From Unproductive Mess to Productivity God: The 'Notion' Tool

From Unproductive Mess to Productivity God: The 'Notion' Tool

Unlock the key to productivity with Notion! Join us as we delve into the psychology behind this $10 billion platform that’s revolutionised task management and organization. Explore the ingenious strategy and design that’s built a cult-like following for what started as a simplified note-taking app. All this and more is in the article!

Notion productivity app 

Dive into the Notion craze! 🤓 Discover how this simple app evolved into a $10 billion productivity powerhouse.

Explore its unique design, cult-like following, and the psychology behind its success. Perfect for task management enthusiasts and productivity seekers! 📈✍️


It is no overstatement to say that Notion, a software app, has become the miracle cure for productivity disasters, essentially transforming users into productivity gods. Productivity gurus, influencers, and fans from all walks of life are raving about its seemingly magical powers. But what exactly makes Notion so special? How did a simple note-taking app create a cult-like following and achieve a market value of $10 billion?


The Eccentric Genius of Notion

Ivan Zhao and Simon Last
Ivan Zhao and Simon Last – source:


In the start-up world, the prevalent rule is to dominate a specific niche before expanding, but Notion took a different route. Created in 2015 by founders Ivan Zhao and Simon Last, Notion set out with a daring goal: to replace established tools such as Microsoft Word, Evernote Todoist, and Asana. It may take the form of a note-taking app, to-do list manager, project management tool, and collaboration space, all rolled into one.

However, where other start-ups may just keep adding features to the point of creating a monster app, the Notion founders took a step back. They distilled the central, needed aspects from the major apps out there, removing all unnecessary elements.

Examples include Microsoft Word minus the A4 templates; and a palette limited to only 10 colours. Also, a reductive approach led to a clear, simple solution that users have come to love: Notion 1.0 (2015-2017).



The Psychology Behind The Notion Phenomenon

Notion tool community

Why has Notion sparked spontaneous real-life meetups, an army of ambassadors, and a thriving online community?

The answer lies in three key psychological principles:

1. The IKEA Effect: People attribute great value to what they’ve built themselves. Notion users pour hours into customising their app to perfection. This personal touch crafts an emotional connection with the tool, creating a sense of ownership. It’s a lot like putting together an IKEA bookcase or Lego set—the pleasure is not just in the finished product but in the process of creation itself!


2. Maslow’s Hammer: Named after psychologist Abraham Maslow, this principle suggests that if a man has a hammer, everything becomes a nail. In Notion’s case, the more you familiarise yourself with the tool, the more you attempt to use it everywhere, turning every task into a Notion database.


“Give a man a hammer, and everything becomes a nail. Or, in the case of Notion, give a man this software, and he will try to use it for everything.”


3. The Meta Game: This refers to the supportive infrastructure around the main game, such as forums, tutorial videos, fan-made content, etc. Notion’s community has created a vibrant metagame where users share ‘setups’, sell templates, and even offer dedicated consulting services to other Notion users. This community is contributing to Notion’s rise in popularity and value.


A Profitable Notion

Notion’s business model cleverly builds upon these psychological principles. The “product-led growth” strategy steers clear of employing a traditional sales team to pitch their software to companies. Rather, they allow users to start using the software for free. When these same users later join or establish start-ups, they often bring Notion along, thus spreading its use organically.


“Basically, Notion’s strategy is taking unproductive people, supercharging their productivity, and then selling Notion to the multiple start-ups they initiate.”


The Notion “Cult”

The word ‘cult’ often hints at blind adherence, but the Notion phenomenon is different. It’s a cult grounded in shared interests, a dedication to productivity, and the enjoyment of ‘tweaking’ that more traditional apps do not offer. The real paradox of Notion lies in its ability to transform an unproductive mess into a productivity god. Although you may spend more time customising the system than being productive, the joy it brings and the community it has birthed are priceless (personally, I’m not a big fan of this app, I rather use other more simple solutions).

Are you ready to join the ‘Notion’ revolution? You can start signing up for Notion here.

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Productivity with Notion

Notion, a productivity software programme, has gained enormous popularity and a hefty valuation since its inception in 2015. It successfully consolidates multiple functions typically offered by separate tools: note taking, to-do lists, CRM, and project management.

While generally, startups focus on a specific niche, Notion’s aim was to replace broad tools like Microsoft Word, Evernote, and Asana.

Notion’s unique selling point is its simplicity and customisability, allowing users to build their own templates and systems. This function is tied to the psychological principle named the IKEA effect, where individuals place a higher value on things they construct themselves. Despite seeming to foster productivity, Notion has the paradoxical effect of users spending more time tweaking their system than being productive, referred to as Maslow’s Hammer principle. However, this is not considered negative since the customizability is both fulfilling and fun for users. Notion has also stimulated the creation of a thriving ‘meta game’ ecosystem with YouTube tutorials, template sales, and dedicated companies.

In addition to individuals, Notion is also utilised by both small and large companies. Its growth strategy, dubbed “product-led growth,” involves encouraging individuals to use the software free of charge in the hope they will later introduce it within their business environments. Ultimately, Notion’s ability to simultaneously cater to personal and professional productivity needs, along with its psychological appeal, has contributed to its success.

The 'Notion' Tool