Kate Denne Administration Services Northampton

Using Microsoft’s OneNote to improve your productivity!

Do you find yourself trying, but failing, to remember everything that needs to be done? Would you like a to-do list that is portable, flexible, and compatible on Mac and Windows? Read on to find how, with OneNote, this can be done.

Fred feels stressed! He has too much on –  he can’t remember everything!

Fred is a busy. He runs his business, he is a father, a husband, a son, does a little voluntary work in his town when time permits and he helps coach the junior football team on Sundays.

Business is good, Fred has plenty of work booked in for the next few months. Family is good, but there are always lots of *things* going on, and he needs to get his Mum a birthday card for next week. The football team were looking for sponsorship to help pay for their new kit; Fred was going to use his local business contacts, but he can’t remember how many he has already asked. And he was going to help some of the Dads at school in a few weeks do some planting in the school gardens…and so it goes on.

It is really difficult to remember everything that we have to do.

Our brains are not so good at remembering lists of things – a to-do list is a fantastic way of dumping all those conflicting thoughts onto a piece of paper to get them into some sort of shape. They can then be sorted, prioritised, possibly some can be delegated – perhaps to a Virtual Assistant?

A to-do list is great way to get started with personal organisation, at least on an ad-hoc basis. To-do lists are rarely permanent. They are usually the result of frustration, or a feeling of overwhelming workload. They are also rarely saved, or stored away. Created on a scrap of paper, and discarded when the most pressing tasks are completed.

But there is a better way.  There is a more permanent way.

I present Microsoft OneNote as a simple but very effective solution to the problem of keeping track of things.

OneNote is note-taking and information gathering application. You can use OneNote in a browser, as a mobile app, and as part of Microsoft Office. The real power of OneNote comes when you store your notes in OneDrive. Once you do this, your notes will be synchronised between all your devices: your Mac, your PC, your phone. And then, you have everything you need always at your fingertips.

OneNote structures your notes into Notebooks, then into sections, and then into pages.  Within a single Notebook, Fred could create sections to group his notes together:

  • Work to-do
  • Family to-do
  • Football team to-do
  • Voluntary to-do

Fred no longer needs to remember everything – he has committed all his to-do items on paper. Well, on screen. Now he no longer wastes energy and brain effort just remembering stuff. Instead he can concentrate on doing things.

Fred can take things further though. He needs a way to track new tasks and to close off old tasks. He adds two more sections

  • Inbox
  • Completed

He uses the Inbox to add new items to OneNote. He uses Completed to move all completed items out from his main to-do lists.

By moving his notes from “Inbox” to their section, to “Completed”, he can easily see what items are outstanding and require actions.

By keeping all of his completed tasks, he can always search his history of work to find things.

Fred is happy!

It takes Fred a few weeks to get into the habit of writing everything down, but the benefits for Fred are huge. Fred no longer feels the nagging stress of trying to remember everything. He now knows clearly what is outstanding. Fred can determine at a glance what is urgent and what can wait.

But Fred can go one step further. Fred needs to collaborate with his fellow football coaches on the sponsorship ideas, and needs to share his work admin to-do items with his Virtual Assistant. With OneNote this is easy. He can share a notebook with others, so they can collaborate on items, sharing their progress and their ideas.

OneNote (available online for free) has dramatically simplified Fred’s life. Perhaps it could help you too? How do you manage your to-do list? Please comment below and share your ideas.

Kate Denne Administration Services Northampton

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