My grandma’s favorite thing to say about me as a child is that I started making lists as soon as I could hold a crayon. I’ve used chalkboards, dry-erase boards, paper, the wall (not recommended unless you enjoy being grounded), day planners, Excel, palm pilots (remember those???), phones, tablets. The last few years I’ve really been trying to find a way to merge my love for lists and technology through organization apps.
The sad truth is that I’ve eventually gone back to paper and pencil after every app I’ve tried. Why would a high tech girl like me opt to write out lists by hand instead of using an app? It’s because I am so demanding when it comes to organization. I couldn’t find a program that did everything I wanted and automatically updated all of my devices. Better to keep one hardcopy of the list with me at all times.
Except I leave my lists in random places and can’t remember where. And I have about a million lists.
I make to-do lists, grocery lists, packing lists, home improvement lists, wish lists, project shopping lists, price lists, budgets, notes…everything. And I want all of these lists to be in the same place—but organized. Which brings me to my organization demands.
I also like to research and plan. Vacations, large purchases, for new babies, for home improvement projects, weekly menus and recipes, refinishing projects, special occasions, writing projects…you name it. Planning for each of these things has different stages, and different needs. It’s not just lists.
So, I require über list-making utilities combined with the ability to compile information from various sources, in many formats, and a way to organize all of this in the same place. AND most importantly, I need to be able to manage it on all of my many, many devices without having to update those devices manually.
I’ve finally met my match! I’ve been using OneNote for a few months now and haven’t even been tempted to go back to my archaic mode of organization. The sad thing is that I’ve owned it for years and I didn’t even know it. You probably own it already too. It’s part of the Microsoft Office suite, one of the programs you ignore alongside Access and Publisher. Why, oh why, didn’t somebody tell me about OneNote when I was in school? I could have uploaded my professor’s presentations to OneNote and made notes and highlights directly on the slides!
What’s so great about it?
For starters you organize information by notebooks, within those notebooks you create tabs, and within those tabs, as many pages as you want.
What do you put on those pages?
Anything you want, from anywhere you want. You can upload Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, screen clippings from internet searches, screen clippings from anything else, photos, audio recordings. You can create your own lists, and notes.
And seriously. I love the ability to make check lists. Did you see? In the picture above? There are little red check marks in the boxes. I am not satisfied with my to-do list unless I can check things off and see everything I’ve accomplished.
I have my personal notebook, where I have tabs for my daily to-do lists, menus (with recipes), packing lists, shopping lists, my innumerable logins, doctor contact info. All the random information I need access to in order to run my household.
I also have a notebook for the blog, to organize my post ideas, company contacts, gadgets I’m interested in reviewing…etc. Posts I’ve already done. Outlines, meeting notes and agendas.
When there’s a need to amass information, ideas and lists I use OneNote to do it, because no matter what device I have at hand I can access the OneNote app. Everything I do automatically updates to the cloud drive, so the next time I pull it up on a different device my changes are already there. And I can share specific notebooks with other people when I want to–even if they don’t own the Office suite. The App is free, and there’s OneNote Online (same deal as Office Online that I wrote about here). So even if you don’t own Office, you can still use OneNote Online (OneNote.com) for free, along with the app. Everybody wins.
Boom. Everything I need in one program/ app. So, if this is a revelation to you, that OneNote is a part of the Microsoft Office suite that you already own, you are in good company. This would be a great time to start reaping those organizational benefits.
I based my review on the 2013 version of OneNote that comes with a current subscription to Office 365, which is also part of the 2013 Office Suite. My subscription of Office 365 was provided to me for free by Microsoft—because I asked for it. And they are nice.
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I’m a technological enthusiast with a completely unrelated degree in English Literature. I’ve also been known to dabble in photography and DIY furniture refinishing, with occasional stints of fitness sprinkled among all of the above.