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Hold on Officer, I Wrote it Down Here Somewhere… (Part 2)

April 18, 2012

Last week I recounted to you my harrowing dream experience that brought to light the need for writing things down. I promised to share with you my genius solution for tracking all that important information that races by you every day (and sometimes at night!). Enter   Microsoft’s OneNote. I understand that there are competing note-service applications out there, and if you are already enjoying the benefits of one of them, I am happy for you. But if you have not yet tried one, I would suggest giving OneNote a spin.

OneNote’s interface works just like a notebook – harkening back to our youth. In fact, you can create several notebooks all in one place, each with tabs for different subjects, and pages and sub-pages within each tab. The pages themselves are an inviting, blank slate, and you can write, draw pictures, scribble comments, insert objects and pictures, doodle hearts and flowers, and basically use it just like an actual notebook. OneNote saves automatically as you go along, so you won’t lose any info.

One really fantastic feature is the ability to right-click on an object in another application (say, in your internet browser), and have the highlighted object sent directly to OneNote. You can collect articles and screen clippings this way. You also have the option of attaching documents to your notes, and linking notes with emails, tasks and meeting notes in Outlook.

When it comes time to share your vast collection of knowledge with the outside world, you have several choices. You can email a page of your notes without using copy/paste – OneNote has a selection you can click that appends your page into Outlook with one click. Since OneNote is accessible on the internet from any location, you can also invite others to view your notebook, and you can limit which items they are allowed to view. Those viewers can then comment on your notes, and their comments will be marked so that you know who they are from. Several people can interact in this forum in this manner.

A few other cool functions:

-If you have a tablet PC, you can “hand write” your notes and have it converted to text.

-You can create tables easily in your notes

-You can use a calculator on your notes screen

-You can record audio and synchronize it with your notes, or drag in videos to your pages

-You can draw a picture of your brother getting abducted by aliens and link it to your family’s vacation itinerary

Maybe you will write your notes and never use them. If that’s the case, congratulations! You have some useful information to pass down when you get promoted for being so capable. But maybe one morning you stumble into work after being up all night with your screaming 3-month-old baby. You are covered in spit-up and hoping no one notices. You are still frazzled from arguing with your 5-year-old about whether he can brush his teeth while singing, and you are distracted because you haven’t had time to use the restroom in 3 days. At this point you pull up OneNote, and remember all the things you needed to know for your big meeting in 10 minutes. Relief!

And maybe you should keep a section open for recording those important messages that come to you in dreams. When you choose not to buy a Ficus from a kid in the Congo one day, and thus avoid a long stay in a sketchy prison, you can thank me.

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