Why You Need To STOP Using Notion For Your Whole Life!

Screenshot of Notion

Everyone’s talking about the amazing Notion. This all in one workspace has 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 significant.

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? 

Of course, you can use the app for free if the limitations on the Personal account don’t bother you. However, to unlock the few features unique to the Personal Pro version of the month, you’ll need to pay $4/month. This is effectively what you’re paying for if you upgrade to the Pro version of Notion.

FeaturesPersonal Personal Pro
Guests5Unlimited
File upload5 MBUnlimited
Version history
Priority support
The Differences Between Notion’s Personal And Personal Pro Accounts

Web-Based Note-Taking Apps Are A Bad Idea

With web-based note-taking apps, you have less control of your data. Why put your notes on the developer’s servers, when so many apps let you store your documents on your device? With native note-taking apps, you have a copy of your notes on your device and you can also back them up to a cloud service of your choice.

Help us petition Notion to give all its users complete control over their notes in the app.

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. Paperless X
This is how secure Notion is. Are you comfortable sharing your whole life (career, financial, travel plans, etc) with Notion?

No End-To-End Encryption

Due to the lack of end-to-end encryption, Notion has access to your notes. They see everything. In good faith, we trust that the employees at Notion who have access to our data won’t abuse it, but why take the risk? If Notion insists on storing our notes on their servers (which they do), they should at least encrypt it.

Painful Exporting Options

Only Enterprise accounts can export all their notes out of Notion in PDF format. PDFs are the universal format for sharing notes between apps. Almost everyone has at least one app that can open and read PDFs. However, in Notion, that option is only available for their most expensive subscriptions. This means your notes are trapped in the app unless you can appreciate Markdown, CVS and HTML formats. 

Export Workspaces In Markdown, CVS And HTML

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.

Export Single Pages, But Without Subpages

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 lets you create notes you can’t export out of the app. 

Help us petition Notion to give us more control over the data we put on their servers.

No Images Exported With Your PDF

Note: you can’t export photos out of Notion. The PDF you export has a hyperlink to the image in your notes (if they are 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 exporting them impossible. 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 by collecting information from across the web and from other apps into their app. However, they have also put considerable effort, if not more, to make sure your information stays on their servers and application. They designed it that way, it’s not a flaw in their coding skills. That should worry you.

Great minds created this app. They know how to simplify note-taking, draw and lock you in. For all our sakes, I pray I am wrong about this. 

No Folders

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 since we’ve been using them for decades.

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.

An all in one workspace sounds fantastic! All your plans, projects, notes and collaborations all in one place. But it’s a sure recipe for disaster, one we are certain can affect any app, especially after Adobe Lightroom permanently deleted user’s photos. All the users who had no backups and kept their photos only in Lightroom lost all their life’s work in seconds. Is that a risk you can take with the notes you’re storing in Notion?

No Backup 

You have one copy of your work on their servers. For normal note-taking apps, you can sync across devices as well as backup your notes in a different cloud service. You could sync via iCloud and have a backup in Dropbox, for example. We crucified GoodNotes for not having an AUTO BACK-UP system for the notes we have local copies of on several devices. Yet we are comfortable with Notion keeping our notes on their servers without any kind of backup? Notion should let its users backup to Cloud services of their choice in readable formats.

Notion Doesn’t Work Offline

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. Paperless X
Taken Feb 13, 2021

It’s not rocket science, an app that works offline will behave the same way whether or not you’re connected to the internet. If I wanted to take notes in Apple Notes, for example, I can just open the app and start typing. I will probably realise I am not online when I want to access those notes on another device. With Notion, when you close the app, you need an internet connection to get it started, which makes sense because it is a web-based app. It’s thus safe to conclude that Notion DOES NOT WORK OFFLINE. Of course, there might be workarounds for this, but those wouldn’t be necessary if it worked in the first place.

Multiple Apps Are Better Than One

When using multiple apps, if one malfunctions you lose a part of your life. If something happens to GoodNotes, I will lose my planners, to Notability – my study notes only.

If you put everything into one application, best pray nothing happens to it or its developers. Any small change in their code or policies can potentially see you lose everything; decades of notes and documents. 

Notion asks you to pay a monthly subscription to add content online (which you have no local copy of or a backup for). Why is no one questioning this?

Paperless X

The Best Way To Use Notion

Find ONE aspect of Notion you like. One or two features in this all-in-one app which you love and use the app for those. Don’t put your whole life into one app and 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’ve even asked us to pay and voluntarily give them our information.

Remember information sells, don’t give yours away for free.

Paperless X

With that out of the way, we’ll be doing reviews of Notion in the future. 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. 

Help us petition Notion to give us more control over the data we put on their servers.

Comments · 20

    1. Agenda is the closest to replicating what Notion does. However, we recommend having multiple apps in a workflow. Not using one app for everything. So, depending on your daily routine, it is better to use a lot of apps (specialist apps) for what you need to do. Like a planning app for your plans, a Calendar app for your meetings and events, a note-taking app for your notes. I hope that makes sense.

  1. I only recently started using Notion and found myself a bit baffled when I read this article.

    Notion doesn’t work offline
    I turned off Wifi on my Mac and was able to both read and create new content in the Notion desktop app. As soon as I went online, the new content was instantly synced to my mobile app.

    Notion is a subscription
    I am using the free tier of Notion which does not require a paid subscription and offers pretty much every feature you would need as an individual user.

    1000 free blocks: ridiculously little
    As the commenter above already pointed out, there is no such limit at the moment of this writing.

    You can’t export your notes out of Notion
    Yes you can, there’s an option for this in the settings.

    No folders in the Notion
    You can nest notes in Notion which not only duplicates the folders paradigm, but goes beyond that.

    Notion is difficult to learn
    The basics are very easy to learn. It’s only when you want to go down the rabbit hole that things are getting more involved, but there’s no obligation to do so.

    Don’t put all your information in one app
    That’s certainly a valid strategy, but not a universal one. There are pros and cons to both approaches and Notion specifically caters to those who made an informed decision in favor of a single application.

    FWIW: I have no affiliation with Notion.

    1. Thank you for your input. I’m about to embark on my notion journey but I am the most concerned about the fact that the data is not end-to-end encrypted. Also, I work across devices, I have heard that notion on iPad and iPhone doesn’t function smoothly. How has your experience been?

      1. The iPad version of Notion is not as amazing as their web app. They are working on it constantly but you will not get the best experience out of the app from the iPad version, especially when you have access to the web-version. The transition might be a bit uncomfortable.

    2. – In Evernote you can freely choose which notes or documents are available offline. There is nothing equivalent in Notion.
      – Folders can be very useful to sort your notes. You would have to use tables for this in Notion. Powerful but fiddly.
      – You can’t use export in Notion to replicate and/or archive your data.
      e.g. you can easily copy tables between Dropbox to Evernote back and forth.
      A table in Notion can’t be copied to other applications.

  2. this is a terrible article. All of your points are really poorly thought out and it seems more of a click bait article. I don’t even think this is sponsored by notion’s competitors since it’s really poorly made.

  3. Notion is ridiculously difficulty to use. I’ve been trying it for a few months now and just can’t understand it. I have just spend a couple of hours creating a template for a work study and it deleted the whole lot. To recover it it asks me to become a paid member. No, too much hype, too little support. Notion is complicated and not easy to navigate at all.

  4. I’ve never thought someone could say that Notion is difficult, all my friends are absoluately in love about how much you can achieve with it (especially as a student).

    To be honest after 3 minutes of using Notion I was in for it and it took me around an hour to look at all “blocks” it allows to create, but there is no much philosophy in how to use it, just hit a ‘/’ at any moment and it literally tells you all it can do.

    There is one caveat definitely “All Notion employees can see your data” thats a huge no, but you can just connect it with google drive via links for those files that require extra security…

  5. Well, I try to find an alternative to MS One Note, Notion looks great. but when I can’t find the offline or server version, I get concerned about data security. Too much private data like passwords, private plans :-ss

  6. You confirmed my concern about the ugly export options. I think Notion is a pleasing interface for note redaction. when I go there, I see the journal of choice (similar to a folder), click on it to see the different page entries and redact. My Workflow would be to use Google Drive as a storage for documents, Notion for note redaction and Keep or some note taking app just for quick notes.

    I don’t like that Notion is doesn’t back up or end to end encrypted. But, As long as I remember not to let my Notion interface get messy and keep sensitive stuff of there I think it will be worth trying it. Maybe Agenda will be better but I gotta say, even if Notion is overkill for my needs, the free version is a pleasant solution for my needs.

    Thanks for the article.

  7. You need an enterprise plan to export subpages (https://www.notion.so/Export-as-PDF-95b4340d2d67446ab6f3002261d7c573).
    I agree with your main point: different apps for different tasks. I personally adopt that philosophy.
    Regarding folders, Bear app is a note-taking app using tags, not folders, to organize your work.
    I use Notion just for its Readwise integration and for saving web pages I’d like to access later.
    A better offline option is Obsidian.md. It doesn’t offer an mobile app yet (it’s coming soon), but you can use it alongside iA Writer for iPad, for example. It’s free and all your notes are stored in your computer.

  8. I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding of Notion as a mere note taking app. Notion is more than that as it allows you to create databases and link things together in helpful ways. I think it has it limits, but I think other systems fail to close the loop in a lot of ways and fracture our data in that keep us from making meaningful connections. I recommend doing a search of August Bradley on YouTube for deep dives on how to use Notion.

Any thoughts? Do tell, do tell!