Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Using OneNote to track your tasks

David Rasmussen, part of the Microsoft OneNote team has begun blogging.  His first two posts are really, really great.  He talks about his search for the perfect task/time management system and how he’s found the combination of Outlook and OneNote to be perfect.  He says:

With the combination of OneNote 2007 and Outlook 2007 I now have a system that works very well for me. Here's how I manage my task list and workflow now.

  1. I created a ToDo page in OneNote in my general section. This always contains my current to do list and grows and evolves as my tasks change.
  2. I have a direct keyboard shortcut to this page, Ctrl-Alt-T, so that I can instantly go to this page whether OneNote is running or not. This works from anywhere. See my post on Keyboard Shortcuts for Favorite OneNote Pages for how to do this.
  3. I write each task on a line.
  4. I hit Ctrl-Shift-1 to mark that item as an Outlook task for today (or Ctrl-Shift-2 is tomorrow, 3 is this week, 4 is next week, Ctrl-Shift-K pops up the Outlook task dialog for custom date and fields). This process gets the tasks roughly distributed on my calendar correctly.
  5. That line gets flagged as an "Outlook Task" in OneNote. It gets added to the task list in Outlook, and there is two way sync between them. If it gets marked done in Outlook it shows up as done in OneNote and vice versa.
  6. There's also cross linking. A link is created in the Outlook task that will jump you directly back to this item in OneNote. Or you can right click the flag in OneNote to open the matching task in Outlook.
  7. I add hierarchy to the task list and manage the structure and priorities of my tasks in OneNote by indenting lines. Or change order and priorities by moving things up and down. Alt-Shift + left arrow, right arrow, up arrow, or down arrow are great keyboard shortcuts for doing this easily and quickly.
  8. I manage my time on the Outlook calendar. The tasks show up in the "task well" below each day on the calendar. I can drag the task onto a slot on the calendar to schedule it. I can drag it out to a different day if I want to defer it. This is very quick time management.

Though I often add tasks in OneNote (which then sync to Outlook) I’ve not moved my task creation “center of gravity” to OneNote, nor did I ever think I might.  I’m going to give this some thought though.  I use OneNote for my “Getting Things Done” system, so all my project files are there.  It would be only a slight shift to do my task creation there as well.


Anyone else have any experience with doing this?  I picked up two other tips as well.  The first was that you can use “Alt-Shift+arrow” for moving items around on the page.  That’s pretty sweet and great for re-ordering lists, tasks or whatever.  The second was using the new hyper links in OneNote to create a keyboard shortcut.  I’m still trying to get my mind around the fact that OneNote uses “usable” hyper links.  I hadn’t mentally extended that to creating desktop shortcuts or keyboard Ctrl-Alt-shortcuts. 


I hope David keeps blogging!  If the first two posts are any indication, it’ll be worth reading.


1 comment:

campbelljr said...

I use notepad. No Outlook Sync. Works better for me than Outlook. But I'll give OneNote a shot when Office 2007 comes out.