Tag Archives: OneNote

The Case for OneNote on Your Smartphone

OneNote is a tool for taking notes. It is called OneNote because it allows you to keep all your notes in One place. If your notes are stored on OneDrive (which is the default) in the Cloud, you can access your notes from anywhere and using any computer, tablet or smartphone.

OneNote comes in several versions: OneNote 2016 for desktops, a OneNote app for tablets, and OneNote for smartphones. You can also access your notes using browser-based version of OneNote using the onenote.com website.

In this article, we will discuss why OneNote on your smartphone is an ideal tool for note taking.

Strength in Weakness

OneNote Desktop is a very powerful, complex program with many features. By contrast, the tablet version has fewer features, and OneNote on the smartphone has quite a limited set of features. That exactly is its strength!

That must be a handicap surely? Well no, 90% of note taking requires only 10% of OneNote’s features. You guessed it—those are the ones included in your smartphone’s OneNote. That makes OneNote ideal for note taking on your phone—there are no complex features to get in your way.

Add to that you are not likely to always carry your desktop or laptop with you, but you are likely to have your smartphone close at hand.

The Notebook Metaphor

If you are going to put all your notes in one place, you better have a way of organizing them. OneNote uses the traditional notebook as its metaphor for organizing notes.

A Traditional notebook

The notebook is divided into sections using coloured tabs. Each section can have as many pages as you like.

Your notes, obviously, are placed on pages. Each page has a title so that you can see at a glance what the notes are about that you put on that page.

When you create a note, OneNote automatically places the note in a container. You can place the container anywhere on the page that makes sense to you.

What Are Notes?

Notes are things you jot down so that you can remember later. When does one take notes?

  1. When you are thinking creatively
    • brainstorming
  2. When planning
    • Planning a project, a book, a vacation, a course
  3. General things you need to remember
    • Lists (shopping, books to read, movies to watch, things to do), passwords, expenses, bank accounts, how to instructions, etc.
  4. Doing research
    • Genealogy, assignments, reports, documentaries
  5. Remembering what was said
    • Meetings, lectures, church services
  6. Events
    • Tradeshows, exhibitions, accidents, news events, demonstrations, press conferences, etc.

Once you are familiar with OneNote, you will probably come up with novel applications of OneNote not listed here—and that’s ok too.

Generally, notes are for your benefit. They do not have to be perfect prose or even full sentences—as long as they help you to remember your thoughts and where o access information sources referred to.

The missing link

When creating notes, one often needs to refer to information in other documents or websites. Rather than repeating the entire document in your note, you simply provide a link to the document. All that is needed is to title the page and add a few lines of text why the document is important or relevant.

Many programs have Share option. When you choose Share with OneNote as the destination, this will generate a link to the information in OneNote, either as a new page or added as a note to an existing page.

Remember, OneNote was not intended for creating documents. For example, when you are doing research for your new book, you keep your notes in OneNote, but you lay out your book in Word or InDesign. Your notes would include things like the list of characters, sample copyright statements, the story out line, etc.

Smartphone Advantages

We now know that OneNote on a smartphone has a limited set of features compared to the desktop version. But it also has some unique advantages.

  1. So, you have a very creative brainstorming session with a friend or colleague. Now you have all these scribbles on a white board or Starbucks serviette. No problem—you can simply take a photo and it goes right into OneNote.
  2. No time to stop and take notes? Again, you can use your phone’s voice recorder.
  3. Is a procedure or demonstration complicated? Use your phone’s camera to record a video.
  4. You can view and edit notes almost anywhere, even if they were created in one of the other versions of OneNote.

A Caveat

Many people don’t like to type on a smartphone. However, typing is an essential part of note taking. There are three solutions for this:

  1. Use the WordFlow feature of the on-screen virtual keyboard. It needs practice, but if you persist, you will soon be able to type as fast as a traditional keyboard. There are many videos on YouTube that will show you how.
  2. Use a foldable Bluetooth keyboard. They are small and take up little space.
  3. If needed, you can use your earbuds’ microphone with your phone’s dictate tool.


  1. Although OneNote on a smartphone has fewer features than the desktop version, it has all the tools necessary for effective note taking.
  2. Your smartphone has the additional advantage that it is always available.
  3. Features unique to smartphones allow for ways of note taking not possible with other devices.

So yes, your smartphone and OneNote should be an essential part of your note taking workflow.

Project Management for Small Business

pmlifecycleWhat is a project? Building an aircraft carrier would certainly be a project. For that you would need a team of highly qualified people and sophisticated management software. That kind of project is beyond the scope of a small organization.

Our type of project could be building a website, participating in a tradeshow, running a conference, and so on.

In this post we will look at how a small organization could manage such projects.

Project Definition
A project has two main characteristics

1. It is not a routine activity of your organization
2. It has a definite start and end time

Project Management
Managing the project basically involves getting the project done on time and within the budget allocated for it.

In a small organization you may be both the manager and the implementer of the project. Given all the routine day to day activities requiring your attention, you certainly still need help staying on top of your project.

More often than not, there will be other people involved. Then communications become an important additional activity you will need.

The Process
Big or small, projects start by identifying the tasks that will make up the project. This requires a bit of brainstorming and possibly lots of sticky notes. The end result is the work breakdown structure.

Then you need to estimate the duration and cost of each task on your list. Then the tasks need to be transcribed onto a calendar of some kind to remind you when they need to be done. This project focus tool describes a practical approach (from Lumia Conversations).

If you are working with others, like planning a conference for example, then the team members need to be informed of the tasks allocated to them.

The Tools
For the size of project we are discussing, you could certainly could get by with pen and paper, and good pocket calendar.

However, I recommend tools that most small organizations already own and are familiar with: Microsoft Outlook and OneNote. With these tools you can schedule tasks, communicate project progress, keep notes of meetings and payments and more.

If you find you have a more complex project, then you could consider a project management plug-in for Outlook, or even an online project management service (project management software).

A project is different from our routine tasks and as such, needs a different approach. However, with the software that most small organizations already have and are familiar with, it is possible to integrate your project tasks with your normal workflow.

If you would like to learn more about project management concepts, the eBook Project Management Lite is a good place to start.

How Is Your CRM?

crm-counterHow does one get new clients? By looking after existing clients!

Word of mouth is a very effective way of getting new clients. And that brings us to CRM. What on earth is that?

In this post we will describe what it is, and how a small organization can implement it.

The Definition
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a system for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers (from Wikipedia).

In practical terms when a client calls you, and you can answer “Hi Joe, how is the new grand child?”, then the client feels positive about your relationship.

Some people have the knack to remember details about people, but for most of us it is not so easy—we need help. That is where CRM tools come in.

A recent report lists reasons why many small businesses will fail this year.  In this short video from the article Times columnist, Gene Marks, discusses the importance of CRM for small businesses.

CRM Tools
All organizations need CRM, but the size and type of your organization will determine the type of CRM tool that will work for you. We look at three options.

  • OneNote
    Microsoft OneNote lets you keep notes on anything, including customers. OneNote is like a small tabbed pocket book, where you keep notes about each client that you place in the tabbed sections by last name. You can access this information using your desktop and your smartphone. Here is an example…
  • Outlook
    Although Outlook is not free, many organizations are already using it for email and tracking their contacts. Outlook tracks much of the information in Contacts that you will need for CRM. It can also give you reminders of birthdays, follow up tasks and more. Here is more information…
  • Subscription Services
    There are many providers of online CRM services. These can be very powerful and provide features based on advanced data analysis. But they are not free. If you have many clients, these services may well be worth the monthly subscription fee. For an example see…

The Take-away
It seems that every year there is a report of some kind giving reasons why small businesses fail. But you don’t have to be one of the statistics—consider your CRM needs and implement a suitable tool today.

Project Planning in the Cloud

pmcloudProject management is boring, right? Not so. I have been looking into Microsoft’s OneNote, and specifically how small organizations could use the program. Then I came across a rather fun example on Microsoft’s website.

The Story
Basically it is about an artist Mike Kaminsky. Mike and his group of friends plan a party (that’s a project too) with the help of OneNote, OneDrive, and their Surface Tablets, PCs, and phones.

The process is explained in a fast-paced video that is fun to watch (it is a bit of a commercial but the principles are sound).

The website also gives you a link to Mike’s Party Planner on OneNote—you view it with a PC or Mac as it uses OneNote Mobile which is web-based.

So take a few moments and click here to see how to enjoy work

Why OneNote Is Difficult

SearchWhen I first started looking at OneNote as a tool for small organizations, I found it difficult. Not that the program was difficult to learn, but deciding how to apply it was difficult.

Then, as I wrote in my previous post, I finally understood OneNote better–it still is difficult!

In this post I will discuss why OneNote is difficult and why really it isn’t.

The Filing Cabinet Woes
OneNote is a digital filing cabinet. And that is why it is difficult.

Anyone who has designed a physical filing system will know that it is difficult. No two people will design the filing system the same way. When I studied how people actually used OneNote I was struck by the many different approaches they use. That is to be expected.

Filing cabinets are notorious for swallowing documents. “I can’t find that document, I know I filed it somewhere!” is a common lament. Did you file it under Annual Reports, or under Strategic Planning? That then results in desperate riffling through file folders and much frustration.

The OneNote Solution
OneNote is difficult exactly because we always try and design the ideal filing system. But there is no ideal system. What works under one set of circumstances, will be less ideal in others.

With OneNote there is no need to worry about getting it exactly right. Unlike with a physical filing cabinet, it is easy to rearrange things in OneNote once you have had some experience with the system you have designed and know better what you really need.

And that missing document? No need to riffle through file folders, OneNote has a powerful search functionality that will find the document in no time at all, no matter where you have misfiled or how you misnamed it.

OneNote is a powerful filing system of your electronic information. Because it is so full featured, it can be difficult to set it up at first, just like with any filing system. The search tools minimize the pain to find the missing document if you did not quite file it correctly.

Of course, if you are not using OneNote, you are stuck with having to take your office apart to find the missing document…

In upcoming posts we will look at how small businesses and organizations can put OneNote to use.

OneNote Eureka

FrustratedFinally the penny dropped, OneNote is not a note taking program! Thinking note taking is misleading and has prevented many from considering OneNote. It is just a program for students after all…?

In this post I will present a model for understanding what OneNote really is—a powerful, essential tool for today’s organizations.

The Penny
I have been researching tools for project management for small businesses and have been looking at OneNote. I read blogs, took online courses, considered case studies and whitepapers but I was getting nowhere—my mind was stuck on note taking!

The Real OneNote Model
Imagine that you are at an important meeting and you need a specific document. No problem, you have your filing cabinet mounted on wheels and you have lugged it with you to the meeting.

So you lean back, open the second drawer, slide your finger to the fifth file hanger, and pull out the file folder and take out the needed document. Handy, huh?!

Well, OneNote is your mobile filing cabinet! The Cloud are the wheels.

That’s right. Each “notebook” is a drawer in the cabinet, the “sections” are file hangers, the “pages” are the file folders. You can put anything in the file folder: documents, scanned receipts, emails, etc.

So you don’t need a filing cabinet on wheels, your smartphone or tablet will do.

Back to my project management tools for small business quest. No, OneNote is not the tool – it is a filing cabinet remember, filing cabinets don’t do project management. Outlook is the tool for task management, Word creates your reports, Excel tracks the expenses. OneNote is where you file the information.

Got a brainwave for that new job? Jot it on a yellow sticky and stick it to the file folder—no need, OneNote can do that too.

Article Writing Tools

toolsWe have covered different aspects about writing articles as a way of promoting your website. Up until now we looked at the structure to follow, how to find topic ideas, and the importance of scheduling. Sure, it is still WORK but really rewarding.

In this post we will consider four tools you could use to make the task easier.

1 Create Folders
In no time you will have written several articles, and will be working on new ones. Soon there will be files everywhere!

It is useful to start with at least one folder called, for example, Website Articles. I tend to create subfolders for each article as well.

You might have more than one draft of an article, as well as several images that you are considering. It is helpful to keep all these together in its own folder.

2 Write Off-line
Develop your article in your favourite word processor first. That gives you powerful spelling and grammar tools and an easy way to move things around. Don’t worry too much about formatting at this stage.

Once you are happy with the article, you can copy and paste the text into WordPress’ post editor. Then you can do the final formatting and upload and place the images.

3 Take Notes
There are useful apps like OneNote and Evernote that you can use to take notes for articles that you are working on. However, I find having a small old fashioned notebook like a Moleskine, to work just fine.

So when you sit in Starbucks and you get an idea, create a note straight away. Often doing that will lead you to the next idea.

4 Collect Images
When you are working on an article, use the Images feature of Bing or Google to look for suitable images. When you find something you like, save it into the corresponding article folder.

Typically I collect several images and then often create my own using ideas from the images I have downloaded. One can easily create interesting graphics using the graphic tools included in Word.

Writing articles is key to promoting your website or blog. In this series of articles we have discussed points to keep in mind to make the task easier and to save you time.

We cover the topics in more detail in our many online courses so be sure to visit hmdtraining.com.

Authors Take Note

onenote-iconThis has been a week of books for me. I delivered a lovely hardcover biography to a client, published an illustrated softcover through CreateSpace for a client, and published one of my own ebooks on Amazon Kindle.

As I grow older, keeping track of everything gets harder. That’s where OneNote comes in.

This is a wonderful program for many things, especially keeping track of writing projects.

So I would like to share some how-to links:

With OneNote, it is easy to keep track of files needed for a book, write-ups of characters under development, and even the financial side of things.

What makes it even more useful is that I have OneNote on my desktop computer but also on my phone. So when I am at Blenz enjoying a coffee and I get an inspiration, I simply whip out my phone and update using OneNote. Neat huh!