Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

Microsoft OneNote

I really enjoy my job. I love the people and the large variety of projects I get to work on. But this does come with its own problems.

As the number of projects had ramped up I had started to lose track of what tickets I needed to work on. It was not too bad for the big projects which I was fully engaged in, but even here I could lose things. Smaller tickets were even easier to forget.

I had tried to keep a paper list, because who does not love being able to tick things off as done, but the lists could easily get lost and it was hard to prioritise the list without rewriting the whole thing out again.

Then there were all the notes that might go against an item on that list, for instance contact details or links to pages. Easy to add to that paper list, but I have had issues doing this with electronic lists.

I have used Wunderlist a bit, which is a nice app for creating lists, but it does not let me keep notes. I have tried Evernote too, but just could not get my head round it.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed my colleague John using something for notes and lists and asked him what it was. “OneNote” he said. This looked good, but then I noticed it was a Microsoft product. Would it work on Mac?

Yes it would! I downloaded it and wondered how to start.

It looked a bit different from the PC version (better I think) and did not really have any onboarding, but once I got going it blew my mind.

This is just what I had been looking for. Somewhere to keep to do lists and relevant notes. After a week of using it at work I downloaded it onto my iPad for personal use!

No longer do I have to write a post-it note of things I need to get done this weekend - it is all there on the iPad ready to be added to, or worked on at any time.

I love the way I can have different ‘notebooks’ which can have their own ‘sections’ and ‘pages’.

For instance I have a notebook called ‘Lab testing’ (I should probably rename this ‘Customer research’) which has a section called ‘App testing’ (in the hope that I will be able to run more sessions like this in the future - each will need its own section). Within ‘App testing’ are the pages. These include an overall ‘to do list’, a page on the labs I researched, a page for my screener, a page on participant recruitment, a page for my test script, a page for my notes from the actual sessions and a page with the results I want to share with the rest of the team.

Everything sitting together in one place so I can easily find anything I need every time. I also have to do lists ordered by sprint, so I know exactly what I should have done for each sprint and what things got rolled over.

And on my personal account I have Christmas organised in one place rather than on many bits of paper, half of which I need to keep hidden so my husband does not accidentally find out what I have bought him.

This tool had just made my life so much easier and the only thing it could do better right now is allow me to share pages and notebooks between my two different accounts - it says I can do this, but I have been unsuccessful so far.

If you are looking for something to get yourself organised and like keeping everything together in one place, this is the app for you. I know it will not work for everyone, but I cannot recommend it enough - give it a try!

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