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Microsoft OneNote

Today’s information overload which often leaves us with notes and reminders scribbled on random pieces of paper and sticky notes. Just waiting for us to find the time to (hopefully) organize them before they get lost. Using a digital notebook such as OneNote to log your notes can help. But unless it is easy to use, such apps can sometimes be more of a hassle.

Microsoft’s OneNote is designed to keep your work life on track. But once you get used to it, you’ll probably find that it is equally useful in your after-work life, too. OneNote is a digital notebook that lets you create pages and tabbed sections to store information. Ranging from random thoughts and ideas to meeting notes that ensures you don’t miss any important tasks or meetings. Let’s take a closer look at how OneNote can help you make the most of your time.

What’s So Great About OneNote?

As part of the Microsoft family, OneNote automatically backs up to the Microsoft 365 cloud. Unlike those notes you scribble on the back of an envelope, you don’t have to worry about them getting lost. There are now apps to access OneNote notebooks across every device, including Windows, Mac, iPhone and Android. So it’s easy to share them with colleagues and enjoy real-time collaboration.

There’s no way for one blog post to cover everything that OneNote can do. However, the more you use it, the more features you’ll discover. And the more you’ll realize how much you need it in your life.

5 Tips to Boost Productivity With OneNote

Of course, it doesn’t matter how good your app is if you’re not using it properly. Here are five ways to do that to better manage your time and increase your productivity with OneNote.

No. 1: Start With a To-Do List

To-do lists sound like a pretty basic jumping-off point. But if you’re not already using them, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to carpe diem. Just creating a to-do list helps decrease anxiety and allows us to create structure.

In OneNote, creating a to-do list is extremely simple. There’s a To-Do Tag located in the top right of the Home tab. So once you choose that, you can begin creating your list. After you’ve created your list, you can click on the box in front of each task as you complete it. You’ll see what you accomplished, what still needs to be done and what needs to move to the next day.

No. 2: Create Agendas and Keep Meeting Minutes

OneNote allows you to create and store agendas for your meetings. You can store these for future reference and easy recall, and you also can collaborate with colleagues in real-time to make sure it’s up to date.

Then, using the same page, you can take meeting notes (including meeting recordings). Also, you can keep track of action items and keep meeting minutes during the meeting. (Or, if you prefer, you can use a separate template to take meeting minutes and store them in a notebook specifically for minutes.)

Using OneNote to keep track of your meetings makes it easier to share information, stay organized and allow your entire team to have access to the meeting details.

No. 3: Integrate Emails — and More

How many times have you been discussing a topic in a meeting and remember you’ve got an email that can describe exactly what’s needed? With OneNote, you can include the email in your meeting notes. With just a click of a button on your Outlook email (the button that says “OneNote” under the “Move” tab), you can add the email to your notes. This not only makes it easier to store all the information for a certain project in one place, but it lets you share the email with your colleagues as part of the notebook.

You can also take audio or video recordings of events, conference sessions or meetings and include them in a project notebook, or link your notes to a relevant website or even to other OneNote notebooks to make sure all the information on a project or topic is compiled in one place and easily accessed.

No. 4: Jot Down Quick Notes

In the paper world, sticky notes like Post-it became popular because we all have those quick thoughts or tasks that pop up. If we don’t write down a reminder, we risk forgetting them and end up with a disappointed boss/co-worker/spouse.

The Quick Note feature works much the same way. You can type your note in the small note window and then move it anywhere on your screen — just like you’d place a sticky note — until you no longer need it. Where Quick Note vastly improves on the paper version is that it allows you to file them, move them to other parts of your notebooks and organize them in case they’re needed in the future.  

No. 5: Make Your Own Page Templates

OneNote has plenty of existing page templates you can use to streamline your life. These include planners, To Do lists and even pages with decorative backgrounds. But if you need something more customized for a specific task or project, you can make your own.

The template creation tool lets you choose paper size, page margins, fonts and colors. You can add a folio or other information that you want to have appear on every page. So if you’re working on a report or proposal that needs specific information on every page, this will do the trick. (One important thing to note, however, is that the template must be opened and applied before you begin your work; it cannot be applied to a page after the content has already been created.)

Take Note of What OneNote Offers 

While there’s no shortage of productivity tools within the Microsoft suite, OneNote is a feature that’s easy to overlook but essential for today’s work environment. With so many ways to simplify and streamline your life, there’s no reason not to make it one of your daily work apps.