The All Work Database is a centralized hub for tracking our work in Notion. We use it for projects across all teams and pods.
Why do we track our work?
There are a few reasons that tracking our work is helpful
- Visibility - It should be easy for anyone to determine what their teammates are working on, without having to ask them directly. This can increase productivity, limit unnecessary meetings, and prevent individuals from being stretched too thin. It also makes it easy for others to chime in with thoughts or feedback, without needing to join specific meetings.
- Estimation - Predicting when something is going to be done is difficult if you don't have a clearly defined list of what to do. Breaking a project into smaller parts as a team helps decompose the problem and make it easier to conceptualize how long something will take.
- Completeness - When working on a project with multiple people, it's easy for things to fall through the cracks. If every piece of work is captured, we can determine when a project is "done" and be confident we haven't missed anything
- Database - The original Notion page where all data is stored.
- Record - An individual entry in the database. Also called a "card" or a "row" because of how they look in certain views.
- Property - A column in the database. Each property has a name and a type. All records share the same properties, but they have unique values in those properties.
- View - A slice of the database. These can be tables, boards, calendars, etc. They're often filtered by certain properties.
- Template - A pre-filled record that can be quickly created a modified. This is useful for creating records that typically have the same format or values.
Tips for using the AWDB
When in doubt, make a card
If you're going to work on something for a more than a few minutes, if it's a necessary step in a project, or if you simply don't want to forget it, make a card. You can always modify it later, but making a card is a good first step to getting your work tracked.
You'll find many complex records in the AWDB. Don't be intimidated. Make a card and jot down thoughts. If you need something more structure, you can build on it over time. You don't need to use every property on every record. Just focus on the ones you find helpful.
Epic > Feature > Task
There are lots of "Types" of records in the AWDB. The main ones to keep in mind are these three:
- An epic is a broad theme of work. It typically spans a few months. We honestly don't use it much.
- A feature is typically a few weeks. It's a classic project. This is what most of our "product specs" have been.
- A task is the smallest. It's an individual piece of work. If all the tasks get done, the feature is done!
Filtered views are faster
If you're working on something within your pod or team, start from a filtered view. That helps save time when creating new cards, since the filters will be automatically applied to any new cards you create.
Make changes to the DB itself sparingly
For the most part, we'll keep the AWDB "locked" to prevent accidental changes. Occasionally, you'll want to edit something like a Property. Just keep in mind, these changes affect ALL records. For example, if you delete the "Status" field, it'll remove that property from all records, along with any value that was stored in it.