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OneNote Is A "Secret" Productivity Weapon

Yep. OneNote.

2020 is here, if you haven't already, it's time to make OneNote part of your life. It is an essential tool for organizing ideas, drafting important emails, compiling research, and more! If you've worked with me in the past you've likely heard me talk about how great OneNote is.

OneNote has been around since 2003. When it was first released, it was written off by many people as a confusing and useless tool. It was essentially a supercharged "notepad" that would synchronize changes with your server. You were in the minority if you used it let alone heard of it.

However , OneNote has evolved greatly since 2003. Flash forward several years and OneNote can now synchronize with Office 365, understand handwriting, be used with multiple people at once, and there are apps for your phone, tablet, and computer.

And it is because of this, it has become an essential weapon for productivity for me.

So many use-cases

I could write multiple posts about how I use OneNote (and I will!), but here are a few examples:

  • Blog Post Drafting This post started in OneNote! It was reviewed by a couple peers while I made changes based on their feedback in real-time.

  • Meeting Agendas Some of my most effective meetings have been centered around OneNote being on a screen or multiple screens while the meeting is happening. This same agenda can be opened by people who couldn't make the meeting later to read any notes added.

  • Solution Brainstorming Often times when thinking out an idea or project for a customer, I'll begin in OneNote to whiteboard and brainstorm different approaches. It's not uncommon for me to share these with other people on the team so they can review and contribute. We might even draw on them using a touchscreen or digital pen. It's also not uncommon that during team meetings we'll continue add to these pages as ideas solidify, each page syncing across all devices as we edit.

  • Process Documentation When trying to pass on knowledge or evolve a process, one of the first steps is to document the process or procedure, and for me, that begins with OneNote. I document, revise, take screenshots, and centralize ideas while working directly with process owners using OneNote. These pages then get used to create workflow charts or diagrams, and in some cases, the OneNote Notebook itself becomes the final documentation, a book of processes and references.

Many Aevo posts start in OneNote!

Depending on the end goal, these OneNote pages and notebooks eventually turn into emails, blog posts, proposals, or more formal forms of documentation. However, sometimes they live forever within OneNote itself!

Sure, there are other tools out there (Evernote, Notion, Google Keep, and more!), and if you are using these already, that's great! Keep in mind that most note taking solutions do not natively integrate with your company's identity services or comply with security policies, at least not without paying for licenses for the software and consulting time to integrate them. When using these tools for work purposes, it would be a good idea to get the OK from your IT department before using them at work.

OneNote natively supports your company's security and identity policies. And, if you are using Office 365, you already own the licenses to use it in your business. It's likely already installed on your computer too! Just click the start button on PC or use finder on a Mac and search for "OneNote". There's even free training videos for you to view to help get you started.

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