Opening the Toolbox & Looking at OneNote

Organizational Tools Are as Important as Any Other…Maybe More

Last week I told you that we would open up my organizational toolbox and take a look inside. So, OneNote is the first tool that we’ll look at.

Being a self-employed small business owner is a difficult undertaking at best. This difficulty increases exponentially when organization and communication are operating poorly or not at all. This problem only increases when you’re successful and there are more things to organize and more people to communicate with.

During my thirty-five plus years of continually working to achieve and maintain some level of control I have used a whole lot of different tools. Some were old school some high tech.

The best tool I have found for organizing and communicating is Microsoft OneNote.

This tool is great for organizing and communicating. It does so much, so well, that I don’t need a bunch of different apps to do different things. To often these various apps don’t sync well across different systems and devices.

I would equate OneNote to a three-ring binder on steroids.

Maybe we should call OneNote the ‘Six Million Dollar’ binder. I have used binders for my organizing for years and still do, to a small degree.

A good comparison of OneNote to a binder is the way I used to have project binders on site at construction projects. This was a place where things would be kept so that employees, sub-contractors, project management, architects and the customer could all have access to the specifics of the project.

OneNote is organized very similar to a binder. You can have different ‘notebooks’ and each book can be divided into multiple ‘sections’ and each section can have bunches of ‘pages’ and subpages.

Just like “The Six Million Dollar Man” this computerized version of a ‘notebook’ has superhuman bionic computerized capabilities.

Here are a few of them –

  • Share with other people across multiple devises. This can be as simple as sharing a shopping list with your spouse or as detailed as an entire notebook with colleagues on a big project.
  • Syncs automatically across multiple devises. If someone adds to the shopping list or checks something off, you will know it in a matter of seconds as long as you are connected to the internet. If not, it will sync as soon as you are.
  • When changes are made, they are highlighted until read. If one of my virtual assistants makes a change, I will be able to know that, go to the specific change and know who did it and when it was done.
  • Insert almost anything on to a page. You can insert copies of other documents, screen clippings, photos, audio and video recordings, links to other pages and/or web locations, etc. This is just part of what I’m currently using or is available with OneNote.
  • Link from and to multiple locations. I can put a link for a specific OneNote page in a task reminder or calendar event or on a word document. Click on it and it will open up that page, even if OneNote isn’t open yet.
  • Editing is really easy. Things on a OneNote page can be clicked on and moved to a different place on the page. This feature is great for prioritizing a list. If I want to move something higher on the list, I just move it there, no cutting or copying or pasting (although you can do those things as well).
  • It’s always ready to open up and use. It doesn’t require the opening up of a program and folder a file before you can write something down. Click on the OneNote icon in the task bar and it’s open. A couple more clicks and you can write down your note before you forget it.
  • Great place for filing and storing. If I want to save an email from a customer with a picture and a link to a web site, I can do that right from Outlook.
  • Can protect sensitive info within a shared note book. If I have a page that has ideas for my wife’s Christmas or passwords to my bank account, I can password protect those pages. This means that if my wife accidently goes to her Christmas page when she meant to go to the shopping list, she can’t open it without the password…which she doesn’t have.
  • Can draw or write on it just like paper. This feature is great for getting down quick information with my tablet or phone. I can draw the floor plan for a room addition and write dimensions and notes right on it.

This tool can do all this and much more. Some people will probably say that it has too many bells and whistles or it’s complicated. I’m sure this isn’t the best tool for everybody and that’s okay. Not every person uses the same cordless drill.

This tool is simple to use and it makes it easy for me to stay organized.

Next week we’ll get out another tool that work’s in conjunction with this one.

This post was originally published January 21, 2017

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