Organizing Your Work: OneNote on Your Desktop and Online

If you’re drowning in a sea of sticky notes or an ocean of paper notebooks, you’re not alone. We all often feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that we have to keep straight on a daily basis — and then we’re expected to remember that information weeks, months, or even years later!

Sticky notes get lost or tossed too early. Notebooks become frayed with overuse, stained with coffee and tea. You flip through the pages to find that one thing you wrote down — what? three weeks ago? — but skimming and scanning takes too much time. That phone number you wrote down for the accountant is smudged — is that a 4 or a 7?

If you use Microsoft Office software, you’ve probably seen OneNote in your list of programs, and maybe you’ve opened it a few times to see what it’s all about. But if you’re still using paper to organize your thoughts, take notes from meetings and phone calls, or manage your ever-changing to-do list, it’s time to give OneNote another look.

Here are a few quick strategies you can use to make OneNote part of your work life:

  1. Set up notebooks for your major projects. And inside each notebook, add a new section for major tasks within each project, and add new pages for each meeting, brainstorming session, document outline, or whatever else you take notes on.
  2. Create a To-Do List as the first section of each notebook. This to-do list can act as your dashboard for a project, letting you know at a glance what tasks are still outstanding and what you’ve accomplished so far. Highlight your list, click on Home, and from the Tags section, add “To Do” checkboxes to make it easy to show what you’ve finished.
  3. Organize pages in a section. You can drag and drop individual pages to put them in a new order, and you can right-click a page to make it a sub-page within a set of pages.
  4. Use the Search box to find a keyword. Search any part of your OneNote application — all notebooks, a certain notebook, a certain section, or a certain page. Save time that you’d normally spend flipping through pages and skimming for keywords by letting OneNote do the searching for you!