My first digital product goes beyond a simple template and is a complete Notion Starter Kit
While there are so many templates and YouTube videos on how to set up a Life Operating System (LOS), I am convinced that there are always new audiences to reach. In my pursuit of helping others chart their own course through coaching and community feedback, I thought a great place to start would be to productize the Notion Life Operating System I developed over the last few years. Rather than simply give away a template, which often leads people more confused than before, I added in a coaching session and a complete 1-hour video to explain everything in detail. Thus, the first Coursecharter digital product was born as a Notion Starter Kit.
3 features of the CC Notion Product – Image by Author
As you grow, your system will change
I wanted to be transparent from the beginning, I used this setup for a long time for many aspects of my life. However, I have outgrown it. I now have a more fragmented LOS. So why sell something that I do not use as I once did?
The simple answer is because I still believe in it. It is a great starter kit for someone just starting to formally organize their life.
Productivity is a journey of discovery. When I started putting structure in my life to achieve the goals I desired, I had no frame of reference. So I was often swayed by good marketing from YouTubers and software companies. There is nothing wrong with this in the beginning. It allows a period of rapid trial and error.
One of those tools that I caught onto was Notion. It’s slated to be an all-in-one collaboration and tool. I really enjoy the product. I put hundreds of hours into building my system in it. At one point, I thought I would put my entire life into it. However, having this as a goal allowed me to realize the limits of each tool and identify which features I valued more than others.
While I have experience in so many other tools, the template features are top-notch, and it’s the best tool to share these types of ideas. Though I am actually part of the AnyType alpha and am very excited about their strategy on templates and marketplaces, that will be some time away for the general population.
Back to the idea of a starter kit, I believe this system is a fantastic place to start at the beginning of a productivity journey. If you are new to setting goals, maintaining a vision, organizing projects, or want to start your first journal, this system will take you through all those core components. Though I fully expect that you will outgrow the system after a year or so. If you are really pushing your limits, you will want to diversify your landscape of tools. Once you start, you realize how much more you can achieve by pushing the boundaries further.
The tooling and products I have created in my corporate life must largely stay there, and sharing those will have to remain on an alluding basis. The other side, my personal life management, was a different story. Here I can share what has worked for me openly and perhaps even develop it further with others in a community.
I have learned (sometimes painfully) that there is never a silver bullet for a problem. It is often too easy to be swayed into thinking that someone has come up with a clever solution to what you think is an easy problem. However, one exception might be starter kits. Often, it seems difficult for people to start something as broad as ‘organizing your life systematically’, therefore, there can be a silver bullet for a well-defined ‘starter kit’. In that regard, I created this product to target those just starting out organizing their life in a tool such as Notion.
Notion Starter Kit: Selling everything together in one product
Designing work management systems needs to be a continuous experiment. But not so much that the actual goals are overshadowed by running the experiments. In this regard, it is often good to have a ‘starter kit’. A starter kit allows people to establish baseline understandings of how things work and push the boundaries enough to understand what the next version for themselves looks like.
Therefore, I put together all my primary templates used for a baseline LOS I used in a tool called Notion. I dubbed it the ‘Coursecharter’ Life Operating System to highlight that it should allow people to chart their own course, not just follow mine because I sold it to them. I decided this would be the best place to start with a digital product as it is something I know so well. I spent hundreds of hours building it and understand it in and out. The outcomes the system produced are evident in the writing of this article even.
Rather than parsing out various components individually, I decided to put all the core components together and let the user decide what to keep and disregard. Therefore, I put in the four critical elements for getting a LOS off the ground.
CC Notion Promo Image – Image by Author
One of the core modules of any baseline productivity system should contain the vision, mission, and goal setting of your life. This is the highest level of abstraction and should serve as a constant reminder of your ambitions. Unfortunately, I find this is often used in a ‘set it and forget it’ mode. However, any good LOS builds in regular reviews of the planning module, preferably weekly.
This module is the easiest to understand but the most varied in its implementation. For myself, a simple to-do list does not allow me the visibility I want for managing so much work. Therefore, I prefer to build out projects and structure work in groups of activities that push forward an objective. This is the area with the most customization in a system. People have different definitions of ‘visibility, so my hope was that the system gives people a glimpse of what is possible with different rollups and measures to tweak their own after some time.
One of the most popular terms surrounding these types of systems is the ‘second brain’. This is because we (for better or worse) live in a world that is so saturated in data that we need to extend our brains in digital form to ease the cataloguing and regurgitation of information. To this end, a LOS will need a place to store data to be reviewed and learned over time.
Humans retain information best when it becomes relational. So often, when absorbing media or a course, it is not immediately used, but we think, ‘That is interesting, that might be relevant to me at a later date. In this case, the purpose of a ‘second brain’ would be to store that piece of information and promote it again when it is relevant. One way the system tackles that is with an easy catalogue called ‘mind rooms’ that thread through the other LOS modules. So, for example, when you are working on a coding project, the information for ‘Python Data Science’ would be at your fingertips.
The purpose of a review or journal habit in my mind is to grow. The goal is not just to look backwards but to look forward. So a good LOS will implement reviews of the past but always include elements of ‘what needs to be better tomorrow’.
I now do most of my growth work on pen and paper. However, I do augment a daily paper with weekly and monthly digital reviews pretty much exactly as presented in the system. I no longer like putting my true emotion in an unencrypted database, but I know that most do not share the same concern so Notion is a great place to start logging your growth opportunities.
Differentiation: Helping others on their journey
But okay, so I’m selling a Notion silver bullet? A Notion snake oil salesman? I would think not.
The problem I have with templates is that it often implies that the recipient knows how to implement them into their lives. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.
I wanted to make sure that people did not take this as a silver bullet but a jumping-off point for push the boundaries of the system to their own needs. To that end, I decided to offer free coaching to those that purchased the system.
I may open myself up to a ridiculous schedule, but it’s worth it. Some people would say selling digital products is going out on a limb, but offering free coaching alongside it may give the audience an axe to chop the whole tree down that is my social life. However, if my objective is to help those in my community, it is worth the start-up cost.
When recording the hour-long video introducing the system, I showed what it might look like to achieve a ‘Help Others Chart Their Course’ objective. This entailed that I had a ‘Coaching’ Life Theme and created Projects around building a productivity tool system. I did that because it is one of my objectives to coach others based on my own learnings and experiences. I feel this is often missing in these ‘free template’ giveaways, a personal touch. Yes, you can download a template, but if you are selling a Notion starter kit, chances are your customer is a beginner. Beginners need a personal touch more than experts.
So I decided to open the floodgates and offer free coaching to those who bought the system. I would not call them ‘clients’ but instead call them ‘coursecharters’ or those who have made a deliberate decision to chart a new course ahead. I really hope I can build lasting relationships with those who subscribe to these principles.
If you or anyone you know is looking to build a solid foundation on charting their course in life systematically, please share the link below with them!