5 Ways to Leverage Microsoft OneNote to Organize Your Life

Craig Pollack | Jan 22, 2016

Microsoft OneNote

After Outlook, Microsoft OneNote is the MVP of software applications.  I don’t simply mean that it’s second to Outlook in usage (although it certainly is for me), by this I do mean that it’s the Most Valuable Platform. And without a doubt, I’d have to say it’s probably the most easily overlooked way to make significant improvements in how you organize yourself. Dare I say life altering!

OneNote is a digital notebook providing a way to store and organize all that you do into one cohesive area.  We all have a thousand things to do, so how do you keep track of them all? How do you make sure nothing slips through the cracks?  OneNote is the answer.  OneNote is part of Microsoft’s Office 365 offering.  It’s a simple, but incredibly effective tool. It’s accessible across all of your devices (computers, smartphone, tablets) and the beautiful part is because the data resides in the cloud, everything is up to date at all times.  There’s no need to save and sync anything.  Everything syncs automatically.  AND, you can share your Notebooks with anyone you want.  It’s simply brilliant.

So, what does OneNote do exactly?  Just like the name implies it’s a digital notebook divided up into tabs and pages. Along with storing any sort of random thoughts, within the pages you can create bullet point lists and checkboxes as well as attach any type of document (ie: Word, Excel, etc.).

Here are some basics to get you started:

1. Create a Notebook and Share it

Once you create your base notebook, share it with your assistant.  You can give them view access or the ability actually edit it.  Up to you. But, this (sharing it) only helps you get more things done.

2. Setup Recurring Meetings

Setup a tab for your recurring meetings and then within that tab setup a page for each meeting.  On that page add the date and time of the meeting and save your bullet-point list of notes.  Repeat this for each meeting and you’ll have a growing list of the contents of each meeting. This will save you a ton of time preparing for the meetings.  Everything’s right there at your fingertips. And with the beauty of its instant on accessibility anywhere, whenever you think of something you need to remember to cover in the next meeting, simply update the section with your point.

3. Track and Manage One-on-One Meetings

Similar to Recurring Meetings, setup a tab for your recurring one-on-one meetings and then within that tab setup a page for each meeting.  The difference with this tab is that you need to secure it. Right-click on the tab and you can password protect this tab so that whoever you shared this notebook with can’t see anything under this tab.

4. Organize Initiatives or Projects

Create a tab labeled “Initiatives” or “Projects”.  Then within this tab, create a page for each of the major initiatives or projects that you’re involved with.  You can then track any notes, things to do (TTD’s), or needed documents.

5. Get Stuff Done

Create a tab labeled “TTD”.  Within this tab, create one page called “Urgent”, one page called “Important”, and one page called “Personal”. As the name of this tab implies, then use each of these pages (according to how each of these pages are named) to list the things you need to do in the order that you need to do them in.  All of these items should come out of the actions of things needing to get done from all the other sections within your notebook. This is the section you live in.  This is constantly getting updated as you complete things. I make this my first tab so that it's the first thing I see and the main tab I'm working in.

So there you have it.  Doing these five things will no doubt get you to a good starting point. Naturally, you can mix and match and add and subtract things as you use your notebook and get more comfortable with it.

If you find these tips helpful or if you have any thoughts that you’d like to share about how you use OneNote, please leave them in the Comments section below. 

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Craig Pollack

Craig Pollack

Craig is the Founder & CEO of FPA Technology Services, Inc. Craig provides the strategy and direction for FPA, ensuring its clients, business owners, and key decision makers leverage technology as efficiently and effectively as possible. With over 25 years of experience building the preeminent IT Service Provider in the Southern California area, Craig is one of the area’s leading authorities on how small to mid-sized businesses can best secure and leverage their technology to achieve their business objectives.