Your Life Hub is Your “Living in the Now” Tool
In this post, I am going to talk more about My Life Hub system than the tool (Notion), but the two are (currently) entwined.
I renamed My Life Handbook (the name it had for almost two decades) into “My Life Hub” because, with Notion, “handbook” seemed like an outdated terminology.
Note: this post assumes that you already use Notion or know about it. It will not explain how to use Notion, but there are myriad tutorials out there to help you get started.
A (Very) Short History of My Life Hub
I discovered Notion in October 2020 via this blog post. At that time, My Life Hub lived in an Excel spreadsheet. I’ve had the Hub in development and constant use for the past 20 years. (20 is not a typo!)
Born initially within a three-ring binder that allowed me to remove and add sheets as my current needs changed, it eventually found its way into Excel, thus becoming more portable.
Over the years, My Life Hub has taken many shapes and it has grown with me.
There were over thirty tabs in the excel spreadsheet at some point. Over the years some got dropped, updated, added, changed. It is my most useful tool, precisely because it is constantly changing.
Once upon a time I stored my medical, banking, and administrative data in the Hub excel spreadsheet as well, but have since (and with the rise of different apps and services) moved that elsewhere. But of course, your Hub can have that anything relevant to your life and lifestyle.
(I made a point of backing up “My Life Hub” at least twice a year, so I have all the old versions stored somewhere, that I may or may not ever look at)
Why Have a Life Hub
The point of having a Life Hub is to have a current, ongoing version of your goals and endeavors.
A Life Hub is meant to be a tool to use daily and therefore it is supposed to contain only the items that are relevant to you at this point in time.
In other words, it is a “living in the now” tool.
(It is not supposed to be a repository of all things you have ever done or things you may do in the future. It is not for storing or archiving.)
And Finally Notion
Once I looked up Notion, I realized that this could finally be the tool where My Life Hub could spread its wings from the confines of Excel. I am always on the lookout for the newest organizing tools but, until Notion, there wasn’t a single tool that could holistically support my Life Hub needs.
Notion is extremely intuitive and there is almost no learning curve. I love the way I can have an unlimited depth to my Notion pages where I can nest everything relevant to one topic and I am absolutely in love with the toggle feature that allows me to quickly ‘hide’ and ‘unhide’ items I am currently working on (or not).
Also, and since I use the free version of Notion, having toggles nested into my pages helps with extraction to PDF which is how I currently backup my Notion pages. In the free version, toggles will extract, but sub-pages will have to be extracted manually, one by one.
The Downsides of Notion
Best to get this out of the way first.
So far, there is only one downside for me. Notion doesn’t work offline, which is one of the reasons I would not recommend it as permanent storage of anything (just an ongoing one).
I regularly back up my pages. I usually extract them as PDFs and just dump them into my cloud and hard drive backups.
If it was a tool available offline, I would happily pay for it. I read that that is in the pipeline at some point, so fingers crossed.
The Elements of My Life Hub
While I hope to write about this more extensively at some point, here is a brief breakdown of My Life Hub elements. Of course, this is just what works for me at this point in time (and after two decades of having a Life Hub), your pages will probably be completely different.
Basically, it starts with my to-do items and the main focus areas I am working on at the moment. The to-dos are hidden behind a toggle, so I don’t have to look at them all the time. It is possible to set reminders in Notion as well, and I sometimes do that, but anything that has a specific due date is usually in My Google calendar and not in Notion.
Then, I have my various pages, some old, some new, where I, over the years, collected different tips and tricks that work for me or that I have personalized to work for me.
In About Me page, for example, I have years worth of health stats that are of no interest to anyone but me, but having them all in one place, help me monitor my progress (or lack thereof). There I also have my Vision Board, Yearly Reflections, Mission Statement and key quotes and messages that are meaningful to me.
The Good Food page holds my favorite recipes, the Yoga page is mainly a collection of links to my favorite yoga videos, while the Healthy Eating Tips page is a collection of tips that resonate with me. I try to only have relevant tips and pages that I actually look at and use frequently.
Moving on, there are my Current Activities and pages related to them and then there are the Learning pages that I may not always use daily, but that I use often.
You get the gist.
Your Life Hub can be anything that you need it to be and what you need it to be will change as you progress and move through your life.
Notion Is Not Your All in One Tool
I don’t try to make Notion (or any one tool) my all-in-one tool. From experience, it is not great practice and there are many amazing tools out there that will do a specific job much better. (like calendars, habit trackers, note-taking apps, web clippers, etc.)
For example, I don’t do trackers in Notion. If I do track a habit, I like to use a phone app.
I don’t use Notion to track my appointments or day-to-day ToDos. I use Google Calendar & Google tasks for that.
Notion web clipper is pretty terrible and you can’t choose what to clip (like you can in Evernote) It will clip entire articles when you just want a paragraph, or if an article is too long or picture heavy, it won’t clip it at all.
For taking notes on the go, I use my good, old, sturdy, never failed me iNotes, etc.
In fact, I have an array of tools that I frequently use that I do not try to link, or sync, or repurpose in Notion.
A Word of Caution – Pretty Templates
Here is a confession. Sometimes, I procrastinate by looking at everyone’s beautiful Notion Templates. I am sometimes tempted to try them out. And in the past, I have. I’ve also tried using widgets, such as Google Calendar or weather forecast, in order to have everything I need at a glance in Notion. I also tried adding GIFs and pretty pictures to my pages. Ultimately, none of it was truly useful.
If you are new to Notion, you will probably experiment with some of it. You will come across beautiful templates that people make and you will be tempted to implement them. Or even buy them, I see more and more of them for sale!
But I find that many templates, while they look beautiful, aren’t seamless and easy to use. It is best to look around and borrow ideas, but ultimately, it has to be useful to you so that you actually want to open it every day.
Also, some of the templates, especially those widget-heavy ones, may look great on your desktop, but they may not be as useful on your phone. And unless you work from home or are in front of your computer a lot, you probably want to make sure your pages are usable on your phone as well.
For example, my pages in the Hub screenshot above, are lined up as they are because they are easier for me to use on the mobile app the way they are. You will figure it out once you start playing around with it.
But remember, it has to be simple in order to be useful.
Noton Sidebar and Favorites
I should mention that the Pages I have in the Notion sidebar are the pages that I use, in some capacity, on a daily basis. (they are linked to My Hub, but are stored in the Sidebar).
And if I am working on other pages that I don’t keep in the Sidebar (that are stored only in My Hub), I “favorite” them for the duration. For example, if I am working on a blog post or an Assignment, etc.
I find that feature really useful and I like to have my Sidebar as distraction-free as possible.
Let me know, do you have a system similar to the Life Hub? How often do you use it?