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Reasons why you should not use notion

Matthew Gira
5 min read

Everyone loves Notion. There are thousands of tweets and posts about how great Notion is, how it’s the best tool for managing a business, and how it can magically solve all of your life’s problems.

However, that’s not the full story.

Notion can be a great tool, especially if you consider yourself a techy, are online all the time, and love having everything in one place. Personally, those are some of the main reasons why I use Notion to manage a lot of my own personal workflows. In a lot of ways, it’s a key part of my personal operating system.

Everyone isn’t techy though and there is one particular feature in Notion that is really lacking. Honestly, if it had this one feature in it, I would use Notion even more.

Before I get to that one feature though, let’s talk about the main reasons why you should not use Notion.

You can’t handwrite in Notion

If you’re someone that loves to handwrite anything: sticky notes, love notes, or just standard meeting notes, Notion probably isn’t for you. You can’t handwrite anything in Notion.

Even if you have an iPad and use GoodNotes, there’s no way to write in Notion. Yes, you could write all of your notes in GoodNotes, make them pretty there, and then import those notes as a PDF into Notion, but that seems worthless. One, it takes a ton of time to manually import everything into Notion that way and two, how many benefits are you really getting at that point? Maybe it’s more organized if you type notes out for other things, but it’s probably best if you choose one way or the other. Don’t have all of these different processes for every little thing in life. Keep it simple!

Now, if you’re debating whether or not you should keep handwriting notes and you keep hearing about how great it is to take notes in Notion, keep this in mind: there’s a lot of data out there that supports that handwriting is better than typing most of the time.

There have been studies by UCLA, Princeton, and Washington University in St. Louis that have shown that handwriting notes helps with memory retention as you’re activating your brain more when you handwrite anything compared to typing.

Plus, you become a better speller because there’s no spellcheck, there’s no notifications that can act as a distraction, and it even helps with motor skills in the long run as you grow older.

Notion doesn’t work well offline

Speaking of being old, back in my day (not really), not everything was online and the ability to be online 24/7 wasn’t always possible. If you don’t have a great internet access all the time when you are working, Notion might not be for you.

Notion essentially requires that you be online for it to work properly. This is because Notion is syncing and saving everything that you’re doing in Notion as you are doing it. Notion currently can’t do those actions if you’re not online.

If you’re like me who has the ability to have a good wifi connection 99% of the time, this isn’t a big deal. Truthfully, I never worry about being offline when I need to use Notion. The few times a year that I do worry about it, I typically just use my phone as hotspot and away we go.

That’s my own situation though and that may not be yours. Maybe you go camping a lot and work while you are camping. Well, if your campsite doesn’t have internet access, Notion won’t be able to join you. Also, if you’re someone that turns off wifi for helping you to stay focused on tasks, Notion won’t work in that instance either.

To get around this, you could always type notes in a different app that allows you to work offline (like Microsoft Word) and then import that information into Notion once you have wifi again, but that seems to defeat the purpose. Similar to how I just talked about with handwriting notes on your iPad, this feels like the cost significantly outweighs the benefits.

Notion isn’t for non-techy teams

The first two reasons on why you shouldn’t use Notion sound like reasons like any old person would make. Well, we’re continue that trend. Notion isn’t for non-techy teams.

If you’re thinking about using Notion with any team you are on, please consider those that aren’t technologically inclined. So, if you have a team member that still uses a flip phone or you notice has struggled even with calendar invites via Google Calendar, you may want to avoid Notion.

Notion is pretty techy and not every team needs all of the customization and intricacies that come with it. There can be a steep learning curve to Notion and it’s definitely a steeper learning curve compared to many other tools.

For example, Notion is much harder to learn compared to a tool like Trello. Trello is as basic as it gets. Almost anyone can create an account in Trello and be using it decently effectively within minutes. That’s not always the case with Notion.

Yes, it can be frustrating and Notion can, heavy emphasis on the can, be simple to use, but in many cases it’s not, especially for those that aren’t very techy. Yes, a tool like Trello is very basic, but it gets the job done for many teams. Especially teams that aren’t very techy.

Notion has a huge lack of automations

My last and most important reason to not use Notion is its lack of native automations. There are no internal automations in Notion currently and if you’re someone that has experience with a tool like Airtable, which has native automations, you know this is a big deal.

Notion does have some native integrations, not automations, such as integrating with tools like GitHub, Slack, and Google Drive, but those aren’t automations, they’re just integrations. These integrations help bring everything to one place which is wonderful and needed, but automations can save so much time if you use them correctly.

For example, you can copy and paste a link from Notion into Slack and see the comments in Notion. That’s awesome and is a great integration. The real value would be if you change a status of a record and have Slack automatically send a message in Slack to a particular person that something is now ready for them. That type of automation doesn’t exist within Notion just yet, but you could set it up via Zapier. It works, but native automations are so much better and cheaper.

Additionally, if you have some more complex workflows, like having a room reservation system for example, you don’t want to run that through Notion. There are no automations to help manage those room reservations including booking times on Google Calendar or Outlook calendar or even just sending confirmation emails if a room is booked. Again, you could build these automations out with Zapier, but that can get pretty complicated and expensive.

Personally, automations are a big deal to me for streamlining workflows and save me a bunch of time on tasks that I hate doing. I don’t want to send more mundane emails or messages if I don’t have to. Automations can be a huge help with that.

Those are the main reasons why you should not use Notion. Again, I use Notion on a daily basis, but that’s because it fits me and my personal style. The reasons I just mentioned don’t really apply to me except for the handwriting notes piece. I do love writing notes on my iPad. However, it’s not a dealbreaker for me. So, decide on what features are dealbreakers for you and try Notion out for 30 to 90 days. If it doesn’t work in that time period, it’s okay to scrap it and go back to systems you know that work. Notion isn’t for everyone even if the rest of the internet says it is for everyone.