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Beyond Notion: Unlocking Productivity with Dedicated Apps



In the realm of note-taking and productivity apps, Notion has emerged as a versatile tool, capable of adapting to a myriad of uses, from task management to note-taking, and even habit tracking. Its flexibility and customization options have made it a favourite among productivity enthusiasts. However, while Notion’s adaptability is its strength, it can also be its weakness, as the level of customization it offers often comes with a need for significant setup and maintenance.

In contrast, dedicated apps, my personal favourites like TickTick for task management, Day One and Daylio for journaling, and Streaks for habit tracking, each offer unique features and a more streamlined experience in their respective areas. These apps are designed with a specific focus in mind, providing efficient solutions to particular needs. Let’s delve into a detailed comparison between Notion and these dedicated apps, exploring their strengths, unique features, and how they stack up against each other. We will look at how Notion can be adapted for task management, journaling, and habit tracking, and compare it with TickTick, Day One, Daylio, and Streaks. The goal is to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of these tools, helping you choose the right tool that fits your workflow and enhances your productivity.


Notion vs. TickTick: Task Management Showdown


Notion, a versatile tool, can be adapted for a wide range of uses, including task management. You can create a workspace dedicated to task management, with individual pages for each project or area of focus. Each project page can host a table listing all associated tasks, with columns for task names, assignees, due dates, status, and priority. You can also create additional pages linked to each task for more detailed information, subtasks, or attachments. Notion’s collaboration features facilitate discussions and provide feedback, while various view options like Kanban, Calendar, and List offer different perspectives on your task list. However, this flexibility comes with a need for significant setup and maintenance.

On the flip side, TickTick, a dedicated task management app, offers a range of unique features designed to make task management easier and more efficient. Its intuitive task creation and organization features allow you to quickly add tasks, set due dates, reminders, recurring tasks and priority levels. TickTick’s smart lists automatically organize tasks based on criteria like due date, priority, or tags, providing a more streamlined task management experience.

The built-in Pomodoro Timer, combined with a white noise feature, helps users stay focused and productive. The habit tracking feature allows users to develop and maintain productive routines. The “Smart Date Parsing” feature automatically recognizes and sets due dates and reminders when you create tasks.

TickTick’s Timeline View provides a visualization chart that displays all tasks in a project in the order they are scheduled. The app on iPhone also provides a variety of stylish and practical widgets that make it very easy to stay on top of tasks & habits. The Eisenhower Matrix feature allows you to categorize tasks based on their importance and urgency, helping you focus more on important and urgent work.

TickTick’s new feature, “Desktop Sticky Notes”, is one of my favourites. It lets you quickly record your fragmented information or pin important tasks on your desktop for easy follow-up and processing. The Note feature is minimalistic, lightweight, and lets you collect information anytime, anywhere, save inspiration and reminders, and deeply integrate with your to-do list and schedule.

So, while Notion’s flexibility allows for a wide range of uses, including task management, it requires significant setup and maintenance. On the other hand, TickTick, with its unique blend of features, provides a more streamlined and efficient task management experience. From location-based reminders, various calendar views, and the Pomodoro Timer, to habit tracking and the Eisenhower Matrix, TickTick offers a comprehensive suite of tools that are challenging to replicate in Notion. Therefore, for those seeking a dedicated task management solution, TickTick stands out as a compelling alternative.


 

Notion vs. Day One and Daylio: Journaling Juxtaposition

Notion, while not a dedicated journaling app, can be used for journaling thanks to its text editor and database features. You can create a system for journaling that suits your needs, and it supports text, images, and other types of media. It’s highly customizable, allowing you to create a journaling system that suits your needs.

Day One, on the other hand, stands out as a dedicated journaling app, designed to make journaling a seamless part of your day. It’s user friendly, allows for offline use, and prioritizes your privacy. Day One offers automatic backups to private servers and a variety of export options to ensure your entries remain yours.

It supports unlimited photos and videos, allowing you to capture memories beyond words. Day One also offers browser extensions for Safari and Chrome, enabling you to save websites directly into your journal entries.

The app encourages regular journaling with features like a calendar view of entries and journal streaks to keep your momentum going. It even automatically adds time, date, weather, step count, and other key data to every entry, letting you focus on capturing your thoughts and experiences.

One of the standout features of Day One is the “On This Day” view, allowing you to revisit past entries, photos, videos, and locations from the same day in previous years.

 

Daylio is a unique journaling app that allows you to track your moods and activities in a quick and simple way. It’s designed to be a self-care bullet journal, mood diary, and happiness tracker all in one. With Daylio, you can create a daily entry in just two taps — pick your mood and activities. The app crunches this data and displays them in stats, charts, and correlations.

It’s not just about logging your moods, but also about understanding them. Adding activities you’ve been doing during the day is also a breeze. You can also add notes and keep an old-school diary. All your entries are safely stored and displayed in a list or calendar view.

One of the standout features of Daylio is the “On This Day” view, allowing you to revisit past entries from previous weeks, months and years. Another unique feature is the “Year in Pixels”, providing a visual representation of your entire year, with each day represented by a coloured pixel that corresponds to your mood.

Daylio also integrates goals into your everyday journaling and supports locking data on the app level by using a PIN lock, fingerprint, or Face ID. Daylio also works offline and your data is stored on your device, giving you full control over your privacy.

However, while it is possible to create a journaling, mood tracking, and analytics setup in Notion, it requires significant time and effort to build and maintain. This is where dedicated apps like Day One and Daylio have an advantage with their ready-to-use, specialized features.

Moreover, the offline capabilities of Notion are limited. It requires an internet connection to sync and access your data across devices. This can be a significant drawback for those who prefer to journal in places where internet access is unreliable or unavailable. In contrast, Day One and Daylio have robust offline capabilities, allowing you to journal anytime, anywhere, and sync your data when you’re back online.

Privacy is another crucial aspect to consider, especially when you’re entrusting an app with your private thoughts and personal experiences. Notion does offer some protections, but your data is stored on their servers, raising potential concerns about data security and privacy. On the other hand, Day One and Daylio prioritize user privacy. Day One provides end-to-end encryption and automatic backups to private servers, ensuring that your entries remain yours. Daylio stores your data on your device, giving you full control over your privacy.

So, while Notion offers a flexible platform for various tasks including journaling, it may not be the best solution for everyone. If you’re looking for a dedicated journaling experience with robust offline capabilities and a strong emphasis on privacy, Day One and Daylio are compelling alternatives to consider.

Apple’s New Journaling App: The New Kid on the Block

Apple’s new journaling app, Journal which will be launched in a few months with iOS 17, allows iPhone users to log their daily activities, thoughts, and feelings. It uses on-device machine learning to deliver personalized suggestions and inspire your journal entries.


 

Notion vs. Streaks: Habit Tracking Face-Off

Notion, with its flexible and customizable nature, can be used as a habit tracker. You can create a database for your habits, add properties for tracking progress, and even create a calendar or Kanban view to visualize your habits. However, like with journaling, setting up a habit-tracking system in Notion requires time and effort. Furthermore, maintaining and updating this system is a manual process, which can be time-consuming.

On the other hand, Streaks is a dedicated habit-tracking app that takes a different approach. It’s less of a tracker and more of a to-do list, with its core value proposition being to help you form good habits. The app does this by having you list down the habits you want to inculcate as tasks in a to-do list. Each day when you perform the task, your streak increases. Over a period of time, this would solidify the behaviour and therefore help you in incorporating new good habits into your life.

One of the standout features of Streaks is its simplicity and focus on habit tracking. Unlike Notion, which is a general productivity tool, Streaks is designed specifically for habit tracking. This dedicated focus provides a streamlined experience for users who want to focus solely on building habits.

Another unique feature of Streaks is its integration with Apple Health. Streaks can automatically track habits related to health and fitness by syncing with Apple Health. This integration allows users to seamlessly track activities like steps taken, calories burned, and mindfulness minutes without manual input.

Streaks also offers an impressive integration with the Apple Watch, which is a significant advantage for users who own one. The Apple Watch app allows you to pull your goals into the complications on your watch faces, making it easy to keep track of your habits throughout the day. This seamless integration ensures that your habit tracking is always just a glance away, making it even easier to stay on top of your habits. Moreover, the Streaks Apple Watch app is designed to be fully functional, meaning you can track your habits directly from your watch without needing to reach for your phone. This convenience can make a big difference in your habit tracking, especially for habits that you want to track multiple times throughout the day.

Finally, Streaks provides an extensive library of pre-built habits to choose from, covering a wide range of categories such as fitness, mindfulness, reading, and more. This feature saves users time and effort in setting up their habits and provides inspiration for new habits to adopt.


 

In conclusion, Notion, with its flexible and customizable nature, can be adapted to a wide range of uses, including task management, journaling, and habit tracking. However, the level of customization it offers often comes with a need for significant setup and maintenance. Furthermore, while it does offer some offline capabilities, they are limited, and in terms of privacy, your data is stored on its servers.

On the other hand, dedicated apps like TickTick, Day One, Daylio, and Streaks, each with their unique features and focus, provide more streamlined and efficient experiences in their respective areas. TickTick stands out with its range of unique task management features, including a built-in Pomodoro Timer, habit tracking, smart lists, and location reminders. Day One and Daylio offer rich journaling experiences with features like mood tracking, analytics, and ‘On This Day’ memories. Streaks, with its simple and intuitive interface, makes habit tracking a breeze, and its integration with Apple Watch is a bonus.

While it’s possible to create similar setups in Notion, it would require a lot of time and effort. Moreover, some features like location reminders in TickTick, mood tracking in Daylio, or the Apple Watch app in Streaks are hard to replicate in Notion.

Therefore, while Notion is a powerful all-in-one tool, it might not always be the best solution for specific needs. Depending on your requirements, dedicated apps like TickTick, Day One, Daylio, and Streaks might serve you better. It’s all about finding the right tool that fits your workflow and enhances your productivity.

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