Notion app 101: TikTok's latest aesthetic craze is this organizing app

Enterprise app Notion has weirdly become TikTok's answer to keeping organized while working and learning from home.

Shelby Brown Editor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
  • She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
Shelby Brown
3 min read

There's a new, fun way to stay organized blowing up online.

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At the onset of the pandemic, neatly organized planners got left behind on office and classroom desks across America. But Gen Z seems to have found an answer to the organizational woes of studying from home in a strange yet aesthetically-pleasing place: A piece of enterprise software called Notion, which offers a digital workplace for taking notes, making to-do lists, creating mood boards and more. Its clean, trendy look and easy setup have made it a new mainstay in TikTok groups for studying, staying organized and cutting out wasted time bouncing between different apps.

After scrolling through social media posts of Notion aesthetics and setups, the appeal is evident. Here's what you should know about Notion, the TikTok communities using the software and how to set it up for yourself. 

What is Notion?

Notion is a minimalist organization tool released in 2018 that you can use on desktop or mobile. Notion gives users an all-in-one workspace for to-do lists, note taking, calendars, time and project management, habit-tracking and more. Notion offers personal-use accounts for free as well as various paid packages for teams and companies. 

With a vast majority of employees and students working and taking classes from home, Notion seems to be getting its moment in the sun -- especially after becoming TikTok's new favorite thing. 

In the hands of Gen Z, Notion seamlessly found its place in the Studyblr, StudyTok (even StudyTwt!) subcultures on social media.

Wait… studyblr?

Studyblr -- a mashup of study and Tumblr -- is an academic subculture with searchable followings and groups focused on organization and, well, studying, found on Tumblr, TikTok (studyTok), Instagram and Twitter (studytwt). Posts include aesthetically-pleasing (often cozy) photos of desk setups, colorful planners, stylistic notes, calendars and more. It's also sometimes referred to as Academia Aesthetic. 

Since Notion is essentially a blank slate, it's easy for TikTokkers to use Notion to show off their personalities by uploading photos, importing fonts, arranging templates and making up color schemes.

Beyond posting photos, some people use Notion to leave links inviting others to digital study sessions on Twitch and free tutoring on Discord.

Users find new study buddies and network by making posts about where they're at in school and what they're studying or interested in. 

How to get started on Notion

If your interest is as piqued as mine was at the prospect of an all-in-one, customizable organization hub, here's how to set up a free Notion account:

  1. Check out Notion's site on desktop, or download the app for Android or iOS

  2. Sign up with Google, Apple or a separate email address

  3. Choose For Myself -- the free version of the software

  4. Click or tap Take Me to Notion

From there, you'll be taken to a Getting Started menu and Notion will give you quick tips to get started with templates. The free version of the software includes templates you can use, add to, edit or delete based on what you're using it for. You can choose from templates like Task List, Journal, Reading List and more. Notion also has a Guides section where you can learn more about customizing your pages for ultimate productivity.

Additionally, you can connect Google Drive, Evernote, Trello and Asana, so everything you need is where you need it to be.

For more, check out how to use TikTok, and the biggest TikTok trends of the last year.