Everyone’s talking about the amazing Notion. This all in one workspace’s got people excited, with good reason. It’s an impressive application. However, no one’s really focusing on the negatives of this app. There is no such thing as a perfect app. Before we review Notion its cons are very important.
Notion doesn’t work offline
The developers of Notion say it does. On a Windows PC, without an internet connection, the application does not load. To access anything online, you must leave the pages open (that means not closing the application at all) when you’re online. The app caches the page for offline editing.
If you close the app, the pages close and you can’t access them offline. You can’t even create a new page offline. To fully function, Notion requires an internet connection.
Notion is a subscription
We don’t like subscriptions. Especially if you have to pay to access your data. That was the main reason we avoided Evernote. Evernote makes you pay to store your documents on their servers, which you can’t download offline unless you pay the subscription. Why not pay for an app that keeps your notes offline, on your device? And backup to a Cloud service of your choice?
1000 free blocks: ridiculously little
Considering that everything you add to your account is a block, the thousand free blocks for the free version are barely enough for anything. If a paragraph is a block, you’ll soon run out of space and will need the monthly subscription to keep adding more notes to your workspace in Notion.
In my account, I have three documents. They have taken up forty blocks already. The content I have created in Notion is very little. It doesn’t fill an A4 page in any note-taking application. But it is already taking up 4% of my free blocks.
What is considered as a block, in Notion?
- A paragraph
- A bullet point, a bullet point!
- An image (understandable)
- A row in a table (not the table, BUT EACH ROW ON THAT TABLE)
- A video
With their definition of a block, it’s not surprising to have 100 blocks in one document, or even a page! Inevitably, the 1000 blocks simply become a seven day trial for most of us. Seriously!!!
Web-based note-taking applications are a bad idea
With web-based note-taking apps, you have less in control of your data. Requiring an internet connection to access your notes, or documents makes no sense. Especially, when there are so many apps that let you store your documents on your device (a local copy of your hard work). You can always back up your notes to a cloud service of your choice. Why is Notion keeping your notes on their servers? You ought to question that.
You can’t export your notes out of Notion
When exporting your entire workspace out of Notion, you have two options on the free account. You can only export a Markdown, CVS or HTML one. How many end-users prefer to export their notes in those formats? How many of us have ever used those file formats for reading content they created (that wasn’t originally created in that format)? PDF (a format recognised even by two-year-olds) is reserved for enterprise accounts only! Notion is a joke.
I exported my workspace from Notion. Firstly, as a Markdown and CVS. The application exported twenty-seven pages! How do three pages translate to twenty-seven? I get the same number of pages when I export in HTML format. The app creates a useless copy of the export file on your PC and sends you a zipped file to your email. Massive inconvenience! The files I exported look nothing like what I had created in Notion. The HTML format might be useful for me, as a blogger. Even that proved to be challenging.
Bright side: you can export individual pages as PDFs, with specific paper sizes (though the choices are limited). But to export subpages, you need the Enterprise subscription. Notion allows you to create something you can’t export out of the app.
Note: you can’t export photos out of Notion. The PDF you export has a hyperlink to the image in your notes (if they were in a gallery view). They (Notion developers) didn’t even think of exporting each image as a single page.
Notion makes creating notes a piece of cake. But, they’ve also made it impossible to export anything out of the application. Question that! If you ever want to export anything out of Notion: you will suffer! If you like #sufferlife, you will enjoy using Notion.
Notion has gone to great lengths to ensure you love their app. You can create a lot of things in Notion, collecting information from across the web into their app. But they have also put considerable effort, if not more, to make sure your information stays in their application. They designed it that way, it’s not by default. That should worry you.
Great minds created this app. They know how to simplify note-taking, draw and lock you in. For all our sake, I pray I am wrong about this.
No folders in the Notion
Folder-less they called it as if it’s a good thing. Notion’s marketing team makes every bad feature sound amazing. You will want to buy it. When is lack of folders (or organisation) a good thing? A note-taking app without folders? Unheard of! Most digital note-takers crucify other apps for this!
Notion has a unique approach to organisation. But, let’s stop pretending like they are doing us a favour by not having folders. Folders are easier to understand.
Notion is difficult to learn
Notion has a steep learning curve. It took me about an hour to understand their organisation system. It takes me milliseconds in most apps. To fully get the most out of the app, you must invest time to learn how it works. Our community does not like complex apps. It’s the reason we have such a hard time with ZoomNotes.
Don’t put all your information in one app
It seems we finally have an app that does it all. Question is: should we put our whole lives into one app? The answer to that critical question is: No, you shouldn’t. No matter what the developers say, Notion is not doing us any favours saving all our information on their servers. Notion is asking us to put all our eggs in their basket. Ever heard of the statement don’t put your eggs in one basket? There are reasons for that.
An all in one workspace sounds fantastic! All your plans, projects, notes and collaborations all in one place. It’s a sure recipe for disaster.
Notion doesn’t back up your notes.
You have one copy of your work, on their servers. We crucified GoodNotes for not having an AUTO BACK-UP system, for notes we have local copies on several devices. Yet we are comfortable with Notion keeping our notes online without any kind of backup or local copies?
An all in one workspace is a bad idea
If you put everything into one application, best pray nothing happens to it or its developers. Anything small change in code or their policies can potentially see you lose everything; decades of notes and documents. Why do we love an all-in-one app? Monopoly is terrible; for politics, business or personal growth. I doubt it would be different for note-taking apps.
Notion asks you to pay a monthly subscription to add content online (which you have no local copy or backup for). Why is no one questioning this business model?
Why is Notion putting so much effort to store our information for us? When we can each store our information on our devices? Surely the business model they have chosen is complex and difficult. Imagine if Notability suddenly wanted to keep all your documents on their servers. Good heart? Or bigger business vision we don’t know about yet?
The best way to use Notion
Find ONE aspect of Notion you like. One feature that this all-in-one app has which you love, and use the app for that one, maybe two feature. Don’t put your whole life into one app; question every app that asks you to do so.
We have had issues with Facebook that asked us to put our social lives online. Just our social lives! What do you think might happen when we put our whole lives (business, creativity, diaries, calendars, planners)? This time around, they’re even asked us to pay and voluntarily give them our information.
Remember, information sells these days. Don’t give yours away for free.
With that out of the way, we’ll be doing reviews of Notion in the future. Because at the end of the day, we are here to make sure you find productivity apps that work for you. Notion is a fabulous note-taking app. We hope to help you understand the different ways to use this powerful web-based, note-taking app.