An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review:

Joshua Bergen is a very productive person. His secret is the workspace app Notion. Bergen, a product manager living in Vancouver, uses it to plan trips abroad in meticulous detail, with notes and timelines. He uses it to curate lists of the movies and TV shows he’s watched, and records what he thought of them. It’s also a handy way to keep tabs on his 3D-printing projects, map snowboarding runs, and quickly update his cute list of the funny things his kid has said. It might sound strange, but Bergen is one of a growing number of people using Notion, software intended for work, to organize their personal lives. They’re using it in a myriad of different ways, from tracking their meditation habits and weekly schedules to logging their water intake and sharing grocery lists.

So why has a platform built to accommodate “better, faster work” struck such a chord when there are countless other planning apps out there? Part of the reason Notion has such a devoted fan base is its flexibility. At its heart, Notion is designed to combine the various programs a business might use for functions like HR, sales, and product planning in a single hub. It uses simple templates that let users add or remove features, and remote workers can easily collaborate on notes, databases, calendars, and project boards. This high level of customizability sets Notion apart from other work apps. It’s also what’s made it so popular among people looking to map out their free time. It started to gain traction around 2018 in YouTube’s thriving productivity subculture, where videos of fans swapping time management tips and guides to organizing their lives regularly rack up millions of views.

Since then, its following has snowballed. More than 275,000 people have joined a dedicated subreddit, tens of thousands of users share free page templates in private Facebook groups, and TikTok videos advising viewers on how to make their Notion pages look pretty have been watched hundreds of millions of times. “You don’t have to change your habits to how rigid software is. The software will change how your mind works,” says Akshay Kothari, Notion’s cofounder and chief operating officer. “I think that’s actually been a big reason why you see so much love in the community: because people feel like the things they build are theirs.”

While platforms like Notion are great for people who enjoy feeling organized, spending too much time optimizing and organizing our lives can be counterproductive when we prioritize creating to-do lists over completing the actual tasks on them, says Gabriele Oettingen, a psychology professor at New York University. It’s a phenomenon known as the planning fallacy.

Using Notion to track whether you’re drinking enough water or going jogging, or using it to plan assignments, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re actually getting those things done. “In a way, Notion might help me to get structure, but it might not work to get me going,” she says.