6 min read

Building a productivity system inside Notion

Building a productivity system inside Notion

We all wish to create a productivity system for ourselves. One that helps us track everything, our projects, daily tasks, random ideas, notes and so on.

You probably use many different tools for each one of those.

Danielle from MotionHall, uses just one.


She has built a productivity system for herself, all inside Notion.

Here’s a sneak peek inside her notion dashboard:

Looks beautiful. Doesn't it?
Her tasks and projects (blurred for confidentiality)

Building this system has really helped Danielle organize her life and work. All at one place. By the way, she's has only had this system for 15 months. Before that she used a simple task list to track her work. That was her entire productivity stack. But then she got introduced to Notion Mastery Course by Marie Poulin and it literally changed her life for the better.

In this episode, Danielle shares how she manages to stay productive with her 2 year old toddler, how she systemized sending birthday cards to friends and how it backfired, interesting work philosophies to inspire boldness in team members and how she'd spend an extra hour in her day, if she magically found one.

Let's dive straight in!

Danielle introduces herself

Hi, I'm Danielle Lovell. Presently I'm working as Chief of Staff at MotionHall. We're a predictive software platform for live science companies who target the best partners to get their products to market. What I do as Chief of Staff is basically scaffolding our CEO. So most of my day is spent with commercial organization and our customer success organization.

To put what MotionHall does in simpler words. The medicines that you see in the market are often made by the research of smaller bio tech companies that don't have the infrastructure or the capital to bring that medicine to the market where the patients who need it can get it. So these smaller biotech companies partner with larger pharma companies that help in effective production and distribution of these medicines at scale. MotionHall facilitates these kind of partnerships.

Path to MotionHall

If you look at my linkedIn, you'll go wow she's the Chief of Staff at a live sciences company. But the truth is, I didn't come from a live sciences background. Where I did come from is entrepreneurship. Prior to MotionHall, I was running a consulting company that I started with a friend. We were working with tech companies and helping them understand the needs of their people, building their culture, recruiting, basically everything it took to grow a company. A lot of the work I did there is similar to what I do at MotionHall.

Another company I worked at before MotionHall is Over The Moon Games. It is actually my husband's company. When he was launching, I helped him in the operations part of the business. Also, giving a hand in the PR and marketing for the launch.

I've worked in a wide range of companies. From big organizations to small startups. The thing that remains common throughout is my love for taking in complex information, breaking it down and then finding a way to systemize it.

Systematizing sending birthday cards

One small example of how I like to systematize even the smallest of things is, I found an online software service that sends out birthday cards to your friends if you provide them with all the information. This was a useful service, as I love getting birthday cards and I think it's the same for everyone. But getting the card, writing it and sending it to the friends address is a lot of effort and there are good chances of you forgetting it.

So getting a service to do it for me was my way systemize this whole process. 2020 was the first year I did it and it kind of backfired since it was the pandemic year. But going forward I'll be more mindful of how I use to service and probably schedule it on a quarterly basis and not annually like I did the past year.

A typical day

I've a 2 year old, so my typical day starts when she wakes up and she's an early bird, so usually between 5 and 5:30, if we're lucky 6. My husband and I alternate to focus on her. If she's playing in morning, I get to read a book in the meantime. I rotate between books for work and books for fun.

Around 9 is when she goes to daycare, that's when I start focusing on what there is for the day. My day is a mix of reactive and active work. Reactive in the sense when I'm required in some project and active work when I sit and think what we can systematize and templatize for our upcoming projects.

I tend to do my weekly plans the Thursday afternoon for the next week. Then at the end of each day I try to put down my 2 or 3 big tasks for the next day. The next morning I just check that and start working on the thing that's most important.

Organizing my work & life in Notion

I used to organize my day in task lists but that wasn't really efficient. Now I've started doing that in Notion. I've now built a proper system to track all my projects, atsks and notes, all inside notion.

Thanks to Marie Poulin and her Notion mastery course, my Notion dashboard looks beautiful and helps me organize my day a lot better. Can't recommend her enough.

Productivity with a kid

We've been very lucky to be able to retain our child care even during the pandemic. That has been super helpful for us. My daughter just wants to look at a screen, any of her favorite YouTube channels and she's good with that.

Talking about the mental aspect of productivity. I'll credit my executive coach for this, she's someone I meet on a weekly basis. I just collect all the situations I found challenging or difficult during the week and discuss it with her. She's been of great help for me. I've been working with her for 6 months and she's really exceptional.

Besides that, I allocate some time everyday for social restoration. Me being an extrovert, I need to see and talk to people. Especially during the pandemic, this requires special attention. Just finding different ways to connect with people.

Finding the right executive coach

In my case, most of them came as a referral. So I knew they were good to a certain level. Besides to evaluate for myself, I discuss a problem I'm facing with them to understand how they work around with it. That really helps me understand their process and if it will work for me. Sometimes I just sign a 3 month contract with them, that's a long enough time to understand if we can work together for a longer term.

How to prioritize?

I use 3 buckets for that. What actually needs my attention, what I enjoy doing but doesn't need my attention, and lastly what I don't enjoy doing and it doesn't need my attention. For me, I've found that the things that I enjoy doing, I've the most appetite to do them. I can do those for long periods of time.

The Pyramid of helpfulness

At MotionHall, we use this model called "The Pyramid of Helpfulness". It's basically a model of a pyramid moving from the bottom (level 1) to the top (level 5). It's about how well can you take initiative and complete something on your own. Level 1 is say, I come to you say hey there's a problem, then I go back to doing my work. You identify a problem and you stick on someone else's plate, that's level 1. Level 5 is you find a problem, you identify the cause, you find a solution, then you implement and then finally you inform everyone who's a stakeholder.

That being said, not everyone can be a 5. A new team member who has just joined cannot spot and solve problems on their own. They need support. But as a company we're always trying to help each other move above in the levels of initiative.

The 30% rollback rule

Another interesting rule we follow at MotionHall is we will dedicate 30% of our time working on an initiative that is so bold that it needs to be rolled back. That's our way of supporting people to take bold initiatives. It also helps clearly communicate that the company is fine with you making mistakes that don't harm the main product.

1 extra hour

If I had an extra hour in my day, I would spend it reading. That's something I find hard to find time for with toddler and the pandemic. So I'll spend that hour reading.

How to reach Danielle?

The best way to reach me would be LinkedIn. I use that a lot for work and making connections. Feel free to reach out to me there.