4 Beginner Mistakes Most Notion Users Make

4 Beginner Mistakes Most Notion Users Make


Read Time: 4 Minutes

Today, I’m going to show you the 4 biggest beginner mistakes you’re probably making in Notion and how to fix them.

These simple mistakes not only slow you down in Notion, but they prevent you from getting the most out of your Notion workspace.

The good news?

Fixing these things is simple. And it will make every page, every post, and every database much easier to use from now on.

Unfortunately, most people don’t take the time to make these simple tricks.

And, as a result, their Notion workspace gets more cluttered and difficult to use over time until, eventually, they just give up on Notion forever.

Master the Basics & Everything Gets Much Simpler

I get it, Notion can be…confusing.

You try to set up a simple page, but there are so many blocks and features you could use that it gets overwhelming real quick.

Which is why, in this issue, I’m going to teach you the biggest mistakes I made when I started using Notion so you can avoid them altogether.

Fixing these mistakes will help you:

• Learn the basic shortcuts and commands • Structure your sidebar and nest your pages • Unleash the power of databases for visualizing information

When you’re done with this guide, you’re going to be able to hop into Notion and make simple, functional pages that maximize your productivity without all the headache and confusion.

Mistake #1 - Not Learning Keyboard Shortcuts

I’m not even joking when I say: You NEED to learn the slash commands and keyboard shortcuts for Notion.

No, it’s not sexy. But you know what? It saves so. much. time!

Here are a few of my favorites:

• ‘/bulleted list’ creates a bulleted list just like this one out of thin air • ‘/page’ creates a new page • ‘/div’ makes a simple line divider to visually break up content • ‘/date’ lets you create a date or reminder • ‘/breadcrumb’ adds a breadcrumb trail so you can navigate pages easily

There are so many of these that will help you 10x your workflow. It’s one of my favorite things about Notion.Take the time to learn these, as well as a few simple keyboard shortcuts like:

• ‘cmd/ctrl + [’ to go back a page • ‘cmd/ctrl +]’ to go forward a page • ‘: + {emoji name}’ to add an emoji • ‘tab’ to indent and nest content • ‘shift + tab’ to un-indent content • ‘/color’ at the beginning of a block to change its color • ‘shift + up/down arrow’ to expand a selection

And that’s just scratching the surface.To see a full list of all these shortcuts, bookmark Notion’s page on it here and refer back to it as you build.

Or, if you want a condensed and savable Notion page, you can copy my cheat sheet here:


Eventually they’ll become second nature and moving things around in Notion will be a piece of cake 🍰.

Mistake #2 - Not Learning How To Structure & Nest Your Pages

This mistake is by far one of the most common mistakes I see people make, and one that causes a big mess in the long run.

It’s tempting to make every single thing into a new page and to fill up your sidebar with pages so you can see everything, all the time.

But, this will get unruly quickly.

So, the alternative is to learn how create page structures and page systems that make it easy for you to know where a page should “live” inside Notion.

For example, let’s say I’m a student and I want to keep track of my work for all of my classes this semester.

What I could do, and what many Notion novices choose to do, is set up a top-level page (a page that has it’s own dedicated spot on the sidebar) for every class.

It makes it so easy to see each class and click into it, right?

The problem is: now all those pages “live” separately and you will have to go to extra lengths to connect them to each other.On the surface, it’s not that big of a deal.

BUT, the easier and more efficient way to do this would be to create just one top-level page called “School” and nest those individual class pages underneath it.

There are many reasons that I choose to do it this way.

  • It keeps things on the sidebar organized
  • It allows me to create “dashboards” for everything
  • It cuts down on what I call “Notion Clutter” which can quickly get out of hand

Here’s an example of what my sidebar looks like.

The beauty of this is that I can choose to expand my “DASHBOARD” page and see all the sub-pages within it.

But if I’m not using it, I can collapse it and all of those pages go away.

Don’t underestimate the power of a clean sidebar.

Over time, it will literally save you hours.

Mistake #3 - Optimizing Too Much For “Aesthetic”

Look, we all love a good aesthetic Notion page, okay?

One of the best things about Notion is that it lends itself to so much imagination.

However…way too many people make the mistake of opting for an “aesthetic” Notion page that takes hours to set up and isn’t actually practical.

I’m talking pictures everywhere.

Tons of external widgets embedded in the page.

Colors, emojis, and gifs.

The list goes on.

There are 3 key reasons why this kind of Notion build is counterproductive:

  1. It won’t be optimized at every screen size and it’ll look bad in most places (mobile, etc.)
  2. It won’t be as functional if it’s built with tons of widgets and external embeds
  3. Aesthetic overkill can make it slower to build and adapt pages

Again, this is not to bash anyone who likes to do those things.

But for most users, this will eventually become a problem and slow down your workflow.

So what’s the solution?

The way I see it, there are 3:

  • Stick to one aesthetic and try to keep images minimal as they don’t adjust well at different screen sizes
  • Opt for callout boxes and emojis/icons to add aesthetic flair, these are built into Notion and make it much easier to optimize your workflow than external embeds
  • Pick 1-2 main colors for all your icons, backgrounds, and images

And if you’re still set on going ultra-aesthetic, at least make sure the page functions how you want it to before you add all that flair on top


Mistake #4 - Avoiding Databases

Databases were one of the most overwhelming parts of Notion for me when I was a beginner.

All the different properties, creating different views, trying to create templates.

It felt like too much.

But now, I don’t know how I’d live without databases!

Databases allow you to organize and categorize information.

But, they also give you access to one of my favorite Notion features: page templates.

Templates that allow you to create pages that are always structured how you want them with the click of a button.

One of my favorite ways to use this feature is by created templates for all of my workouts so I can create a new workout with all of the exercises included in the page at the drop of a hat:


Not only that, but databases also allow you to visualize information in different ways in different places.

For instance, I like to create “Master Databases” for things like my goals, my content calendar, and my tasks.

Then, I create little “windows” to that information using a linked database that allows me to only show the info I want/need on my dashboard, like this:


Each one of these offers me a little peek into what’s going on in my life without me having to go into each database to see what’s going on.

Learning how to organize views, sort and filter data, and used linked databases is truly a game changer.

That said, I know it can be intimidating to learn.

If you want a quick, 6-minute overview on databases, check out Notion’s intro to databases video here.

Or, if you want a much more robust, 50 minute lesson on all the things databases can do, check out Thomas Frank’s video here.


  1. Learn the /commands and keyboard shortcuts, I promise it saves tons of time
  2. Think through your page structures and nest accordingly
  3. Don’t optimize too much for form over function
  4. Databases are king and they are worth learning how to use well

Want more tips, in-depth tutorials, and templates?

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That’s it for this week.

Stay nerdy my friend! 🤓

- Madison


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