Why Notion Is The Best Productivity Tool [Updated 2021]

Best Productivity Tools

This post on the best productivity tools was first written in 2020. It’s been updated for 2021 to reflect feature and pricing changes and the addition of Monday and ClickUp .

There are a lot of productivity apps on the market. Notion is one of the most popular and flexible tools. It’s an all-in-one productivity solution and it’s simply one of the best tools I’ve ever used.

Notion is incredibly flexible. It can be a writing repository, task management software, a workout calendar, a database, and so much more. Better yet, you can connect your data in each of those projects to each other, so your workout calendar can reference your journal entries.

In 2020 Notion updated their free tier to have unlimited blocks, previously you were limited to 1,000. Now you can use as many as you like.

Here’s a shortlist of some of the best productivity apps, updated for 2021. Click to jump to that section:

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Monthly Pricing Comparison

TierNotionEvernoteTrelloAirtableMondayClickUp
Personal$5$8$12.50$10^$29$9
Pro/Team$10$14$17.50$20^$36$19

^billed annually

Notion vs Monday

Read my comprehensive Monday review.

Notion describes itself as the all-in-one workspace.

Monday is workplace management tool designed to use across multiple people.

Both can do similar things, but the main difference starts with what part of your life the tools are designed to help with. Notion is flexible and can be used to create anything. Monday is only for work.

Read on to see the Pros and Cons of Monday, a price comparison, and learn why Notion is a great free alternative to Monday.

Pros and Cons

Monday Project Management

Pros

  • Unlimited boards
  • 200+ templates
  • 4.5+ star rated iOS and Android apps

Cons

  • No unlimited free trial.
  • Expensive. The cheapest plan is $29/month.
  • Minimum 3 users/month.

Pricing Comparison

Monday Prices 2021

Notion is much cheaper than Monday simply because their pricing begins with only one user. Monday charges you a minimum of three users.

Monday’s goal as a workplace-focused productivity app is to get you and your colleagues to start using it. The faster you invite your colleagues, the better the chances of your usage of the product sticks long term.

While Notion’s Personal plan starts at $5/month, you can easily get by with their Free tier for a long time.

Monday’s personal plan starts at $29/month.

Free Monday Alternative

Notion is the best free alternative to Monday.com .

Here’s some of the cool things you can do:

Because Notion’s free trial includes unlimited blocks and pages, you can create project overviews, timelines, kanban boards, and more. All for free.

Make sure to read my list of 32 free Notion templates.

It also includes up to 5 total guest collaborators in your space. When you’re ready to expand beyond that, it only costs $5/month.

Compare that to Monday’s monthly price of $29 and Notion is a bargain.

Try Monday Try Notion

Notion vs Evernote

Read my full review of Evernote.

Notion used to give current Evernote users $5 in credit to import their Evernotes into Notion, but it seems like they no longer offer that. It was a nice way to entice users over, but by now Notion’s product has matured enough to compete without the incentive.

Let’s compare features, their free trials, and then wrap up with why Notion is better.

Feature Comparison

Notion is a productivity solution, Evernote is a note-taking app. That right there tells you some of the main differences. Here’s a overview of the main features of Notion and Evernote.

Notion’s Features:

  • Unlimited pages & Blocks (new for 2020)
  • Infinite Hierarchy - Pages within pages within pages. Nest to your heart’s content
  • Tables & Databases - Categorize your data exactly how you want, and reference data from other tables or projects
  • Markdown Support
  • Drag & Drop - Drag a box around items and move it around the page, just like an editor.
  • A web clipper browser extension
  • Templates
  • Sync data between devices
  • Native android, iPhone, Windows, and Mac apps.

Evernote’s Features:

  • Handwriting support - Search and categorize your handwritten notes
  • Templates
  • A web clipper browser extension
  • Native apps
  • Powerful integrations

Free Trial Comparison

Both Notion and Evernote are free to use. Notion’s free trial lets you create an unlimited number of blocks. A block in Notion is a piece of content; it could be an image, a paragraph, or a row in a table.

In my experience Evernote gates a lot of their main features behind their paid plans. So you can take notes and create folders, but it’ll pester you to upgrade to a paid plan before you can use it to its full potential.

On the other hand, Notion gives you access to all it’s core features, including unlimited blocks. The main limitation is the number of guests that are allowed to collaborate in your space, and file uploads. Notions' Pro plan has unlimited file uploads (free plan is limited to 5mb for each file uploaded). The Pro plan also has version history, whereas the free plan does not.

Winner: Notion

Why Notion Is Better Than Evernote

Notion is so much more than a note-taking app. You can build an all-encompassing productivity solution for your life within it. I’ve written before about how I use Notion to track my life, and I still use it to track my workouts, catalog my journal, and aggregate my writing. I’m writing this blog post in Notion right now.

I’ve used Evernote in the past and found it cumbersome. Evernote also limits your monthly uploads to 60mb, and your notes have a maximum size of 25mb. You can only sync 2 devices to one account, any more and you have to pay.

Notion lets you add and sync as many devices as you want. They even incentivize you to try their other apps, giving you free credit by downloading a mobile app and sharing content from within the app.

Try Evernote Try Notion

Notion vs Trello

Whereas Evernote is note-taking software, Trello is task management software. Trello is terrible for taking notes, but it’s great for organizing your tasks and to-dos in one centralized place. However, Trello is strictly limited to tasks. It can contain a workout calendar, to-do list, and serve as project management software, but it can’t contain your writing, journal, or a database with pictures and references to other objects.

I’ve used Trello at work as a Kanban board for me and my team. It’s easy to create swim-lanes for To-Do, Doing, and Done. I can easily create new tasks for my team and setup automation rules to tag them in it. It helps me visualize what my team is working on, and I can reprioritize work as needed.

Trello’s Features

  • Task management
  • Automated workflows with rule-based triggers
  • Easy for teams to use and get started quickly and for free
  • Web based, no apps needed

Free Trial Comparison

Both Notion and Trello are free to start. Trello lets you create unlimited personal boards, with unlimited cards and lists. You’re limited to 10mb per file attachment, which is not unreasonable. You can add simple automations and one power-up, which is essentially an add-on or integration with other providers.

I’ve covered Notion’s free trial before so I won’t rehash it in detail here, but you’re now able to store an unlimited number of blocks and pages.

Price Comparison

Trello’s pricing is unchanged from 2020. Business-class plans starts at $9.99/month billed annually or $12.50/month-to-month.

Notion’s personal plan starts at $5/month, or $48/year if you pay up-front. Notion is half the cost of Trello, and way more powerful.

Winner: Notion

Creating A Trello Board In Notion

Creating a Trello board in Notion is super easy since Notion’s team has done all the work for you. All you need to do is create a project, search for Task List, and you’ll get this.

How to Create a Trello Board in Notion

Simple, right? Trello is strictly web-based whereas Notion has cross-device apps and works on the web. Some may prefer working within a browser instead of a standalone app. Personally I prefer having an app because it’s easier to get distracted in a browser. I can open a new tab and navigate to reddit in less than a second, so I’d rather not have that temptation at all by working in a separate application.

Why Notion is Better than Trello

Trello excels at task and project management, which Notion can also do. Notion goes beyond just task tracking with full database support, tables, wikis, docs, and notes.

Can Trello track your workouts in a calendar? Yes.

Can you reference those daily workouts on other boards? No.

Can you write your next novel in Trello? No. Not that I would recommend writing an entirely novel in Notion, but you could. More power to you.

Trello’s features are mostly available within Notion at this point.

Try Trello Try Notion

Notion vs Airtable

This is the closest comparison because Notion and Airtable are very similar. They both have apps and they both work in the browser.

Their aesthetics are very different. Airtable is all colors, and Notion is black and white.

My main complaint with Airtable is that it’s confusing. I was able to get up and running in Notion super-fast with their stock templates doing all the heavy lifting for me.

Airtable also has preloaded templates, I just also found them cumbersome. Switching between views is confusing and the tab system at the top, while reminiscent of a web browser, just does not work for me.

Airtable Tabs Screenshot

Airtable also gates many of their premium features under their paid plan, whereas Notion gives you everything during the free trial.

Notion and Airtable Free Trial Comparison

Notion

  • An unlimited number of blocks (new for 2020)
  • Unlimited file uploads, each must be under 5mb
  • Access to all templates

Airtable

  • 1,200 records per base
  • Total file uploads cannot exceed 2gb per base
  • No access to blocks, which are premium add-ons
  • Access to all templates, some may use blocks that you don’t have access to

Pricing Comparison

Notion’s Current Pricing, Updated 2021. Price is billed annually.

Notion Pricing 2021

Airtable’s Current Pricing, Updated 2021, billed annually.

Airtable’s Pricing 2021

Why Notion Is Better Than Airtable

Notion crushes Airtable on pricing and feature availability during the free trial. Airtable gives you access to the Pro features for 14 days, then cuts you down to their limited free tier. Notion gives you access to everything and just limits how much you can create.

I’ve personally found Notion’s in-app onboarding experience to be cleaner, more intuitive, and easier to get started with. Each tool has a learning curve that will take some time to get used to, but I found Notion’s to be simpler.

I prefer the left-hand navigation in Notion to the tab-based navigation in Airtable. It’s a simple difference but I find Notion’s more natural.

Try Airtable Try Notion

Notion vs ClickUp

Read my full review of ClickUp.

Like Notion, ClickUp is a technology start-up based in California.

Notion’s headquarters is in San Francisco, while ClickUp’s is now located in San Diego.

Both have received venture capital funding. Notion is valued at $2 billion as of April 2020 after a $50 million funding round. ClikcUp is valued at $1 billion as of December 2020 after a $100 million funding round.

Feature Comparison

I cover all of the features in my complete ClickUp review, but here’s a small snapshot.

ClickUp Features

  • To-Do Lists
  • Project Management
  • Docs, Wikis, and Spreadsheets
  • Goal & Time Tracking
  • A generous free plan

Notion Features

  • A fully customizable database able to track your entire life
  • A generous free plan
  • Project Management
  • To-Do Lists
  • Docs, Wikis, and Relation Databases

Monthly Pricing Comparison

TierNotionClickUp
Personal$5$9
Pro/Team$10$19

Both ClickUp and Notion offer solid free plans that are free forever. But there are some key differences.

Notion gives free users access to all features. Notion also allows guest access with up to 5 people on the free plan.

ClickUp reserves some features for paying users, like Unlimited Integrations and Dashboards. Adding guests to your ClickUp account is also only available on a paid plan.

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The Best Productivity App of 2021

Notion beats Monday, Evernote, Trello, ClickUp, and Airtable across the board. Evernote and Trello are very limited apps, good at one specific purpose and terrible at everything else. Airtable is Notion’s closest competitor in the scope of this article, but it still falls short. On pricing alone Notion is half the cost of Airtable, before you factor in all free credit Notion gives you for completing certain tasks.

Give Notion a shot today. The built-in templates are great, and there are tons of other articles on how to setup Notion just the way you want it.

Best of all, Notion doesn’t have an affiliate program. I’m not getting paid to promote Notion. I’m just a guy writing a blog post in a hotel room about his favorite productivity app.

See Also