How I Plan My Notion Systems
Do you build your systems without prior planning?
You may be doing yourself a disservice.
Good initial planning is key for successful system building.
That's why I now always start projects by planning things out before sending any quotes to clients.
This saves me time during development and acts as a roadmap (plus tells me whether the project can be done or not!).
I want to show you how I do it so you can start building systems the same way.
But what is "planning a system"?
To me, it's constructing a diagram of all the pieces that will be connected in the system.
In the case of Notion, these pieces are databases, the integral structure.
Deciding which databases to use
How many databases should I use and what should I store in each one?
Our purpose here is to reduce the amount of databases in the system for simplicity purposes.
There are two things I consider here.
- The type of data, which will define the properties it needs.
- Due date, Do date, assignee, source, project, tag, department, send date, signed date…
- The workflows that type of data goes through.
- This is typically a select or a status property with a certain order (aka workflow). For example, projects at a business, or the process that leads go through.
- This doesn't apply to all databases.
If the data needs similar properties and/or goes through similar workflows, I would prefer to keep it all in one database.
This process lets me know which (and how many) databases to use and which ones will be connected using Relational properties.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.
This is the output of this exercise for my latest client.
If you’re curious, I do this on a SuperNote A5X.
Each square is a database. Each arrow between databases, a relational property.
Once the map is complete, we can begin constructing the databases and properties we have defined, which I do all on a single page (then I use linked databases elsewhere)
Following this process has another great benefit: it's much easier to modify the system's structure during the planning phase than after it's been built.
Hope this is helpful whether you’re starting to build your systems or you already have something built but don’t feel the system is working for you.
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