This is the sixth entry in a series on my Notion architecture for various life management systems. To see the full series, please visit the home page, Productivity In Notion.
I've always been fascinated by numbers and attempts to quantify things. I consider it innate to my personality, for better and for worse. As a kid I was utterly fascinated by the baseball stats in the newspaper each week, and I advanced to building Excel worksheets to track pretty much anything you can think of.
The concept of metrics was a huge part of WeAchieve, and is something I want to see improved within Notion. It is simply a little clunky to work with numeric data in Notion and lacks a bit of flexibility. And it certainly lacks a good way to visualize those numbers if you do get them!
That said, what I settled on for this system was to focus on monthly metrics. These do a fair job of balancing short-term and long-term.
These trends are still in the early phases, but ultimately will provide valuable in seeing how things change over time and motivating improvement. I have some benchmark for this: I've long used monthly running mileage to play some games to motivate myself. Whether the goal is to beat the prior month, beat the same month last year, do the largest total for the year, or hit an all-time high, there's always a target to go for once you have a few months of data.
So what metrics am I tracking each month? Here's the current list:
- Running Miles
- Total Habits Completed - aggregating the habits I try to do each day.
- Published Writing Pieces
- Average Day Rating (I rate each day from -2 to +2)
- Avg. Mental Calm Score (I occasionally assess several characteristics of my life on a 1-10 scale)
- Experiment Points (I give myself points for attempting and completing various weekly experiments)
- Journal Points (I've setup a basic formula that gives some points for journal entries)
Some of these we'll talk about in more detail once I get to other parts of my Notion system, so the details aren't too important. But the main point is that these are all things that are tracked elsewhere in other databases, but are then aggregated and tied into my monthly database.
In practice, this means a lot of databases have a relation to the Monthy table and the month that those entries happen in. Each journal entry, each experiment, each run, each writing piece, and more all have a month linked. Sadly this has to be manually done and can't just be derived from the date, but it's a minor inconvenience.
So what does that mean? When I look up any month, it contains a whole host of information relating to that month:
And a bunch more below it, but you get the point: it serves as a central hub for the things that happened during that month, with metrics to summarize a lot of this data.
I'm sure this whole system seems excessive to some (if the first few posts haven't already given you that feeling). The reality is that Notion makes it about as easy as any system could to enter this data and reduces the cost involved in linking this data together. So to me, these are all things that are already in my head somewhere. Per the Notion Architecture: Memories piece and the idea of a second brain, my pitch would be that writing these things down helps crystallize it in my own head and knowing that it ends up accessible somewhere frees my brain to process other things.
All that said, the beauty of Notion is that you can set up the system so that it works for you. But the monthly database is a good way to link whatever top-level metrics you care about to a common source!