Notion is one of my favorite tools in my productivity toolbox. It is so flexible and using the database functions in Notion really feels like having a superpower. Two of the biggest reasons why it feels this way are relations and rollups. Relations allow you to create a relationship between two different databases. Rollups allow you to derive values from fields in other databases.
To quickly create a relation in Notion, do the following:
- Open Notion to the database you want to create a relation on
- Click the “+” button in the last column of your database
- Click in the text box and type in a name for your relation
- Click on “Text” under “Property Type” and select “Relation“
- Click the “Select a Database” dropdown
- Start typing in the name of the database you want to connect to your database and select it from the drop-down menu
- Click the “Create relation” button to create the relation
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Let’s get started with the tutorial 😀.
What is a Relation?
As mentioned earlier, a relation allows you to create a relationship (hence the name relation) between two different databases. This allows you to reference data from one database and display/access it in another.
Let’s create a relation in Notion.
Open Notion to the Page Containing Your Tables/Databases
The first thing you want to do is open up Notion to the database that you want to add a relation to.
Creating a Relation in Notion
Scroll to the far right column and press the “+” button to create a new column in your database.
Type in the name you want for the column (for our example, we chose “Project”). Click on “Text” under “Property Type” and select “Relation” in the “Advanced” section of the drop-down menu.
Click on the “Select a database” drop-down.
Type in the name of the database you want to connect to and select it from the drop-down list.
Click the “Create relation” button to create your relation in your database.
Your relation column should now appear in your database as shown in the screenshot above. Notice the arrow before the name of your column (like shown above). The arrow indicates that this column is related to another database.
Now, go to the database that you connected your relation to. Notice anything different? You should see a column like the one above in the database. When you create a relation between two databases, a new relation column is added to both databases.
Click on the current name of the relation column and type in a name for it. In my example, this database is a “Project” database that has a relation to a “Tasks” database.
What does this mean? Easiest way is to show you an example.
Here is a snapshot of my tasks database that contains a relation to my “projects” database. I added a project to each task by simply clicking on the “Project” field for each task. When I do that, a list of the projects appears and I click the “+” button to add it.
Let’s now look at my projects database. Notice that the relation to my tasks database is now populated. Each task field for each project now contains all of the tasks assigned to each project. As mentioned earlier, relations are bi-directional and when you change the relation on one database, the corresponding database’s relation will be updated as well. Pretty cool, right?
Now that we have covered relations, let’s talk about rollups.
What is a Rollup?
Rollups, as discussed earlier, provide the ability to share and create calculations based on values in one database in another database.
Again, the easiest way to explain how a rollup works is to show you so let’s get to it!
Creating a Rollup in Notion
In my example, my “Tasks” database has a column called “Estimated Time to Complete (hour)” that provides an estimate of how much time I think it will take to complete each task. Wouldn’t it be great if I could see this information in my “Projects” database such that I could see how many total hours each project will take based on the sum of all the tasks assigned to each project? This is where rollups come in handy!
Go to the database you want to add the rollup to (in my case, my “Projects” database). Create a column, give it a name, and select “Rollup” as the property type as shown above.
Your new column should appear with a magnifying glass icon in it. This indicates that this column is a rollup of data from another database.
Click on one of the cells in the relation column (“Estimated Total Time” for my example). You will be presented with a pop-up menu with three options:
Click on the “Relation” drop-down and select the relation you want to use for the rollup (in our example, the “Tasks for Project” relation).
Next, click on the “Property” drop-down and select the field you want to use to create the rollup from. In our example, I want the “Estimated Time to Complete” field so I selected that one.
Now, click on the “Calculate” drop-down and select the mathematical function you want to perform on your rollup. In my example, I wanted the total number of hours so I chose the “Sum” option.
As you can see from the screenshot above, the rollup shows the total hours each project will take. It accomplishes this by adding up all the estimated hours for each task in each project. Rollups can be really powerful and I recommend you experiment with them to see how the might be able to improve your Notion workflow.
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