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How To Use OneNote To Solve Any Problem

Okay, so maybe not ANY problem, but OneNote can be an essential tool to helping your organize your troubleshooting process. If you aren't familiar, OneNote is a free Notebook application provided by Microsoft.

If you have Office 365, you likely already have it installed on your computer. Not a fan of OneNote, that's okay, I wasn't initially either.

While I fully intend to ramble on about many ways OneNote can make your life easier, the focus of this post is on how it can help you solve problems.

A challenge with OneNote is that it in all of it is infinite powers, it's usefulness relies on your ability to organize your own processes.

Below is the layout of one of my OneNote Notebooks:

  • This is my "personal" work notebook, only I have access to it

  • I have a section called "Solutions" where I keep pages filled with problems and solutions

  • I have a page called "Wagon Wheel Inc. - A real problem" to use as an example

The basics of solving any problem is to identity what's happening, why it is happening, what to do about it, and then communicating the plan to resolve that problem. Eventually, that resolution will become a solution that turns into something much more organized for me (A proposal, a ticket or project plan, and eventually an invoice!)

I use this OneNote page as my "center for information gathering" while going through this process. Which means, as things progress, this page will get updated.

If I have a meeting (in-person or remote), I'll have this page open and ready for me to add notes:

As action items begin to form, that'll get added to this page as well:

I'll continue to add to this page during the entire research and discussion process, always adding titles to keep things organized:

With OneNote, you have unlimited space to work with, so I'll generally keep on moving to the right as things progress:

Even important emails will begin on this page:

For an important email like this, I might share this page with someone to review and proofread:

Eventually, that draft will turn into a real email that leads to a real solution. The entire time, my notes are in a single place that are easy for me to get to via my phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop:

When I am in a meeting with my team, I can open my OneNote page and share my screen so everyone can review with me. Down the road, if I need to look back, I can search instantly to find those notes. On top of that, everything in this notebook follows my company's security standards and can be safely accessed from anywhere.

If you've worked with me in the past and have wondered how I remember so much, you now know my secret… I don't actually remember, I just have easy access to my notes in OneNote wherever I am!

This is just one of the hundreds of ways I use OneNote to help make my job easier. A takeaway from this is to consider using OneNote if you aren't using it already. There are alternatives out there, and many of them are great, but if you are in the Office 365 universe, it really deserves to be part of your normal day to day workflow.

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