Notion has been my choice of note-taking/database tool for personal use for over a year now. I keep everything on it, from my study notes to my goals and strategies. The idea is great, I like that I can create pages and switch between them in one app as opposed to writing 100 different documents (with an outdated paper layout) that are hard to organize and store properly. All of that including the fact that I can immediately access Notion on my phone to read or write something down quickly, is why adopting Notion was a no-brainer for me. I also ❤️ the aesthetic and overall design of Notion. However, lately I've been realizing that Notion isn't for me. It's not a productivity tool to me like it is to others. It actually makes me unproductive. The only way I use Notion right now is just to store my data.
For someone like me who is fidgety with their mouse and keyboard, Notion's UX is terrible. Literally doing anything in Notion just feels wrong. The main problem is that Notion is extremely reactive in a bad way, because it's based on a block oriented design, which is a terrible idea in and of itself. I can't even sit and type something out on Notion without getting frustrated. I just want to freely type something without distractions, and worry about the structure later. I don't want a new block to pop up when I go on a new line, it just feels unnatural. It ruins the writing experience. Want to select a section of two different text blocks? Welp, can't do that, Notion just selects both blocks entirely. The experience is actually so bad that I just open up LibreOffice Writer whenever I need to type something out, and then I copy paste it into Notion. Honestly, typing this post on Indie Hackers is a better experience than typing anything on Notion. The blocks of text are also terrible to read. I read texts by selecting them line by line, it helps me follow the sentences while reading, you can't even do that in Notion, as mentioned above, it defaults to selecting entire blocks, or even worse sometimes I accidentally move the entire block somewhere else because of the handle on the left hand-side of each block. There's also the problem with pressing your mouse in any empty area where Notion creates an unintended empty block which you then have to manually delete. The reactivity is pretty much universal as it's built into the foundation. Which means I have the same problems in all the different database views of Notion too. I know you can lock pages which could help with some of the problems here, but it's not a good permanent solution, especially because you have to lock every single page manually without a hot-key.
On Windows 10 I could at least somewhat tolerate these issues because of the native experience of the desktop client. However this has become another major problem with Notion for me since I switched to Linux a while ago: There is no official Notion client for Linux. Notion says they don't want to release official clients to platforms for which they can't ensure the quality. I totally respect that, but unfortunately this has become a total deal breaker for me. I've tried several unofficial packages that were available on the AUR but they either didn't provide the native experience I was looking for, or they were really buggy.
There are also some minor problems that I have with Notion. The first one is that I don't really like the way the database pages look. The properties and comments section can't be hidden with one click, or be hidden by default. You have to hide each property manually for each page. Also I don't even use the commenting feature in Notion at all. The second minor problem is that the databases feel kind of limiting. They get you really far and you can automate some things in Notion, but as someone who has developed software before and designed actual databases it felt a little bit limiting. It's not really that bad, but you can't build too ambitious systems within Notion.
Right now I am looking for an alternative to Notion that's somewhat similar without the issues I mentioned above, but I don't seem to find something that fits my needs. I wonder if there are other people like me who were initially interested in Notion, but experience the same problems as me. Maybe there is a market for it, and it's an idea to build something for this group. I am also considering to develop an app from scratch that will work for me, or maybe just a method of organizing data.🤔 What do you think? Do you agree with my experiences I mentioned in this post? Do you know any good alternatives to Notion? Let me know!