Recently I've been adding linked databases to my notion pages that are literally just for data input. I mentioned this quickly in my last blog on the magic of linked databases, but I wanted to dive a bit deeper into the why and how I do it.
Linked Databases in Notion are basically a way to pull in information from a database stored somewhere else in your workspace and show it in any way you wish.
Some of the linked databases that I have in my workspace are:
- A list of all the drafts and ideas for blog posts in my daily journal to get me in the habit or writing everyday.
- Tasks and projects pulled in to my weekly agenda
- Breathwork and meditation videos library pulled into my daily journal
- Books & articles I'm reading pulled into my focus area dashboard to remind to focus on those things
But apart from just showing information from other databases, I have also been using linked databases for simple data entry. For instance, when you insert a linked database into a page and you filter by some criteria and then you add a new entry - all those criteria are already added.
So if you have a database that requires a lot of clicks and drop downs and checkboxes just to enter something new - this is a great way to eliminate having to do all of that - and just capture the new entry.
I've followed the GTD (Getting Things Done) Methodology for a long time and one of the pillars of GTD is quick capture. Being able to capture things quickly into your system and move on freely. It allows you to keep working, but know that your idea or entry is safe in your system.
The guys over at Asian Efficiency have a great primer on quick capture systems. But let's just say it's the key to any good system. And linked, filtered database views in Notion can make that happen.
Let's look at two scenarios where this plays out perfectly in my notion workspace
Firstly, in my weekly agenda. I have one master tasks database that lives in my notion workspace, but in my weekly agenda I have that linked and filtered four times to show different lists:
- Pillar Tasks
- Secondary Tasks
- Waiting On
- To Delegate
Each of these tasks has a different set of inputs and If I only had one list on the page where I had to write the task, select the type, add it to this week to do, select if it's to delegate or waiting on with a checkbox - that gets annoying & leaves plenty of room for error.
Error is the killer of your system.
But because I have the linked database filtered with all the criteria I need, I simply open the toggle and write the task in. I know that Notion will take care of the rest and it will be there when I need to review it.
Another implementation of this is in my Life OS Dashboard when entering a new day journal entry. I added a linked database of my journal that is filtered to just 'today' view. If it's empty - it means I haven't added an entry today.
As soon as I click '+new' the date is automatically filled in and also because I have it filtered to any entries that link to my 2021 year database entry (that rolls up all my tracking into the year)... that link gets added too.
You see below, that you immediately see it come up into ALL ENTRIES below. Even though it's only adding the date automatically, I still thought this was pretty neat. Cause nobody wants to be clicking in the date box and adding that date manually!
Some of this may seem trivial and you might think.. I'm good. I can enter a date.
But the key to a good system is to make it the simplest it can be to use. That often requires some thinking about the setup, about how you use it everyday.
At the end of the day it's worth it to take some time to do the setup, because it will create longevity in daily usage.
It's truly magic and if you're not using linked databases - this is definitely one reason you should give it a try.
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