December 13th, 2007
By Paul Grossman, PAULGRO Consulting LLC.
I’ve recently installed and started using one of the newer components of Microsoft’s Office Suite, called OneNote. I first saw OneNote about a year ago when someone showed me OneNote 2003, the person using it was using it on a tablet PC so I just passed it off as a really neat tool for pentops. Also, back then I didn’t have the software so I just dismissed it, thinking to myself that if I ever got a pen top PC I’d revisit it. However I noticed that I have a copy of it when I got Office 2007 so I installed it and started checking it out. I discovered that OneNote is not just for Pen tops.
After that, I was floored over how useful it is. Being that I’m a small business owner trying to develop new lines of services, I tend to do lots of research and I typically would find that activity a little frustrating because I’d discover information that should have been organized a few topics back and I didn’t leave space for it to add later. When information comes flying at me, if I can’t capture it in an organized way without losing track of the last thing I was working on, forget it. Or, I would use MS Word and find myself having dozens of separate document files just on one topic. Needless to say although with Word, I was able to insert information at the right places and that did help me get better organized to “absorb” new found information. I’d often get overwhelmed at looking at the serial list of many spearate documents (or on the other hand, having a single document with many pages) — again, it lends itself to be overwhelming.
Enter OneNote. Picture having an electronic Notebook binder with tabs and pages. You can see all the divider tabs at-a-glance and get and idea as to the structure of the information at hand. Also take this one step further with the ability to take each page and allow yourself to structure those pages to have sub-pages - all visible at-a-glance. If you were to have this ability your research and the eventual study of the information becomes much easier. Paper notebooks don’t give you that ability to have 2 levels of structuring (you just get to add in divider tabs but you really can’t break your pages into sub-pages whose structure you can see at-a-glance).
So basically, OneNote gives you the ability to electronically have a structure like a 3-ring binder notebook, but even better because you can have one more level of structure and organization that the “old-school” binder notebook doesn’t give you. Add to that, the flexibility you would get in Word (or really any other “editor”) where you can insert information (without having to “erase” or “re-write” pages of paper notes to make your collection of information easy to understand).
As if that wasn’t enough to get you to become more productive, OneNote tastkes it one-notch further with giving you the ability to organize entire topics into a separate electronic notebook. I’m always wearing separate hats and information comes at me fast and furious - that means that not everything comes in to me in a neat and orderly manner (everything I need for one topic just doesn’t all come together in a single stream of time - I am always going back and forth, and now I have the ability to capture it all without losing track of where I left off from any one given topic). You can also see all of your notebooks at-a-glance. To me, this is really a big plus. That means I can start a topic and give it its own notebook. Then when something disparate comes up, I can just start a whole new notebook and start filling that one up. I can easily switch back and forth between notebooks as I need to (it works like your typical “Workspace” type environment - really neat). The greatest thing I like is that when I’m gathering notes from the web or another electronic document, I can take a “clipping” of a web page for example and it’ll go right onto my OneNote page. This is better than just cut and paste (although you can still do that too - but now you can get text and photos pasted neatly onto your note page right from the web).
There is much more to OneNote than what I’ve used it for so far. For example, you can also record voice notes — and yes, even voice notes are searchable. So even conversations at meetings can be captured and put into your notes using OneNote. So the more I use it, the more I discover and it only gets better.
I know that just reading my words doesn’t really give you the best “picture” of the power of OneNote. So, check out this link and discover more about OneNote.
OneNote is included with Office 2007 Home and Student, Office 2007 Ultimate, and Office 2007 Enterprise. It’s also available for purchase as a single program as well.
I can’t say enough how excited I am about this boost in productivity thanks to OneNote. It’s among the most useful pieces of software tools I have on my computer !