Using OneNote To Manage Your To-Do List

When it comes to productivity software (to-do lists in particular), OneNote is a clear choice if you need:

  • Elaborate and or complicated notes
    • multimedia attachments
    • pen input and handwriting recognition
    • voice and video recording
  • Detailed pen input
    • sketches overlapping multimedia
    • diagrams mixed with text
  • A less prohibiting structure

If you don’t need any of those things there are more suitable applications out there for you. If you do need all of that stuff, and you’re looking to keep your to-do list in OneNote then this tutorial is for you.

I wrote this particular tutorial to show one way (there are lots of ways – checkbox tags, outlook task integration, etc.) that someone could use OneNote for their to-do list.

OneNote To-Do List Tutorial (25 Steps):

  1. Before anything else, set up your tags. Click the dropdown arrow as shown to show the current list of tags.

  2. At the very bottom of that dropdown you’ll see a button called [Customize Tags…]

  3. Clicking that will take you to the ‘Customize Tags’ window. From here you can create new tags or modify existing ones. For me, I just created new tags.

  4. Customize your tags however you see fit. Some of the tags I created are called “bread loaf” and “bread crumb”. A bread loaf tag represents a task that is too big or complex to sit down and just do. So, wherever I have a bread loaf tag, I should put some thought into creating an associated breadcrumb tag. A bread crumb tag represents something that’s do-able and not too complicated. “Start for 5 minutes” could be a good bread crumb task.

  5. Now you can start making a list and assigning tags.

  6. You may notice, from previous steps, that there are keyboard shortcuts that you can use to assign tags. In fact, it looks like there are 9 shortcuts for that. In the screenshot below, I initially created a blank list and then clicked [Ctrl]+[1] to assign the top item to ‘bread loaf’ and [Ctrl]+[2] to assign the next item to ‘breadcrumb’.

  7. Now toggle the ‘Find Tags’ button to show all of your tags on the right hand side of your OneNote screen.

  8. Now let’s create a linked item by highlighting the words we want to link and then pressing [Ctrl]+[k]. Alternatively, you can right click your highlighted item to get a menu and select the ‘Link…’ button from there.

  9. After that you’ll get the ‘Link’ screen where we can create a new page. After all this, you’ll be able to click the link on your task list and it’ll take you to the linked page.

  10. Now your task list has a linked item! Click your new linked item to populate it with stuff.

  11. I populated my linked page like this:

  12. Now I can go back to where I was, my task list, by pressing [Alt]+[left arrow key] on the keyboard. Once back at the task list, I’ll add more tasks and tags then click the [Refresh Results] button to show my updated ‘tags summary’.

  13. Let’s add even more items!

  14. After adding additional items and tags, press [Refresh Results] again.

  15. If you make your OneNote window big enough, you’ll see a nicely formatted list.

  16. Now let’s imagine that I actually do one of those tasks and need to adjust my list accordingly. First I’ll do the task and then click the task from the ‘Tags Summary’ pane to highlight the entire line item.

  17. Then I’ll press [Ctrl]+[-] to cross out the line item on my list.

  18. Now I’ll press [Ctrl]+[0] to remove all of the tags from that line item in my task list.

  19. At this point, we can update the ‘Tags Summary’ by pressing [Refresh Results]. The updated summary should no longer show the item that we just completed!

  20. Now let’s rename our notebook to something proper, if you haven’t already, and add in some additional sections and pages to it. While you’re there, assign a tag to a task/line from one of your new pages.

  21. Click [Refresh Results] to show your new line item in your summary.

  22. Now create a new notebook called ‘Work’ and throw a task/line item in there before assigning a tag to it. After that, select ‘all notebooks’ as the search criteria for the tags summary.

  23. Click [Refresh Results] and you should be able to see the tags from both the ‘Home’ notebook and the ‘Work’ notebook. Of course, if you were to click the task in your tags summary page, OneNote will promptly escort you to wherever that item appears in your notebooks.

  24. Click the ‘Work’ notebook and change your tags summary search criteria back to ‘This Notebook’. Then click [Refresh Results]. Now you should only see the tagged items from your ‘Work’ notebook.

  25. If you have the OneNote phone app, you can sync all of these changes to it. Here’s what it looks like on my phone after a sync:

I wrote this interesting [geeky] poem in 2004

I’m thinking of studying,
And this thought … I’d like to keep it.
I don’t feel in place at this party;
I’d rather be doing physics.

Complex fractions and
Instantaneous accelerations oh my
Nah, I’m not drinking,
And I don’t feel like picking a fight.

The average velocity of my motions in time:
What a wonderful thought.
Maybe I could go to the other room and study
Without being caught.

If only a person to take my place
And give me a necessary substitution;
I could be doomed, but
Where there’s a problem, there is a solution.

Zip zap, let me think.
What is the given information?
Blip blop, and rink-a-tink.
I found an applicable equation!

Take the change in speed of the party
For a duration of 10 minutes, five consecutive times
Do this and compute the result, then
Compare the rate of change of those five

Now graph the result in a chart of
Change in speed vs. time
At some point the party speed is low.
Connect the points to make a line.

Look at the graph and estimate the amt of time
It will take for the next negative slope.
Pack your bags and patiently wait
For the next opportunity to get up and grab a coke.

When you find an appropriate time,
Go for a soda and then slip out the door.
If someone asks, say you’re going
Out to smoke and will be back in about four.

Problem solved, and now to get home so I can study;
Then I’ll be doing fine.
I think I’ll start on Physics, then play with some integrals
On my TI-89.

1150 dollars … 350 dollars … BYE BYE CASH – HELLO TOYS!!


HP 2500z…

I went out and purchased one of those ricer tablets (as seen in pic above) for 1150 dollars at best buy. Why didn’t I buy it for cheaper online? Well, best buy has a really great 4 year warranty and if I don’t like what I buy, I can return it to the store *cough* but there is normally a 15% restocking fee for electronics and crap like that.

So… how do I like the new tablet? I FRIGGIN HATE IT!!!! The one thing that destroys this tablet for me entirely is the friggin screen. I have NEVER seen such a ridiculously overpowered glare come from a screen. Plus, in tablet mode … the buttons aren’t very tablety. This particular tablet is more of a play thing, overheating and whatnot with it’s ricer graphix card, than a business tablet. So… I decided to return that piece of crap today.

I managed to get that 15% restocking fee waived as well, thank goodness lol.

So, my next tablet will be an IBM x61 tablet – the thinkpad tablets are just soooooooooooo much better than anything else I’ve ever tried. They are durable, sturdy, business like, and the screens are fabulous and not stupidly shiny. I can get an x61 tablet pc for 950 bux from lenovo’s refurb pile online with 4 gigs of ram, vista 64 bit business, 8 cell battery, 150 gig hdd, etc. That’s the cheapest I’ve been able to find ‘em.

But, even still, I’m not going to push the button just yet. I’m going to sit on this tablet pc thought for awhile. Yes, I do have an x41 tablet but it’s just not powerful enough for me, plain and simple, so I’m letting a friend tour it for the weekend with the intention to buy – I’m selling it for dirt cheap since I got it for dirt cheap.

In other news, after getting my 1150 dollars back from best buy *ahhh*, I purchased this from the apple store for 350 bux:


bose quietcomfort 3

All I can really say about these is that they’re stupid expensive but all the headphone guru’s say that they’re just flat out awesome. I wanted some noise cancelling headphones for awhile, and last time I tried these out with my girlfriend, I was really impressed. So… decided to make the plunge.

What am I going to use these expensive thingies fur? Well, mostly for work. At work, I’m on the computer for about 50% of my time and 40% of that time the co-workers near me are talking and gossiping and generally just being leisurely. That’s all good and well, gossip is one hell of a distracter. Those guys always have some interesting crap to say and it totally throws me off task. So, i need a way to completely ignore ALL SURROUNDING NOISES when I want to get things done. These headphones seemed like a good choice, save for the price.

Why did I not buy them online for cheaper? I’m just not that patient. I wanted them now, so I can use them NOW. Simple as that. SO far, they’re pretty kewl. I like the on ear design a lot better than that ear cup thing from the previous version of this headphone.

Some other conclusions:

- Vista adds awesome functionality (flicks, better fingerprint login, better onenoting ocr for whatever reason) to tablet pc’s
– The fingerprint reader is NOT useless, it’s actually great because now I can login to my computer in tablet mode
– touch screen functionality is useless for tablet pc’s except for fullscreen pdf reading
– the screen makes the tablet. if the screen sucks, the tablet sucks
– heat is actually something that should be considered when buying a tablet. if ur tablet catches fire like normal laptops, your tablet is teh suck
– 8 cell is a necessity for a tablet; the more battery life the better
– the pen that comes with the tablet is a VERY IMPORTANT FEATURE that must be considered when buying the tablet. the hp2500z pen has a CLICKING eraser on the end of the pen which sucks balls because everytime you erase something it feels like it’s scratching the screen because you have to apply waaaaay too much pressure to get the thing to click
– onenote is still king if you like to ink, if you prefer typing then evernote will suffice kinduh
– no matter what tablet you buy, videogames in general will SUCK HORRIBLY on it. the hp 2500z has a ricer video card and playing games on it still completely sucked because the screen is sooooo friggin tiny and the graphics card, although powerful compared to other tablets, still sucks. I guess my desktop has spoiled me for games since I’m on a “nice” graphics card and a two larger than necessary screens.
– these new obnoxiously wide widescreens are obnoxious. here’s what they look like:

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^see that? the screens are like 10 inches wide and 1 inch tall. FRIGGIN HORRIBLE, however the thinkpad series x40, x41, x61, all have great sized screens and not that stupid obnoxious ultra wide wide-screen crap. This is another reason why I want the x61 because it’s going to be the last of the mohicans. You see, lenovo already released an x200 with that stupid wide wide-screen crap cuz it’s in high demand I guess. And guess what, that’s friggin gay. X61 > x200 imo just because of the screen

(1pic) I paid 3 dollars for a new 80 dollar lamp. awesome!

I went out in search for a lamp today since my desk didn’t have adequate lighting for any type of reading that isn’t from an lcd screen. Office depot seemed to be a good place to start looking, so that’s where I started and, lucky me, that’s where I finished my search.

There seemed to be a division in the lamps there; half of them were ott-lite’s and the other half were “regular”. Before today, I wouldn’t have paid any attention to any lamp differences, I mean they all give light. Well, after deciding to go with the, what seemed to be, “ricer” (ott-lite) lamps, I decided to choose between a cheaper 40-50 dollar lamp and a more expensive 60-80 dollar lamp.

But, as I often suspect pricetags of being out of date, I figured I’d ask the teller to give me a pricecheck on the more expensive one. “It’s ringing up for three dollars”, said the teller. #%!(#%! ok, sure I’ll take that one. So, today I got a 60-80 ott-lite lamp for $3.00 bux. Here it is sitting on my desk:

Yes, my desk is currently far cleaner than normal just for the sake of your eyes. Also note that I’m using my old keyboard now because *cough* someone *cough* broke my newer one. Same goes for my calculator – friggin ti-89 just decided to die on me, so now I’m using a cheapo 20 dollar calc.

Normally, I don’t have a notebook up there, but this will generally be what my desk will look like for awhile because I’ll be taking notes on all these new books I recently purchased. And that brings me to my final thought; I decided not to pay $150.00 for the Adesso Cyberpad.

Why I’m not going to buy the Adesso Cyberpad

I wanted to use the cyberpad with evernote initially. My goal was to have digital copies of my reading notes that would be searchable. But, I’ve concluded that I don’t have to have searchable reading notes. I think I’ll be perfectly satisfied, for the time being, without searchable notes. I will still make digital copies, however; we have a super scan to pdf machine at work, so I’ll use that for my crap – this saves me from having to burn my own money on a scanner.

The main thing that kind of allowed me to get turned off from the product was the fact that I’d have to “set it up” and deal with connecting/reconnecting it when I want to upload stuff. It wasn’t really a big deal initially, but it gave me some leverage in deciding to say no to the cyberpad. Plus, this technology isn’t really … good, yet. It could be awesome and so compatible with all kinds of things, but currently it’s just not to that point.

Hopefully some “search handwritten-scanned pdf” program will show it’s glorious face and provide an end-all to these expensive old-tech note-taking gadgets. The closest thing I’ve found so far is the ridiculously priced adobe 9 professional. Here are some of the notable features:

Create and reliably share PDF documents
Easily convert any document that prints to PDF to preserve formatting and ensure document integrity.

Easily convert files to PDF
Convert documents to PDF with one-button ease from Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Internet Explorer, Project, Visio, Access, and Publisher, as well as Autodesk® AutoCAD® and Lotus Notes*.

Scan to PDF with OCR
Scan paper documents to PDF and automatically recognize text with optical character recognition (OCR) technology to create compact, searchable PDF documents.

Convert e-mail to PDF
Archive e-mail or e-mail folders from Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes as PDF files to facilitate easy search and retrieval*.

Capture web pages as PDF Enhanced
Convert complete web pages, or just the portions you want*, including or excluding rich and interactive media. PDF versions of web pages are easy to print, archive, mark up, and share.

Convert and share 2D CAD
Convert DWG files to Adobe PDF files without using AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT.

Insert video in PDF files New
Insert FLV or H.264 video in PDF files for direct playback in Acrobat and Adobe Reader.

Work with Acrobat.com New
Use Acrobat.com services with Acrobat to store and share large documents, collect form data, and review documents with virtually anyone, anywhere.

Ahem. So … umm, I’m downloading the trial right now – lets see if this actually works.