My Failure to Use Notion to Plan My Life Says A Lot About Me and My Life.

Jason T. Lewis
3 min readMay 23, 2023

After trying Notion for almost 2 years and picking up Thomas Frank’s Notion templates at the beginning of this year, I think I’m going to have to go back to paper planners. This is no slight to Notion or Thomas’s templates; they’re fantastic, but I don’t think my brain can handle the amount of depth and detail. Every time I go into Notion and try to start planning, I reach for a piece of paper and do it there.

My face after trying to organize my life.

I don’t think it’s age. As a GenX baby, I grew up with computers. It’s more about how my head works. I’ve been struggling a lot lately with focus and getting things done, and I’m wondering if the negative ADHD diagnosis I got 10 years ago was wrong. My brain goes all over the place all the time. Only when I’m writing, playing music, or working on a video do I ever get into the “flow state” and stay focused on the task at hand.

The more mundane tasks are almost impossible to stay focused on. If I’m cleaning the house, it’ll take me hours because I’ll stop 100 times to look at the computer or whatever. If I’m rearranging a setup, it’ll take me hours and hours because I get distracted, and I can never get a clear idea of what I’m doing from one point to the next.

I need to learn to be more intentional when I approach these tasks. I need to write down everything I need to do and stay glued to that list. This is one of the aspects of becoming a full-time creator that’s been the most surprising and the most challenging. When I had a full-time job, I made a lot more YouTube content. Why? Because I had less time to do it. It’s kind of like time dilation: the more time I have, the longer it takes for me to get done with a task. And that’s not because I put more work into it, necessarily. It’s because I have more time, and I find it incredibly hard to focus on a task if I have a ton of time to do it.

Notion is an incredible tool, and I’ve watched countless videos by Thomas, as well as Ali Abdaal and many more, about the benefits of growing a second brain and tracking my workflow, but there’s a barrier between me and the digital realm in this case that I just can’t get through. I can carry paper around and glance at it from time to time, but if I use a digital device, I’m more likely to open it up and go down a YouTube rabbit hole or write a long post on a certain social media app instead of identifying and engaging the next thing on my to-do list.

I feel like this is almost a moral failing. I SHOULD be able to do it. It makes sense to me, and the tools are great, but I keep ending up here instead of working on the tasks for the day. So maybe, for me, paper is better. Or maybe I should get a full-time job again so I can get more creative work done. Nah, I don’t think I need to get that drastic yet.



Jason T. Lewis

Jason has worked as a writer, teacher, musician and audio engineer for over 30 years. He make YouTube videos at Painfully Honest Tech. He used to drink.