June 5, 2023

Switching from Notion to Mem

Switching from Notion to Mem

If you're a Notion user, you're part of a big community. Notion is one of the most popular apps for people looking to organize their notes, manage projects, and collaborate with others. But - in knowledge management as in life - sometimes you outgrow something that used to fulfil your needs.

With our new overhaul of imports, making the switch from Notion to Mem is as easy as creating an account with us and making a couple of clicks to move your data into Mem. If you're thinking about migrating your knowledge over to us, here's our quick run-down on how the apps differ in some key areas, so you can decide whether Mem is for you.

Getting started


After creating and customizing your account, you'll land on your Notion homepage for the first time. In the left sidebar, you'll see a variety of tabs that take you to pages where you can curate, for instance, your "Personal Home" view -- with links to "Movies" and "Recipes", "Travel Plans" and "Yearly Goals" -- compile a "Reading List", or compose a "Journal" entry. So if you've got time to invest in building out your Notion dashboard from the get-go, that's no problem. If, however, you want to just start taking notes, you'll need to either navigate to "Quick note" in the left sidebar and hover over "Jot down some text", or find the small "+ New page" link in the bottom-left of the screen. Onboarding material to help you make sense of your new workspace can be found by clicking the question-mark icon in the bottom right of the screen.


After first creating and customizing your account with Mem, you'll be taken to the Mem home screen. Unlike with Notion, there's no need to navigate through multiple pages or tabs to get started, or to spend any time in building out the infrastructure of your workspace - you can start recording knowledge immediately by hitting the "New" button on the top-right of the screen. If you have existing notes in Notion, Evernote, or Markdown, you can move them into Mem by heading to Imports in the left sidebar and importing the relevant files.

You can also set up additional flows for getting information into Mem via SMS, Whatsapp, or Telegram, or email by heading to Flows in the left sidebar and selecting the appropriate tile.

If you get stuck during any of these processes, you'll find our onboarding materials in the bottom right of the screen -- a pop-up highlights the location for you -- which provides you with Mem's keyboard shortcuts, as well as linking out to our Support Center and our Product Updates page, all of which ensure that you're fluent in the language of Mem in no time at all.



Pages are the primary way to capture information in Notion; within a page, you can write notes and documents with text formatting options, embed items like images, videos, webpages, and more. Pages can be organized into collections and databases.

Like many personal knowledge management tools, however, keeping your Notion organized means that you have to make a conscious decision as soon as you've captured a note where it should be stored in your workspace. If you've spent a serious amount of time crafting your dashboard, this might not prove a problem for you, but if you haven't managed to do that yet, or the piece of knowledge you want to save fits into none, or multiple, of your collections or databases, then you're going to need to dedicate some extra thought as to where this new note should be stored. This can be time-consuming and distracting.


Mem is the first self-organizing workspace, designed to prioritize the spontaneous recording of knowledge. That means that once you've finished taking a note, you can simply click out of it, or start creating a new one - no need to spend time thinking about where it needs to be stored for easy retrieval. You don't need to consciously organize anything because our intelligent workspace will proactively surface relevant information when you need it most.

If you have Mem X, the paid tier of our app, you'll also benefit from our Similar mems feature, which makes use of state-of-the-art artificial intelligence to determine which notes in your Mem account are most relevant to the one you're viewing at the minute. This can help you make sure that nothing slips through the cracks on important projects, and to find connections and generate insights between disparate pieces of information across your knowledge base - giving you your next big idea, or saving you having to reinvent the wheel.

For those of you who want to impose a little more structure on your notes, we have Collections: a lightweight and snappy way to manage your knowledge retrospectively, when you already know why a note is important and what pre-existing information in your knowledge that it's most relevant to.



You can search for information in your Notion account from the left sidebar, or with the keyboard shortcut Cmd + P. However, Notion's Search capabilities are limited, and sometimes ineffective. For instance, Notion's search engine cannot conduct refined global searches across all databases at once, meaning that if you don't know the database in which a particular piece of knowledge is stored, you'll have to go through and conduct searches in each database serially. Searching for information contained within tables is also unreliable, and keyword searches often fail to return relevant information that does not mention the keyword directly.


As with Notion, you can search in Mem either by typing your query in the search bar on the top of the screen, or with the keyboard shortcut Cmd+K. However, unlike Notion, Mem's search function is global, returning results across every mem you have created or has been shared with you. Mem X users also have access to our AI-powered Smart Search function, which retrieves results that may not contain the exact search keywords, but are deemed relevant based on semantic and structural characteristics. This allows for more associative and conceptual searching - particularly useful if you're looking for a note for which you don't have effective keywords, like "What's the financial term I learned about in the call with that NFT company?"



If you've used Google Docs - and who hasn't at some point? - you'll find collaboration in Notion pretty familiar. It has a fairly robust infrastructure, with various roles that can be assigned to people within a workspace (workspace owners, admins, members), and various permissions settings (full edit access, comment access, view-only access). While these different levels of access can be vital in many ways -- ensuring confidential information remains private, preventing an avalanche of comments or any unwanted edits of your text -- the downside is that only a workspace owner can add new members to a workspace. That can create a bottleneck when it comes to knowledge circulation, as nobody can view a note unless approved by its owner.

Something else to note is that Notion imposes a 1000-block limit on your free account if you invite a non-Notion-account-having person to join your workspace. So if you want to share your workspace with others, you'll have to upgrade to a paid plan.


Collaboration in Mem is comparatively frictionless. Sharing a mem with an individual or workspace allows anybody within that workspace full edit access, and also gives them permission to share that mem with others outside of that workspace. If you'd prefer to make a mem view-only, you can publish it to the web rather than sharing it directly with someone, and then provide anyone you wish to see the mem with the public link. You can share mems with as many people as you like, as many times as you like, all within our free plan.



You may have noticed that towards the end of last year, several note-taking and personal knowledge managements apps launched AI-assistant add-ons to their products. Notion is no exception. Notion AI promises to "automate tedious tasks", "conquer writer's block", and "augment your creativity", and offers up the following use-cases for the product: analyzing meeting notes to generate next steps, summarizing notes, and surfacing takeaways from research, interview notes, and so on. You can also use Notion AI to edit the length, voice and tone of a piece of text.


With Mem X, the paid version of our app, AI isn't just a bolt-on but the core of the product experience. Mem X users have access to the following AI-fueled features:

  • Similar mems in the right-hand sidebar of each mem that surfaces relevant past mems
  • After connecting your email, AI auto-summarization of long email threads
  • "Mems you may have missed" in your right-hand sidebar in home if you're collaborating in a team of 4 or more people
  • Smart search in search (e.g., searching NFT company will return results about "OpenSea"
  • Smart Write and Edit.

Letting you interface directly with the powerful generative AI supporting our app, Smart Write and Edit helps you craft highly personalized writing that draws on the specific contents, voice, and style of your knowledge base. By combining cutting-edge AI with the information stored in your Mem account, Smart Write and Edit can assist you in generating and editing content that reflects your unique knowledge and style. The more you use Mem to store your notes and writing, the more Smart Write and Edit will learn from your writing style and knowledge base, making it an even more powerful day-to-day tool.

Conceptual approaches


Notion is kind of like a beautiful garden filled with flowers that require a lot of attention to flourish. That garden might be gorgeous, but if you're its caretaker, you're going to be spending most of your time just trying to maintain its appearance. Some Notion users report that they end up spending more time organizing and reorganizing their dashboard than they do using the knowledge stored within it, or get caught up in the endless customization features the product offers.

The key to using Notion effectively is knowing how to use it minimally, and not falling into the trap of procrastination. If you have the self-discipline to be very intentional about how you use it, it might work well for you! But if that's something you struggle with, you might want a tool that offers fewer customization options, or that's more specialized to your needs.


Unlike Notion, which can be overwhelming with its customization options, Mem offers a simple and intuitive interface that allows you to focus on capturing and organizing your knowledge without getting bogged down in the details. If there's one thing new Mem users need to adjust to - particularly coming to our product after using other personal knowledge management tools - it's the maintenance-free aspect of our app. The key to using Mem successfully is trusting the product to surface the right information when you need it, so you can focus on what really matters.


Overall, if you're looking for a streamlined, self-organizing workspace that prioritizes spontaneity and efficiency over customization and self-maintenance, Mem might be the right choice for you. And with our new imports feature, switching from Notion to Mem is easier than ever before.

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