The Magic Of Linked Databases: Create Context in Your Notion Workspace

The Magic Of Linked Databases: Create Context in Your Notion Workspace

When I first started using Notion, I would create a database on a page and then go ahead and create all the views I needed from the dropdown views menu.

There was a couple of roadblocks with running this way:

  1. You can only view one view at a time.
  2. Views get lost and you tend to stick with just one view
  3. There's a lot of clicking to get what you need - which slows you down. The more clunky things are the less you will use them.

Then, I discovered the magic of Linked Databases

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A linked database will insert an existing database into your page and then you can create a view that is independent of the master database that it pulls from. So instead of just having one database and a dropdown of views, I start adding the linked database to my pages multiple times and creating different views for each. And the magic really started to happen then.

This is how I transitioned my workspace from a bunch of random pages to a network of dashboards that work together. So, I put together four reasons why you should consider transitioning from seperate databases into more of a dashboard model for your Notion workspace.

Think about a dashboard - let’s say Google Analytics. Imagine having to click a dropdown menu every time you wanted to see a different stat. That would be time consuming and can take the context away from what you are looking at. Google Analytics works because you can see how everything is working together in one page.

That is exactly how you want to start building your notion workspace.

Build Dashboards, See Context.

The first reason to use linked databases on a page is that you can see multiple views of a database side by side - this allows for context.

For instance in my library dashboard, I have two views:

  1. In Progress
  2. To Process

The same database inserted on the same page with different views and filters applied.
The same database inserted on the same page with different views and filters applied.

By seeing these two databases next to each other, I can easily see if I've got too many things on the go (this is usually the case), and also if I'm consuming more than I'm writing (because my to process backlog is growing).

Sure I could just switch views in a master database - but seeing the context between those two views spurs me to read AND write more.

Use Less Databases

OK, so the second reason I think linked databases are great is that I actually use LESS master databases. Again, back to the library. I could have built databases for books, podcasts and videos separately. But essentially they are the same type of medium. So I created them into one database, but when I insert them onto the page as linked databases I can choose different properties to show for each.

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The same database is viewed in three different ways on the page

It Makes Data Entry Easier

When you filter a certain linked database, and then you add an entry with that filter on - it automatically adds all the filter items to that record. Less clicking around and tapping on the screen to select what you need.

If I add a new entry to my filtered 'books' database it automatically gets the tag 'book.' I don't have to click in and select the property at all.

Similarly, in my journal, I have a linked database for my journal that is filtered to ‘today.’ When I click new the date is auto-populated to today and I don’t have to worry about clicking into the date field and choosing the date.

It Promotes Workflow

By adding linked databases to your pages you are promoting workflow, rather than just viewing information. Your Notion workspace should work together to promote a good workflow, rather than just being silos of information.

Back to the library example. When I am choosing a new book to read, I go to my books linked database. This lists all the books that are currently parked (basically parked and ready to go).

Because I have inserted the same linked database on the page and have it filtered to 'In Progress'. I can simply drag the book from 'books' into 'In Progress' and it automatically changes the status.

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Once I've finished the book it, I move it from In Progress to 'To be Processed.' Which automatically changes it's status to 'Finished.' You see the workflow happening here from entering a book, to parking it, to in progress, to finished.

The key to productivity is reducing the amount of clicks you have to do and having all your information in view and useable. The same workflow could happen in a single view, by clicking into the record and changing drop downs. But by having it all on one page, you are visually seeing the workflow in action.

I hope I've convinced you to get started using Linked Databases in your notion workspace. It is truly magical and will change they way you work.

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