Use Quick Notes

Don’t let random ideas interrupt your productivity

Good ideas can happen at any time – which is good and bad.  While creativity is key to competitive advantage, you still have to maintain productivity if you want to get anything done.  David Allen goes into great detail describing how the mind is for having ideas, not holding them.

So, how to clear your head without losing these great ideas?  I recommend the use of Quick Notes.  Windows is able to call up Quick Notes from any application.  You just have to use the keyboard shortcut ÿ+n (Windows key and the letter n). This will pop up a stickie-note window.  Now, simply jot down the thought or idea on this note, with just enough information that you can make sense of it later – do NOT try to capture and clarify.  Just capture the idea.

After capturing the idea, go back to whatever you were working on, giving it your full attention.

Later, such as your next break or at the end of the day, review your Quick Notes. At this time you can make an initial attempt at clarifying the idea, expanding and filling in details such you can identify any actions that you need to take.

Creating Quick Notes

  1. From whatever application you are using, use ÿ+n.
  2. Type your thought, idea or reminder on the new note.
  3. Return to whatever you were doing.

This is part of a series on productivity using Office 365.

Usar Quick Notes (notas rápidas)

No dejes que las ideas aleatorias interrumpan tu productividad

Las buenas ideas pueden ocurrir en cualquier momento, lo cual es bueno y malo.  Mientras que la creatividad es la clave para la ventaja competitiva, todavía tienes que mantener la productividad si quieres hacer algo.  David Allen explica con gran detalle describiendo cómo la mente es para tener ideas, no para mantenerlas.

Entonces, ¿cómo despejar la cabeza sin perder estas grandes ideas?  Recomiendo el uso de Notas Rápidas (Quick Notes).  Windows es capaz de llamar a Quick Notes desde cualquier aplicación.  Sólo tienes que usar el atajo de teclado ÿ+n. Esto hará que aparezca una ventana de notas.  Ahora, simplemente anota el pensamiento o la idea en esta nota, con la suficiente información para que puedas darle sentido más tarde – NO intentes guardar y aclarar.  Sólo guarda la idea.

Después de guardar la idea, vuelve a lo que estabas trabajando, dándole toda tu atención.

Más tarde, como en su próximo descanso o al final del día, revise sus Notas Rápidas. En este momento puedes hacer un intento inicial de aclarar la idea, ampliando y completando los detalles, de manera que puedas identificar cualquier acción que necesites hacer.

Creación de Quick Notes

  1. Desde cualquier aplicación que estés usando, usa ÿ+n.
  2. Escriba su pensamiento, idea o recordatorio en la nueva nota.
  3. Vuelva a lo que estaba haciendo.

Esto es parte de una serie sobre la productividad usando Office 365.

Usar las notas de reunión

Antes, durante y después de las reuniones

La función de notas de reuniones de office 365 conecta el Calendario de Outlook con Microsoft OneNote. Sirve como una gran herramienta para prepararse antes de una reunión, guardar elementos de acción durante la reunión y luego revisar las notas después de la reunión.

Dentro de Microsoft Outlook, el Calendario guarda las reuniones y citas.  Al seleccionar una reunión, aparece el icono de Meeting Notes en la cinta de la barra de herramientas. Si usted es el organizador de la reunión, tiene la opción de tomar notas para todos. De lo contrario, puede optar por tomar notas sólo para usted.

Una vez que elija si desea compartir sus notas, Microsoft Office crea una nueva página en OneNote.  La página incluirá los detalles de la reunión como una sección de encabezado.  Debajo del encabezado, se proporciona un espacio para tomar notas.  Si tiene una tableta con lápiz, puede utilizar este espacio para tomar notas escritas a mano.

Si alguna de las notas requiere una acción, puede marcar ese elemento para su seguimiento mediante la función Tareas de Outlook.  Los elementos marcados aparecerán en la lista de tareas de Outlook y en Microsoft To Do.

La función Notas de la reunión facilita la búsqueda de las notas guardadas de varias maneras.  Si tiene una estructura de OneNote bastante organizada, puede, por supuesto, navegar por las carpetas de OneNote para localizar la nota.  Si recuerda el tema de la reunión, los asistentes o las palabras clave, puede utilizar esta información en el campo de búsqueda de OneNote.  Si sabe cuándo se celebró la reunión, probablemente la forma más fácil de encontrar las Meeting Notes sea abrir el elemento del Calendario de Outlook y hacer clic en Notas de la reunión.  Office localizará y abrirá la Nota de reunión asociada a ese elemento del Calendario. De este modo, las Notas de reunión le permiten prepararse antes de la reunión guardando sus propios elementos de debate y recordatorios.  Durante la reunión, puede anotar respuestas y otros elementos de interés. Después de la reunión, puede revisar sus notas para identificar y luego marcar cualquier elemento de acción.

Creación de notas de reunión

  1. En el Calendario de Outlook, cree o seleccione un elemento.
  2. En la ficha Reunión, haga clic en Meeting Notes.
  3. En la ventana emergente, elija si desea crear notas compartidas o tomar notas por su cuenta.

Office creará una Meeting Note en OneNote.

Esto es parte de una serie sobre la productividad usando Office 365.

Use Meeting Notes

Before, during and after meetings

The meeting notes feature of Office 365 connects Outlook Calendar with Microsoft OneNote. It serves as a great tool for preparing prior to a meeting, capturing action items during the meeting and then reviewing notes after the meeting.

Within Microsoft Outlook, Calendar captures meetings and appointments.  When you select a meeting, the Meeting Notes icon displays in the toolbar ribbon. If you are the meeting organizer, you have the option of taking notes for everyone. Otherwise, you can choose to take notes just for yourself.

Once you choose whether to share your notes, Microsoft Office creates a new page in OneNote.  The page will include the meeting details as a header section.  Below the header, a space is provided for taking notes.  If you have a tablet with pen capabilities, you can use this space to capture handwritten notes.

If any of the notes represents an action, you can flag that item for follow-up using the Outlook Tasks feature.  Flag items will show up in the Outlook Task list and in Microsoft To Do.

The Meeting Notes feature makes it easy to find your captured notes in multiple ways.  If you have a fairly organized OneNote structure, you can of course browse through your OneNote folders to locate the note.  If you recall the meeting subject, attendees or key words, you can use this information in the OneNote Search field.  If you know when the meeting occurred, probably the easiest way to find the Meeting Notes is to open the Outlook Calendar item and click Meeting Notes.  Office will then locate and open the Meeting Note associated with that Calendar item.

Thus, Meeting Notes allows you to prepare before the meeting by capturing your own discussion items and reminders.  During the meeting, you can capture responses and other items of interest. After the meeting, you can review your notes to identify and then flag any action items.

Creating Meeting Notes

  1. In Outlook Calendar, create or select an item.
  2. In the Meeting tab, click on Meeting Notes.
  3. In the pop-up window, choose whether to create shared notes or to take notes on your own.

Office creates a Meeting Note in OneNote.

This is part of a series on productivity using Office 365.

Sharpening the Saw

I vowed to use 2019 as an experiment in rebuilding my productivity process in order to address these weak points.

A year ago I found that although the method I was using with OneNote was not necessarily broken, it certainly was not as effective as I needed it to be.  Here is how the original recommendations stacked up with regular usage:

  • Keep It Stupidly Simple – As the amount of data captured increased, the notebook-minimalism approach just did not work.
  • Quick Notes as the Inbox – This worked well, with Quick Notes becoming the clearing house for nearly everything.
  • Set Up Send To – So, if Quick Notes is still a good idea, we still need to set up the Send To feature.
  • Use Meeting Notes – Still a good idea.
  • Tag Actions – Actions still need to be tagged, but custom flags (even a few) became a maintenance burden.
  • Date Actions – To take advantage of sorts, we had to change our system settings for dates.  This had some impact on other applications, such as Excel.
  • Search People, Place and Things – Still a good idea, especially if compared to a plethora of custom tags.
  • Keep OneNote on OneDrive – Mostly yes, but in itself it is not adequate for sharing and collaboration.
  • Daily Routines – Still a key part of staying productive.
  • Work Journal – This turns out to be a personal tool that does not necessarily apply to everyone.

So, I vowed to use 2019 as an experiment in rebuilding my productivity process in order to address these weak points.  Now, the list looks more like:

In the coming weeks I will be posting more about each of these.

Afilando la sierra

Hace un año descubrí que aunque el método que estaba usando con OneNote estaba funcionando bien , ciertamente no era tan efectivo como yo necesitaba que lo fuera. Así fue como las recomendaciones dadas previamente se acumularon con el uso regular:

  • Mantenlo tontamente simple – A medida que la cantidad de datos capturados aumentaba, el enfoque de minimalismo del cuaderno simplemente no funcionaba.
  • Quick Notes como bandeja de entrada – Esto funcionó bien, con Quick Notes convirtiéndose en el sistema de procesamiento para casi todo.
  • Configurar “Send to ” – Así que, si Quick Notes sigue siendo una buena idea, todavía tenemos que configurar la función “Send to”.
  • Usar Notas de la Reunión – Sigue siendo una buena idea.
  • Etiquetar acciones – Las acciones todavía necesitan ser etiquetadas, pero las banderas personalizadas (incluso algunas) se convirtieron en una carga de mantenimiento.
  • Acciones de fecha – Para aprovechar las clases, tuvimos que cambiar la configuración del sistema para las fechas. Esto tuvo algún impacto en otras aplicaciones, como Excel.
  • Buscar personas, lugares y cosas – Sigue siendo una buena idea, especialmente si se compara con una plétora de etiquetas personalizadas.
  • Mantener OneNote en OneDrive – En su mayor parte sí, pero en sí mismo no es adecuado para compartir y colaborar.
  • Rutinas diarias – Sigue siendo una parte clave para mantenerse productivo.
  • Diario de trabajo – Resulta ser una herramienta personal que no necesariamente se aplica a todo el mundo.

Por lo tanto, me comprometí en el año 2019 a experimentar para reconstruir mi proceso de productividad con el fin de abordar estos puntos débiles. Ahora, la lista parece más bien la siguiente:

En las próximas semanas publicaré más sobre cada uno de estos puntos.

Tag Search in ONWin10

I use ON16 on a day-to-day basis, but keep checking back on the ONW10 version.  When I went in today, I found the tag search was available.  However, I found it still falls short.

The search appears to based on the label for the tag.  For example, if you use the out-of-the-box tag “Critical” (!), you have to enter “critical” in the search box.  So, you can search for custom tags but you do it by the tag label, not from a drop down of available tags.

The implication here is that ONW10 does not differentiate between a box that is checked versus non-checked.

Dated Checklists

In a previous post, we looked at how adding dates to tags allows viewing To Do lists sorted by when the action should be done.  One way to take advantage of this is by using a preparation checklist.

In my case, I have certain tasks that I perform in preparation for delivering a classroom session.  In particular:

  • 25 days prior to the class: Send a quote for the class, reconfirming the class as originally scheduled.
  • 3 weeks prior to class: Review any special requirements for the class, such as setting up scenarios in the training sandbox.
  • 2 weeks prior to the class: Confirm travel plans
  • 1 week prior to the class: Print/ship participant materials
  • 2 days prior to class: Dry run and review content
  • Day before class: Stage my instructor materials

In order to capture these in my daily plans, I use an Excel spreadsheet to calculate the dates, counting back from the class delivery date.

Excel Sheet with date calcs

In this case, B1 contains the class name, with the scheduled date in B2.  Cells B5:B13 contain the lead times for each of the preparation tasks in column A. Cells D5:D10 rolls back weekend days to the previous Friday. Finally, E5:E10 simply combines columns C and A.

Once the dates are calculated, E6 becomes the title of the OneNote page.  Cells E5:E10 are copied and pasted into the body of the page. I then add checkbox tags to each item.

Opening the Tags Summary pane, the checkbox items are listed and sorted by date, with the first task in the sequence at the top of the list.  As more classes are added, the Tags Summary builds to include all preparation items.

This process minimizes the chance of getting so caught up in preparing for a class that the upcoming classes are neglected.

If it Ain’t Broke, Break it!

It’s been a while since we restructured our OneNote to fit the ‘SecretWeapon’ methodology (https://thesecretweapon.org/).  Overall, this has been a qualified success.

As we come to the close of the year, and the start of a new one, it is time to take inventory of the past, and gaze into the future.  Looking backwards, we started to see the impact the very large notebooks is having.  In some cases, it has resulted in corruption of a notebook (very bad).  Generally, though, where we see the practical impact is on mobile.  It appears that anytime that OneNote does a full stop on a mobile device, it has to perform a reload of data.  When we are out and about, and internet speeds can be choked, this can be quite a nuisance.  In particular, it truly interferes with the “quick note” concept – that is, get things out of our head quickly and get back to what we were doing.

Looking forward, Microsoft definitely talks to collaboration being the key to the future.  As such, our notes should be available to anyone who would benefit from them. For instance, our notes on a specific project should be shared with the whole project team.  However, if we are using the single notebook approach then we cannot share just a subset of our notes.

So, these two perspectives – large notebooks are slow notebooks, and visible information is good information – require some deep thought on how to properly organize the OneNote environment.  The biggest drawback is simultaneously the biggest strength of the ‘big notebook’ strategy: we don’t have to remember where we put something because Search is smarter than we will ever be.  If we break up our big notebook and put the pieces in Team sites scattered across the ether, we have to tell Search all of the places our something could be.  Further, we must load all of those notebooks  into OneNote before we can search them.  Ooof.

In that spirit, we are going to use 2019 as another experiment – an experiment where we break and then try to renew the Keep It Stupidly Simple (KISS) rule. We will break out notebooks and put them up for display.  While doing this, we will work on KISS strategies on how to find things when we need them.

To Do Just not Done Yet

Last year, Microsoft released To-Do which was derived from Wunderlist.  The promise was all to-do’s in one place, a focus on today’s activities and integration with Office 365.  I looked at it as a possible bridge for OneNote Windows 10 while that version of OneNote awaits tag search.  What I found was much to-do about nothing.

Pros

  • To-Do offers a quick snapshot of the Tasks residing in Outlook.
  • Since the Tasks actually exist in Outlook, additional functionality can be found in Outlook (e.g., sorting and filtering).
  • My Day does allow the user to focus on just what you have chosen for today.

Cons

  • No reporting on the past dates.  For example, if you want to review last week’s tasks for completing your time sheet, you can’t do that in To-Do (but you can do that in Outlook).
  • Although it can sort, the sorts available just are not that useful (but again, you can do it in Outlook).
  • To-Do task notes cannot include links, such as to your work notes, or a relevant web site (wait for it – Outlook!).

Essentially, if you use To-Do, you end up spreading activity management across three applications:

  • Focused activity list: To-Do
  • Notes on activities: OneNote
  • Review completed activities: Outlook

Right now, I can do all three in Outlook. But for other reasons, I prefer to keep everything in OneNote:

  • Focused activity list: OneNote
  • Notes on activities: OneNote
  • Review completed activities: OneNote

So, To-Do offered no functionality or features that were not already available in OneNote.  Using To-Do means opening another window and scattering information across multiple applications.  This seems to go against the rule of Keeping It Stupidly Simple.