Tag Archives: planning

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.

Plan Systematically

planning sessionThe one thing that always surprised me when talking to new small businesses was how little importance they gave to planning, if any at all.

In this post I will give a short overview of the system of planning.

There are three interrelated types of planning: new business planning, strategic planning and annual planning. This is shown in the schematic below.

system of plans

The System of Plans

1 Annual Planning
The annual plan looks one year into the future. It predicts your routine activities, events, and special projects for that year.

Key components are the budget (financial plan) and the marketing plan. For projects, i.e. once only activities, you would have project planning.

2 Strategic Planning
Approximately every 5 years one should conduct strategic planning—here we attempt to look further into the future. You assess your current situation and develop possible strategies to follow for the next five years.

Your strategic plan drives your annual planning. It will also identify specific projects whenever you need to implement something new.

3 Business Plan
The new business plan is really a special case of the strategic plan. It the strategic planning you do when you intend to start a new business.

Key components are the implementation plan, financial plan, personnel plan, and the marketing plan.

What is a Business?
In the context of this post, a business is any organized human endeavour. So whether you manufacture products, publish a magazine or run a society—it is a business and needs planning to succeed.

The Takeaway
Many businesses fail exactly because they fail to plan, hence the truism “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

If you are new to planning there are many excellent resources available on the Web. Your favourite search engine would quickly get you on your way. If you need assistance we would be happy to help.

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

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!


Will Your Idea Succeed?

brightideaOne of the pleasures of being an entrepreneur is thinking up new business ideas. Then you dash off and implement it.

Oh, oh, it does seem to be working. I am not getting any results. It must have been a bad idea.

Well, not necessarily. Let’s look at how to know if it is working of not.

Most business ideas do not produce instant results – it takes time for it to be established. If you had really “dashed off” to implement your idea without doing proper planning, then it is quite possible that you would not know if your idea is working.

If you don’t see any results and you give up without giving it enough time, then it is a certain way to kill what is otherwise a great idea.

So if things are slow (slower than you hoped), remind yourself of why you were so fired-up about the idea in the first place. That should help you to give the idea a chance to develop.

This is where planning really helps. If you have mapped out how the idea will grow over time, then you can judge better if you are still on track with your idea.

For more information on how to do your plan, visit the Small Business BC website. It does not matter if it is a business idea or a project for your society, or your upcoming vacation, planning is the key, and the principles of planning are the same.





What Does It Cost?

dollar signI am often asked, how much does a “small”  or “basic” website cost? This seems to be a valid question. I know I would to know the cost of something before spending my hard-earned money!

But it is in fact an incorrect question to ask and it is symptomatic of an underlying omission as I will try and explain in more detail in this post.

Show me da money!
This is a quote from a famous movie where the football player says to the agent “show me da money!” I usually follow up the question with “show me da business plan!” – and so often there is none. That is the omission, The real question should be “what will the website do for your business/organization?” If the website will enable you to earn $100 000, does it matter if you have paid $100, $1000, or $10,000 for a website!

But a website is not a commodity with a fixed price, but rather it is a solution designed to meet a business need. Any new venture should start with a business plan in which you identify your target audience for your products or services, and includes an implementation plan, a financial plan and a marketing plan.

The website component is but one component of the project, marketing is an even bigger component. This involves a wide range of technologies including video, email marketing and social media.

Content creation is another huge component of an Internet-based project. A thorough knowledge of the target audience, the desired outcomes, and available resources all have a role to play as we discussed in a previous post.

I want to charge a lot!
That is why I can never answer the question, “how much does a website cost?” I would like to charge you much more than what you think a website should cost! No, I am not trying to be funny, it is true. I would like to use my skills as a designer to make your venture successful. This takes more than just building a website. I would like to be involved early on in the planning of your venture.

It is actually free!
In a strange way it is mostly free, as the costs incurred in your project for graphic design is largely a tax write-off.