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My Annoyances With Notion

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Table of contents

tl;dr
I maintain a logbook of my issues with Notion, because I do not trust myself to remember why I looked somewhere else anytime.

Notion Feeling Clunky

I was asked to provide some feedback regarding when I feel like using Notion feels slow or clunky
Block and Page complaints
  • Simple Tables are heavily underpowered for me, you can't bulk apply colors, you can't add anything other than text in those boxes (each cell imo should be a block, that I can add images or bookmarks or content of any kind into). I would have expected them to behave like basic tables in craft (you can sort filter them, have dropdowns, but can't have complicated formulas etc) -- so something that can still be represented as a markdown but is actually capable.
  • Workspace buttons: I replicate so many callouts throughout my document, that I usually end up needing to have a page of "templated blocks" that are used on various pages. It would be great if we could add template blocks to slash commands that are available throughout the workspace
  • backlinks are the things i was most excited for, and i used the least in notion - there is no way to see which blocks the backlinks come from, it shows just the pages, the backlinks are not filterable nor editable in-place, and you can't even get a page's backlinks in API
  • there is a single consolidation block in notion (table of contents, which also, doesn't work for headings inside toggles, and if placed inside a toggle, still shows the complete page's ToC) -- which makes it really hard to consolidate stuff for me on pages. There is no highlight, callout consolidation block to, for example, get all highlights from a page.
  • As someone who treats 99% of the things as "tasks"; I wish Notion had the ability to add a checkbox to anything (images, embeds, pdfs, files, web bookmarks). (basically todo block should kinda behave like a callout i guess?)
  • I would really like the ability to have icons inside text (and not needing to resort to emojis). on that note, i would like to be able to add alt text to images and videos (other than captions) for accessibility reasons.
  • synced block content not searchable within a non-original page in Notion when the filter is set to the current page
  • buttons on a "homepage" or "dashboard page" cannot add content to page X, they can only add page Y to database A.
  • i'd love better page mentions for properties, especially rendering @ page X, if it has a date property or person property or status/checkbox property, when mentioned on page, have those be inline and modifiable inline properties. (so checking a box inline would lead to checking the box on specific property)
  • task view in home is a nice thing, but I would really like the option to have checkboxes on page content be visible in one place. this might be less of an issue if backlinks worked by creating synced blocks in page that could be manipulated from the page, so i can @ page X in a todo block and then see all checkboxes there, but that doesn't work
  • more than page preview hover card, it would be helpful to have block mention hover card. i often can get a gist of what the page is about from the name and the cover kinda covers half of the card, but block mentions are usually hidden and it would be nice to hover and see a quick preview.
Buggy UI/UX
  • Cursor placement issues sometimes clicking on the bottom of the page forces the cursor inside the last element if it is a toggle or a callout and I want it to be a new block and there is no way to do that other than press enter, get to next line, press del usually.
  • Tabs cannot be rearranged in the desktop app. I get that it is an electron app, but so is VS code, so I know it is not an electron limitation
  • When I switch to a new workspace on desktop, often the last open page from the previous workspace still shows up on the main content part of the window
  • when you have a link and you hover on it, the popup copy button sometimes is so far that by the time the cursor reaches it, the popup closes. it probably needs the same triangle cursor movement thing that is suggested for sub-menus on navigation bars.
  • I think even basic pencil interactions are broken for iPad. Clicks sometimes do not register. Taps are annoying. It often works in mobile mode when there is no need to. For me, the app is unusable on iPad.
  • shortcuts sometimes work, sometimes they don't. sometimes cmd+opt+m actually asks me to write a caption. sometimes it minimizes the app?
  • can't paste over blocks or paste blocks over selection? I can paste selected text over selected text just fine, but if either of the selections are blocks, it doesn't work.
  • The desktop app at a certain width tries to hide the sidebar if it opens side peek. it causes layout shift.
General UX complaints
  • brown, orange and yellow are too similar in dark mode
  • please remove ai from every context menu for people who are not subscribed to ai
  • checkboxes that align with the general rounded UI in notion please
  • quick add on android would have been awesome if it had an option to add a block to a page rather than adding a subpage with the specified content to a page. on quick add, please let us select values for properties rather than just the title and content.
  • I wish you could favorite pages into teamspace (or create collapsible headers in favorites) -- either works; but that is my usual usecase. Database pages are usually not accessible from sidebar directly unless i favorite them but if I favorite 20 pages, then I cannot find anything, because I am dumb.
  • please switch into insert mode rather than / mode when a new block is inserted. i add a new block, i need to press esc to exit menu then i can start typing 😅
  • Can't select non-contiguous items whether on board or blocks with Cmd+Click
Databases
  • database properties, i wish there was a way to delete multiple multi-select property options at once. and an option to remove multiple properties at once.
  • i feel like dates are the clunkiest elements of notion. there is no in-built date referencer so all the dates are kinda there, but you can't see everything that mentions date X. you need to write them a certain way - 22 jan 2024 doesn't work, jan 22 2024 doesn't? reminders need 3 clicks to happen because you can't write time in the database box (thankfully you can in mentions) -- but reminders still need a click. you can't reschedule items by a day or 2 days or change reminders or snooze them, which i get, but it is just really clunky in my experience.
  • remove duplicate efforts and have some auto-linking for relations mechanism (i.e., if page X from database A in mentioned on page Y from database B, and db B has a relation to db A, auto add page X to the relation)
  • i should not need to write scripts to identify possible duplicates in notion database, and this becomes really hard for something like reference management, because it is hard to know if something was already added or not.
  • my company uses notion and the sprint board template. for the planning meeting, someone has to go and change filters and it is a clunky process htat is frustrating to watch. ideally it should be possible to have a block that feeds into database views, so that you don't need to click around 10 times to get the temp view filter you want.
Speed Issues
  • Page loading is really slow for a database that is not-cached. Slow enough that I sometimes end up clicking the card 4-5 times before it actually opens
  • There is at least a 3s load time on data views I have never opened even if they only have 10 items in view
  • databases are not usable beyond 300 rows imo, they take too long to load, or open, or sort, or filter, and need to be broken down. but because you cannot reference and filter a whole database in formulas (and you need to add all pages as a relation that you want to filter on), you really can't have broken down databases consolidated into one view
  • settings speed - i have been staring at the sites in settings for over 2 minutes now with just the skeleton animation

Manual Drudgery

I was asked to provide some feedback regarding when I experienced any drudgery workflows on Notion and want to automate them
I am thankfully okay with scripting, so I used run a bunch of scripts that do some of this stuff, but they break so often, that I am just using 2 external scripts at the moment:
  1. Quick add to database using AI and Ability to use Requests -- I know you mentioned that that you are from the AI team - so, one of the things I really needed was inferring properties (including title property) -- I run this script here - Use Notion’s Property Description As Text → DB add-itor that uses notion description properties. Similar issue with not having requests access in databases, because I collect academic papers and need to get their bib, abstract etc - I used to do this manually, and I know I do not have the discipline to do this manually, so I ended up adding using a different medium and run a script to fill details in - Notion Reference Manager
  2. I have a hard time working with pds in Notion. And I use them a lot because of course all arxiv papers are in pdf format, and I do not want to clip the complete content into Notion because that heavily clutters search and speed. Instead of being able to do a text drag as a block onto page, that when clicked goes back to the location in pdf, I need to copy paste the text (it never pastes correctly), fix the formatting, write manually the reference to location in the pdf etc.
  3. Issues with relations, and page content. I do a lot of long-form writing in Notion. Notion doesn't really have any consolidation blocks beyond ToC (which is also broken in a way). I can't have bookmarks to places in a notion page that accumulate somewhere. Or I can't have an accumulation block that collects all callouts on page with icon X. So, I usually need to manually collect them all on top of the page for quick walkthrough, leading to me needing to keep the same page open in sidepeek and main content when writing. This is also evident with relations. Given I mostly work with content on page, the amount of drudgery work that I need to do is HUGE.
    The steps I need to do
    Step 1: mention a page,
    Step 2: figure out which database the page is coming from,
    Step 3: notion doesn't auto-add mentioned pages to relations so now scroll to top and add it to relation,
    Step 4: notion doesn't cascade permissions by relations, so now if a project is shared with someone and i want to share the related page, go to the related page and that person as guest.
    Step 5: notion's backlinks show no context and are ineditable in-place, so go to the block that mentioned it, convert it to a synced block, paste the synced block in "backlinked content" section of the page.
    Step 6: notion has no option to collect checkboxes in a page, so if i say, we will implement algo in paper X by 28 jan, and do not want to remove it from context, and KEEP it a checkbox, i go to a project's task page and paste the synced block there too
    Step 7: oh now we want to set a reminder or move the date, it takes 3 clicks to change inline date
    Step 8: notion because it doesn't have a checkbox collector, i need to see them altogether in some place, so i go to todoist and paste this block's link under a task there too.
    Step 9: Get link to the task and write [todoist task] as a child block, paste the link. because i am collaborating with other people, and i do not want them to see unnecessary things (and it is amazing notion allows to set permissions per block), i copy link to block, reformat it to remove page attribute, open link in a new tab, set permission to private for that block.
    Step 10: go back to what i was writing 10 minutes later, and completely lose my flow.