Digital planning, part 2: Microsoft OneNote

Digital planning, part 2: Microsoft OneNote

Welcome to the second part of my digital planning and productivity series! The parts are…

Microsoft OneNote

Today’s post is dedicated to Microsoft OneNote because I have so much to say about it! First of all, stop rolling your eyes, I am totally recommending a Microsoft product. More than that, I’m actually singing its praises. It’s intuitive, functional and aesthetically pleasing – not qualities I usually associate with Microsoft, but there you have it. I was pleasantly surprised and I think you will be too.

OneNote is basically a collection of notebooks (as few or as many as you like) which you can divide into sections and then pages. It feels natural because it works just like an physical notebook or binder and it fits with how my brain operates – I function best when I can file and categorise things but also have the freedom to go stream-of-consciousness when I need to.

You can include tables, images, links, audio and other files as well as straight-up text, and everything is easily customisable. You can choose colours for your notebooks, sections, page and table backgrounds, text, and highlighters, and there’s a variety of bullet point options and tags which are reminiscent of a bullet journal key (there are even tick boxes that you can actually tick).

If you love bullet journaling but want to go digital, OneNote is a seriously epic way to do that. Some people have completely recreated bullet journal layouts as OneNote pages (have a search online for those if you want inspiration) but because I use Google Calendar and Todoist for scheduling and task management, my OneNote houses what would be collections in a bullet journal.

I’m currently running four notebooks:

  • Creative (writing*, photography, blogging, social media and online volunteering)
  • Journal (what it says on the tin – an actual journal)
  • Personal (home and garden, money, physical and mental well-being)
  • Witch (my digital book of shadows)

* planning and resource for writing, not literally the writing itself. I use Scrivener for that.

You can also draw and write by hand in OneNote, with a mouse or touchpad, or a stylus on a touch-screen device. I haven’t used this function at all because I type much more quickly (and legibly) than I write and I’m definitely more into lists and tables than scribbles and doodles, but I can see this being super useful for people who find themselves drawing a lot of mind-maps or circling things for emphasis.

OneNote is available for Windows, Android, Mac OS and iOS, so you can have it on all your devices with seamless syncing. And guess what? It’s free! I considered Evernote as a digital notebook option as I’ve used it before, but although it has a free option, it’s limited in how many devices it will sync across and it constantly hassles you to subscribe to the paid option. Given the choice between the two, I’d go for OneNote every time.

Finally, a quick tip that I wish I’d realised earlier. OneNote has no Undo button or menu option, but you CAN undo things! Simply use ctrl+z on your keyboard 🙂

The final part of this series will be landing on 27th February, when I’ll be talking about Google Keep, HabitBull and Fitbit.

5 Replies to “Digital planning, part 2: Microsoft OneNote”

  1. Really interesting series! I think OneNote is an underated piece of software. I moved back to Apple several years back and OneNote is the only piece of software I miss – yes, I know there are versions on the Mac system, but they are “versions” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel bad for how harshly I prejudged OneNote. I was aware of its existence but assumed it would be clunky and irritating because Microsoft. When I started using it and realised how well it worked, I kind of apologised to it a bit. It looks good and everything is logical and simple, definitely not things I’d generally expect from Microsoft.


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