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Get Organized: Productivity Tips for OneNote

by Miguel Guhlin

“Looking for productivity tips and tricks for keeping yourself organized?” I asked an audience of campus and district principals, their secretaries and clerks. The response was a resounding “Yes!” Since that session to a packed room, I’ve found myself hunting ways that technology can enhance productivity for those tasked with office work. This blog explores approaches on how you can leverage OneNote to achieve office and professional organization.

Note: Welcome to this third blog in the ongoing series on productivity tools for leaders and do-ers. Check back often to see more!

Digitize to Facilitate Access

“I have so many papers to sort through, how can I better keep track of these?” my secretary JoJo, asked me one day. I hadn’t given much thought to keeping her organized. After all, that’s why I hired her. She had excellent project management and organizational skills. “I have all these purchase orders to keep track of.” We realized that there were TOO many papers, most of them trapped in three-ring binders that bulged around her or were in labeled manila folders in behemoth file cabinets. In theory, we had everything we needed at our fingertips. In practice, finding something for an audit was impossible.

To better facilitate access to thousands of papers, we made the decision to digitize everything. We had one of those fancy copiers that would convert copied pages to PDF. So we used that to create digital copies of all of the department’s documents. This was a great improvement over the paper copies, but still gave us a headache. We ended up with hundreds of folders with PDF documents in each. How could we take the next step to make them searchable?

One solution was to digitize documents, save to a OneNote notebook, and then add search tags for each document. For example, you can create a OneNote digital notebook for each school year. Add tags to each page that describe the item and make it searchable. New documents could be dropped in via email to “me@onenote.com” and sent to a specific notebook section without even opening OneNote. This features makes it easy to snap a picture of a document with Office Lens app and then send it to OneNote, or use OneNote’s built-in imaging tool.

Record Your Meetings

While you won’t want to record every meeting you go to, there are some that are invaluable. That’s why OneNote has built-in recording capabilities, allowing you to save searchable audio recordings along with your handwritten (a.k.a. digital ink) or typed notes in OneNote.

Attach Supporting Documentation

While digitizing to facilitate access works great for paper documents, you can also take existing digital documents relevant to a meeting or project, then drop them into a OneNote page. This is simply drag-and-drop. If a document or resource is on the web, copy and pasting a portion of the document will also include the website where you found it. This makes keeping track of resources online incredibly easy.

Track Problems with Pictures

“Do you see the hole in the ceiling?” I pointed out to my supervisor. This was but the first of several instances where I captured the failure of the maintenance department, who vehemently denied that there was a problem. Who should the supervisor believe? With photos you can take with OneNote, you can capture anything from holes in the ceilings to rats under your desk to how solutions are implemented. These pictures can be quickly organized into OneNote, sent in via email to “me@onenote.com,” or saved directly using the OneNote app on your mobile device. You can also take pictures of problems that arise on your computer and include them. This is helpful for recording strange errors and issues that others need to know about.

Make a Checklist

Create a collaborative checklist that you and your team member(s) can add to, append, or edit. OneNote makes it easy to create To-Do lists and checklists.

Find Out More

Want to learn other ways to save time and be more productive at work? Attend the Productivity Tools for Administrators on Thursday, June 15, 2017 in Austin. The one-day learning experience is guaranteed to provide you a wealth of hands-on activities to ensure you walk away with the tips and techniques you need to do more in less time. Register here.


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