I have been an on again, off again user of Microsoft OneNote since it was first released. Back when I had my TabletPC I used it daily, but I stopped when I switched back to my normal laptop. I had to give OneNote 2007 a try though. I had read some good things about the changes on Chris Pratleys OneNote blog, and figured it was worth the time to look again. I am pretty impressed. The program has some very nice, and very subtle interface changes that make using it much easier. I am especially fond of the notebook organizer tool which lets me see all my notebooks, and all of the sections in them with a quick click of the mouse.
What really made me want to write something up though was the hyperlink functionality. I cannot remember if this was in OneNote 2003 or not, but I think it is this function that will make me stick with OneNote in the long run. My introduction to personal productivity and organization/time management was via the Franklin Quest (now Franklin Covey) system. I remember reading as much as I could about Hyrum Smith and his company’s method for personal productivity. I even checked out a video from the Vermillion Public Library, one of his seminars on Time Management. The thing I always liked the most about that system was the Daily Record of Events, and the simple date notation you would use on appointments to refer back to the content. In the Franklin system, if you made notes today for an appointment next Tuesday, you would mark the appointment on Tuesday and add todays date in parentheses after the appointment. For example, If I made notes about a luncheon for next Tuesday on todays record of events, I would mark next Tuesday with Luncheon (9/1). This would let me know that I could refer back to today’s daily record of events for the details (maybe the address).
What is cool in OneNote is that I can do this one better. I can make a note in OneNote on a page I have created for todays notes, my electronic daily record of events. OneNote integrates into Outlook better now, so I can take my notes, select one that is to be made into an appointment, click Tools | Create Outlook Item | Create Outlook Appointment (or press Alt+Shift+A), and I have a new appointment in Outlook. Whats even better though, is that I can right click on any item or page in OneNote before I create the item, and select Copy Hyperlink to this… (either page or paragraph depending on what you right click on), and then paste that link into my item. Instead of adding (9/1) next to my appointment like in the paper world, I can add an actual link, in the appointment back to my daily notes in OneNote. It works great.
I am actually adding hyperlinks inside of pages when I work on a project over multiple days and information gets spread out. For large projects I create a separate notebook, but for small things I just use the daily notes section to keep track of what is going on. I like this method of working because it relies on Outlook which is my primary organizer at work anyway, and it keeps me from having to create a different notebook section for each little item. I am much better remembering information from a rough day of when I collected it anyway.