then it's just sitting there. It's like, "Well, dammit." It can be kind orphaned or lost because of how boards are filtered.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: If you just make a ticket and don't assign any of our predetermined important metadata to the card--

Rachel: Labels to it. Yeah.

Chris: --it might just be totally invisible by people. You at least got to give it -- our high-level ones, we've kind of broken the project into groups. For example, client-side work is one big filter.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Chris: If I'm picking a task, I know that I can't write a Postgres migration or some crap.

Rachel: Yeah.

Chris: I don't need to see any of those cards, so there's just "client" and I can look at the client cards. But then if I didn't assign client to the card at all, well, I'm not even going to be able to see it.

Rachel: It's not going to show up for that view.

Chris: So, hopefully, I at least do that. If not also add what slice it's in and give it a priority. Ideally, you add all that crap the second you do it.

Rachel: One bummer about Notion is that one feature I wish they had is they have no ability to set a default value for any of those properties. If you think about a table has columns, it always is empty when you fire up a new one. I'd love to be able to say, "On this table, automatically default to this value," so you know you always have a value in your columns. That would be so good if they could add that. Please, Notion. Thank you.

Chris: I think the alternate there is if you add a filter, then you make a new column. Then it will have whatever the filter had.

Rachel: Hmm. Yeah.

Chris: It's not quite the same as a default value, but it's kind of there. Okay. Well, we can be done talking about Notion now. We use it for all kinds of stuff: meetings, documentation, planning. Yeah.

Rachel: I will just say my most favorite recent development with Notion is the inline linking. When you used to link to another page, it had to be its own block that would take up the entire row. Because of newer tools like Roam, Obsidian, and those, they're big on inline linking, Notion brought that in. It's just so good because, when I'm writing my weekly doc, for example, I can just go, "Oh, I worked on this card," and put an inline link to that card.

Chris: Nice.

Rachel: Then it saves me writing out, "Oh, I worked on blah-blah-blah from this table." It's like, all right, that information is already in Notion. I just want to link straight to it.

Chris: Yeah.

Rachel: That's the best. Love it.

Chris: I didn't even notice. Sometimes I just highlight the words and make it just an href kind of link to it, but that's not quite the same.

Rachel: Right. Yes. Yeah. Yeah, you can do that, too. But now, these days, you can just go square bracket. Hit two of them, opening square brackets.

Chris: What?!

Rachel: Then it will--

Chris: Oh, I didn't know you could do that.

Rachel: Then you could the page in.

Chris: Sick!

Rachel: That's just life-changing stuff.

Chris: I love that. I also really like -- because a lot of times I'll be like, "I did these three PRs this week." But now if you paste the PR link, it turns into what looks like an inline link but it pulls the title of the PR, whether it's merged or not.

Rachel: Stylized. Embed.

Chris: Yeah, it looks awesome.

Rachel: Yeah. It's so cool.

Chris: It also works with CodePen, of course, if you want to drop a CodePen URL in there.

Rachel: Bam!

Chris: Expands perfectly into a beautiful, embedded pen. Thanks, Notion. They did that years and years ago.

Rachel: Hmm.

Chris: Pretty cool. All right, well, I guess that's it. Thanks, Rach, for doing the notes here in Notion. It's always fun. We don't have them as a sponsor this week, but [laughter]--

Rachel: If they want to hit us up, hit us up.

Chris: Oh, yeah. Long time.

Rachel: We love you, Notion.

Chris: Yeah. High-five. See yah.

Rachel: All right. Bye.

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