Productivity Booster: How to keep tons of information easily organized

by | Apr/8/2009

“Mike, I can’t live without OneNote – do you use it?” Enough IT professionals and executives at organizations who hire me as a consultant asked me this that I decided to give Microsoft OneNote one more try. Do you know what? I wonder how I got along without it too. I had originally thought it had to be used with my tablet PC, and I am finding that the program offers a lot even without using the tablet.

Microsoft offers a trial download so you can see if you like it too before you pay any money.  The layout is very simple. You create “notebooks” that have colored tab sections. Each section contains multiple pages. Each “page” can be many pages long and contain information you copy and paste from web sites, other documents, e-mail messages, etc.

I have notebooks for books I’m working on, notes to myself, etc. In my Books notebook, I make tabs for each one of my books. Inside each book, I create pages for each event and the characters in the book. That way, I can easily drag and drop pages if I decide to rearrange the action in my book.

I handle presentations the same way as books – makes it very easy for me to storyboard the presentation before creating the slides, flash, and videos.

Instead of leaving messages in my e-mail “inbox” I can organize them: Requests from clients go into my “actions” tab on the “customer requests” page so I handle them quickly. Articles I want to read go into my “research” tab onto a page that describes the type of research. When I’m ready to research – everything is organized.

I find many applications allow me to right click and “send to OneNote” too.  I used to keep so many lists in Word. I have a detailed file structure so I can find the word documents when I need them. Thinking of “one idea” takes a few minutes to enter including having to find, open, edit, and save the Word file. Now all my lists are in one easy to reach place whenever I need them.

This economy has resulted in my being very busy and I am finding new tools to increase productivity. OneNote is one of my favorite applications now. Give it a try.

If you are a Mac user, I’m told there is a similar program called Circus Ponies Notebook from