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An effective Notion workspace is structured enough to keep information accurate and consistent. Meanwhile, it's flexible enough to accommodate evolving content, new users, and changes to Notion itself. It upholds design principles and leverages Notion's advanced functionalities to maximize efficiency and create an intuitive, joyful experience for all users.
The Bulletproof methodology draws from popular productivity systems and leading Notion experts to offer a powerful framework for any Notion workspace. It integrates core principles from PARA, Getting Things Done, OKRs and Pillars-Pipelines-Vaults by my friend August Bradley.
Thousands of Notion users have used the Bulletproof methodology to inform their workspaces, and leading consultants adapt it for their clients. Version 2.0 incorporates the latest product features and novel strategies from vanguards of the Notion community. All the while, it retains the fundamental principles that have made the Bulletproof approach extraordinarily useful from its beginning.
My foremost recommendation for organizing a Notion workspace is:
Among the myriad benefits of this approach:
The Bulletproof Workspace is built on this philosophy.
A top-level page, Vault, organizes your master databases among three sub-pages:
The Buckets page is a database in itself. That database includes the high-level categories of your information. If you're familiar with PARA, Buckets are like Areas.
Relation properties link items in other databases to a Bucket. That allows each Bucket to serve as a dashboard that displays its Resources, Projects, Events and other relevant content.
At work, Buckets are likely to include your internal departments, such as Marketing, Accounting and Business Development. Depending on the nature of your work, each of your clients might also be a Bucket.
A personal workspace might include such Buckets as Travel, Fitness, Finances and Education. Specific hobbies and philanthropic efforts, such as Gardening and Cooking, might also be Buckets.
The Bolts page contains databases that demonstrate and measure progress. They're continuously expanding as you conduct your work.
Those action-based databases typically include:
The measurement-based databases often include:
You might also include timeframe-based databases for filtering and summarizing your information:
Databases within the Bytes page support your work. They include information for reference.
The primary database within Bytes is the Resources database. As often as possible, you store information in Resources, then view it through filters. Among myriad content types, Resources include:
When you have a collection of items with shared properties, it may warrant an independent database within Bytes, particularly if it would be helpful to filter views within Buckets, Projects and other master databases. Brands and Contacts are common examples.
Master databases vary with each workspace. In order of importance, here are those most commonly used and universally applicable:
As described above, your Buckets database is a direct descendant of the Vault page. Its items serve as high-level categories for the items in your other databases. They're like Areas in PARA.
In addition to the aforementioned examples, business Buckets might include Product Development and Strategic Partnerships. Depending on the nature of your work, your individual clients may also serve as Buckets if they have independent Projects, Resources and other information.
A personal workspace might include Buckets for Biking, Home Management or Fantasy Football.
In addition to Relations, these database properties allow you to filter your Buckets in a variety of useful contexts:
Relation properties link the Buckets database to other databases. This allows you to use Buckets as categories and, within each Bucket, display only the relevant items from other databases. Within the Marketing Bucket, for example, you can show only the Marketing team's Projects, Resources, Objectives and so forth. These filtered views are part of the Bucket template.
These databases are commonly related to the Buckets database:
Opening a Bucket displays all of that Bucket's relevant items from other databases. This is accomplished with a collection of Linked Databases, each filtered to show only the items linked to the Bucket via a Relation property.
Rather than assembling these Linked Databases each time you create a Bucket, a Bucket template allows you to generate them instantly.
Using Buckets as an example, here's how to create a database template:
Here are Linked Databases commonly included in Bucket templates:
Typically, you'll access Buckets from the organizational homepage. For the infrequent occasions when you access the database directly, Buckets display nicely as Galleries without a card preview. The aesthetic is particularly strong when you add an icon to each Bucket. Sorting by Category, then Bucket (Title), makes the Gallery easy to navigate
Additionally, keeping a Table view makes Buckets easy to edit.
Like Buckets, the Resources database aligns closely with PARA. As the primary database within the Bytes page, it's a core component of The Bulletproof Workspace. As often as possible, store referential information in Resources rather than independent databases. Among other items, that includes:
When you have a collection of items with shared properties, it may warrant an independent database within Bytes, particularly if it would be helpful to filter views within Buckets, Projects and other master databases.
Brands and Contacts are common examples. Others are user-specific; for example:
If you're thinking Customers is an obvious omission, they'd be a category within Contacts. The same goes for Vendors: they'd be a category within Brands.
The Resources database resides in Vault → Bytes.
In addition to Relations, these database properties allow you to display filtered views of your Resources within helpful contexts:
Relation properties link Resources to other databases, commonly Buckets and Projects, allowing you to display filtered Resource lists within helpful contexts. The Users (Person) property is also useful for displaying relevant Resources within personal dashboards.
Resource templates depend heavily on the nature of your information, but you might consider one for each category, such as a ""Guide"" template. Consolidate information as much as possible, keeping them clean and navigable with Toggle blocks, Table of Contents blocks and child pages.
Resources are typically accessed from filtered Linked Databases within Buckets, Projects, the organizational homepage and personal dashboards. The original database displays nicely as a Board grouped by the Category property, with the Bucket property visible. For easy administration, the standard Table is also a useful view.
A Project is an initiative that's completed through a series of Tasks, typically with a defined outcome and timeline. That makes Projects parents of Tasks: each Task is linked to its respective Project via a Relation property. This relationship allows you to open a Project to view and manage its Tasks.
The Projects database is stored in Vault → Bolts.
In addition to Relations, these database properties help you manage your Projects efficiently and effectively, and filter them within helpful contexts:
Relation properties link Projects to other databases, allowing you to display related items within each Project's page, such as its Tasks, Resources and Meetings & Events. These relationships also allow you to display filtered Project lists within contextual dashboards.
These databases are commonly related to Projects:
Similar to your Buckets, opening a Project as a page displays a series of Linked Databases, each filtered to show only the items linked to the Project via a Relation property. These Linked Databases are included in a ""Project"" template, created just like your Bucket template.
Here are Linked Databases commonly included in Project templates:
The Project template also includes a ""Quick Links"" section for Link to Page blocks and Web Bookmarks, as well as a section for high-level notes.
Projects are typically viewed within Buckets, the organizational homepage and personal dashboards. When the database is accessed directly, a Gallery view nicely displays ""Active,"" ""Ongoing"" and ""Planned"" Projects, with the Bucket and Progress properties visible. Additionally, a Table view, sorted by Status, then Timeframe, makes editing all projects easy.
Tasks are the individual steps taken to complete Projects. As the children of Projects, each Task is linked to its Project via a Relation property. This allows you to display a Project's Tasks within its page, as well as calculate its progress.
Tasks are highly distilled actions — the bottom of the hierarchy. Therefore, they have no inner page contents and thus no need for a template.
The Tasks database is stored along with Projects in Vault → Bolts.
In to the Relation property linking Tasks to Projects, these database properties help you manage your Tasks efficiently and effectively en route to completing your Projects:
Tasks are related to the Projects and Meetings & Events databases via Relation properties. This allows you to display filtered Tasks within Projects, calculate each Project's progress, and create action items during meetings.
Tasks are always accessed through Projects, personal dashboards and other useful contexts, thus eliminating any need to create views within the original database beyond the default Table, which is sorted by the Due Date property.
The Brands database centralizes companies, nonprofits and brands of all kinds. Depending on the nature of your work, that might include customers, partners, vendors and manufacturers. Instead of entering a unique employer for each Contact, you choose from the Brands database via a Relation property.
Your Brands database also includes prospective customers, which you can nurture through a sales pipeline.
The Tasks database is stored along with Projects in Vault → Bytes.
In addition to Relations, these database properties help you manage prospects and filter brands within helpful contexts:
Brands are linked to Contacts via a Relation property. If you include clients among your Buckets, you might link those to their respective Brands. For example, link Sweetgreen in Buckets to Sweetgreen in Brands.
A Brand template is typically unnecessary; however, you may choose to create one that displays a filtered view of Contacts via a Linked Database.
Brands display nicely as a Galleries, with the Website property visible and sorted by the Brand (Title) property.
If you utilize the Sales Stage property, a Board called ""Sales Pipeline"" displays your prospects at each stage of the cycle. Easily drag and drop cards to advance them — just like a conventional CRM.
You might also create a Board that groups your Brands by the Category property.
The Contacts database centralizes your individual people. Typically, a person is linked to a Brand via a Relation property, so you can think of Contacts as children of Brands.
Along with Brands, the Contacts database lives in Vault → Bytes.
In addition to its Relation to Brands, the Contacts database generally includes properties common in conventional CRMs:
Contacts are linked to Brands via a Relation property. You might also consider relating Contacts to Projects, which will allow you to display filtered Contact views within Projects.
Contacts contain no inner page contents.
A Gallery, sorted by Last Name, displays Contacts nicely with their Brand, Email and Mobile. Additionally, the default Table, also sorted by Last Name, makes managing Contacts easy.
If helpful, you might add views for specific categories.
Lastly, a view of your team creates a robust Gallery with Headshots serving as the card preview.
The Meetings & Events database centralizes your events of every kind, which you can view in filtered Calendars and other helpful views. Meeting templates help you to orchestrate productive meetings and retain accessible notes.
The Meetings & Events database lives in Vault → Bolts.
In addition to Relations, these database properties allow you to manage and access Meetings & Events intuitively and effectively:
The Meetings & Events database is linked to the Buckets, Projects and Tasks databases via Relation properties. This allows you to display relevant Meetings & Events within each Bucket and Project. Furthermore, you can create Tasks as you assign action items during each meeting.
Meeting templates help you to plan and conduct productive meetings, then hold attendees accountable for their action items. Following the steps described in Buckets, you can create templates for specific meeting types.
The Simple Meeting template uses simple lists rather than Tables. It includes these sections:
The Formal Meeting template includes a section to define the meeting's purpose and uses Tables for more detailed planning. It features these sections:
Like other databases, Meetings & Events are typically accessed within contextual views. For the original database, a List nicely displays each event with its Bucket and When properties visible. A Table makes ease of bulk editing, and a Calendar seems essential; however, it actually makes the titles illegible.
OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) is a goal-setting framework born out of Intel and mainstreamed by Google. Their typically set quarterly.
A single OKR comprises an Objective and multiple Key Results. Just as Projects are parents of Tasks, Objectives are parents of Key Results.
Objectives are qualitative goals. They’re ambitious and inspirational, typically with an achievement rate around 70%. Therefore, OKR scores do not reflect company or team performance.
The Objectives database lives in Vault → Bolts.
In addition to Relations, these properties help facilitate effective OKR management:
Given their parent-child relationship, Objectives are linked to Key Results via Relation properties. The Objectives database is also related to Quarters and Buckets.
Opening an Objective page displays the Objective's associated Key Results via a Linked Database. The Key Results display nicely in the List format, with a Table view for easy edits.
As part of the only element of the Objective template, this Liked Database is easily added to each new Objective.
Objectives display nicely in the Gallery format with the Progress and Quarter properties visible. One view displays current Objectives; another displays all.
Key Results are measurable actions that indicate progress toward their Objective. Each OKR typically includes two to five Key Results.
The Key Results database lives alongside Objectives in Vault → Bolts.
In addition to its Relation to Objectives, the Key Results database contains these properties for tracking progress:
As the lowest level of the OKR hierarchy, Key Results contain no inner page contents.
Key Results are almost always viewed within their Objectives, so a single Table view is sufficient for the original database. A database should never be left unsorted, so the Key Results database is sorted by the Progress property.
Time period databases allow you to view your other databases within windows of time. Most commonly, you can manage OKRs within quarters, but Year and Month databases are also helpful, particularly for managing expenses.
Below, I detail the Quarters database, which you can easily adapt for other timeframes.
Because Quarters help to showcase progress, it lives in Vault → Bolts.
Other than Relations and Rollups, your Quarters database has two properties:
Using Relation properties, link the Quarters database to any databases you'd like to view by Quarter. Objectives are traditionally planned and reviewed by Quarter.
For any of those databases with numeric properties, you might add a Rollup property to calculate the total or average. For example, you might average the Progress (%) properties among the Objectives in each Quarter. That average allows you to create another visual progress bar as your primary Progress (Formula) property.
If you're tracking expenses, you might use a Rollup to total your expenses by Quarter.
Opening a Quarter as a page displays related Linked Databases, filtered to display only the items within the respective Quarter. For example, opening Q4 2020 displays the Objectives scheduled for that Quarter. Objectives display nicely as Galleries without card previews and with the Bucket and Progress properties visible.
Quarters are nicely viewed and easily opened from a Gallery with no card preview and the Timeframe property visible. If you added a Progress property to average your Objectives, be sure to make that visible. A secondary Table view makes administration easy.
Your master databases are most useful when formatted and filtered for contextual dashboards. The templates of your Buckets and Projects databases create dashboards. Additionally, a ""homepage"" offers a high-level perspective and quick access to common items, while individual dashboards tailor information for each team member.
Your homepage displays information that's relevant to, and regularly accessed by, the bulk of your team. That includes quick links to your master databases, along with filtered views of frequented databases.
Your brand name works well for the title. You might also consider ""Control Center,"" ""Mission Control"" or simply ""Homepage.""
For the icon, use your logo, the icon from your website, or a graphic that illustrates the page title.
Your master databases are easily accessible via the sidebar, but homepage links make them even more accessible.
The Frequent (Checkbox) property of your Resources database allows you to indicate which Resources display on your homepage. That Linked Database is a Gallery with no card preview.
You could also create a view for each Category or Bucket, but remember, opening a bucket displays its respective Resources.
The Linked Database for Buckets is a List with two views — one for Clients, the other for Internal Buckets. For each, Buckets with the Archive (Checkbox) property checked are excluded.
Depending on the volume of your Buckets, you may choose to filter for the Frequent (Checkbox) property.
Most teams choose to display active projects, including those ""Ongoing,"" on their homepage. They display nicely as a Gallery with the Progress and Bucket properties visible.
A List displays Meetings & Events ""Within a Week"" of the current date (before and after), with the Buckets and When properties visible.
Some teams choose to boost accountability by displaying their active Objectives on the homepage. Should you choose to do so, they display well as a Gallery with the Progress property visible.
In team workspaces, individuals can have personal ""homepages"" that display only the database items relevant to them. To do so, they can utilize the Me option in filters for Person properties.
Filtered views of the Tasks database display only those assigned to the respective team member. The individuals can customize formats and filters to suit their preferences, but a Table view makes administration easy, including the management of the Do Date property.
A Gallery view of Projects displays active (and ""Ongoing"") Projects where the individual is within the Project Manager or Team properties.
A List view of Meetings & Events displays those where the individual is within the Attendees property. Individuals can filter the List for their preferred timeframe.
Adapted from the GTD methodology, Inbox is a private page for each user, where the individual can record new tasks, notes and reminders throughout each day. At the end of the day, the users can ""clear their Inboxes"" by completing, scheduling and organizing those items.
Adding icons to your primary pages and frequented database items, particularly Buckets, enhances the aesthetic of your workspace considerably. Minimalist, monochromatic collections add an element of elegance and sophistication.
Whether you use Notion's native emojis or an external source, commit to a set and implement it consistently. The Bulletproof template utilizes the Notion Icons tool from Notion VIP.