Once upon a time, I believed that I was a relatively well organized person. I had good control of customer and supplier information through my CRM. I managed all my activities and the calendar like a champ. I had good control of my team and my projects. So why was I having such a problem with managing my notes?
I have to confess. I like to take notes. I like writing down my thoughts and research and doodles. I like to take notes in meetings because I want to make sure that I remember everything that is being said later. I use a variety of tools to copiously capture information. If I’m in research mode for a white paper or a blog, then I capture pictures in PPT and URL links in Excel spreadsheets. If I’m in meetings, then I usually take along my trusty A4 spiral notebook. Me and my A4 notebook are never really far away from each other. Think Simon and Garfunkel or Batman and Robin. That’s what my spiral notebook was to me.
I liked to make little lines next to actions to be handled at a later date. Or, sometimes I would rewrite these into another “Actions” notebook at which point I would then carry two notebooks. One for notes and one for actions.
But my greatest love was also my biggest downfall. Over time, I had a hard time keeping track of what was where and in which notebook. And if I had filed something digitally, more often than not, I would forget where I filed it and what it was called. Then I would spend a couple of hours looking for the information or if worse came to worst, I would have to start my research all over again.
There had to be a better way
A few weeks ago, I sat in frustration in front of my desk staring at the growing pile of notebooks and yellow stickies. There had to be a better way. I started to daydream. What if there was a way to capture notes in one piece of software? I needed something a bit more powerful than Word. Something similar to a filing cabinet or a 3 ring binder. I wanted to be able to keep all my notes in one place instead of scattered in several different files where I couldn’t find them anymore. I wanted to be able to bring in emails or pictures or links according to topic or project. I wanted to be able to search and find the information easily again.
Ask and Ye Shall Receive
What does one do when in search of the holy grail? Well, ask Google, of course:
Google, as always, pointed me in the right direction. Read that first line. “The Best Note Taking Software for the Paper Note Taker.” I knew that I had struck gold when I saw that. Someone actually understood my problem and knew how to solve it! I excitedly clicked on that link, as well as the other three that followed and I was not disappointed.
OneNote is my dream come true
OneNote is a digital notebook which can store just about anything, is accessible from almost anywhere and can even be shared with friends and colleagues, if I want. No more spiral notebooks for me. I can keep everything in one place and organized exactly the way I want it to be organized. I can easily find anything I want in my notes with a super strong built in Search function. I can store notes/ actions on my iPhone and then it automatically syncs to the PC and back again.
How I use OneNote:
1x1 meetings: I create a separate file for each person that I have a 1x1 with. All to do’s are highlighted as actions and can be followed up in the next meeting.
Blogs posts: I keep an ongoing list of ideas and research associated with each blog post. I write on each topic as time permits and develop the idea little by little.
Meeting preparation: Before each meeting, I create a list of questions and topics to discuss. I capture all information related to that meeting together in one place.
And the piece de resistance…..
OneNote Tasks Sync with SuperOffice
With meeting notes always come actions items.
As you can see in my handwritten notes above, I get a lot of actions and follow- ups in my daily work. I either get actions which I need to complete for myself or I have actions which I need to give to someone else. How does OneNote handle these? Why immediately, of course. All I need to do is to highlight the action, set it as an Outlook task with date, owner and follow-up time. Each of these tasks syncs to Outlook which then syncs with SuperOffice CRM. So whichever program you prefer to work in, OneNote works.
Are you a closet note-taker or maybe you’re just looking for a way to get more organized and productive? Give OneNote a try. You won’t regret it. And, by the way,don’t forget to download it on your mobile phone too. If you try it, drop me a line and tell me what you think.