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:


Try Qumana, it’s cool, it’s free, it’s simple

If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I love to play around with my web services and my programs. This can be a good and bad thing, considering I’m using windows to download things (i want a pretty mac with no viruses) still and my efficiency level isn’t quite up to par at the moment. And I’ll accept those risks for the time being. It’s not all bad, after all; sometimes I do come across little gems of goodness that deserve some praise. And that brings me to today’s post. I’ve found another cool program!

This program, Qumana, is for use with blogs and blog type things -and email. Bear with me while I describe this thing real quick. Basically the cool part about it is that you get to log into any of your blogging services, and in my case I’ve got a couple different ones (blogger & wordpress), and you can edit an earlier post, or you can post to that blog. So that is one basic thing that’s pretty neat to have for free. But there’s something else about this program that puts it just a little higher on the scale of ‘neat programs’.


I’ve been playing with my new blog—ProBlogging How to—for a while now. First thoughts, I really like it. Qumana connects in a cinch. I’ve been cross-posting and re-posting without problems. 

original page: Further review of … I like it!


It has a drag and drop feature that works like this: when you’re looking at a webpage, and you see something, anything, that’s on that webpage that you’d like to blog about, all you do is click and drag the item to the Qumana square at the bottom left (or wherever you chose to position it) of your screen. You can do this several times over, until you feel you’ve gathered enough information on the topic of your choice. Once that’s done, then you right click on the little Qumana block and press “Post Collected Items”.
Now, you will see a posting screen on your computer with all of the items that you’ve put in the box. From this point, you can move things around, and make things prettier, and edit stuff, and basically have a good time in your little posting screen. Once all is done, you just hit the post button! And it’ll post it straight to whichever blog you chose to post to.
The Qumana folks had this to say this programs coolness and abilities and stuff:


Qumana is for smart, experienced bloggers who want maximum freedom in their blogging life — the freedom to post to multiple blogs and blog platforms[…] 

  • Insert keyword-specific ads in one click
  • WYSIWYG Ad banner designer to customize ads to your blog
  • DropPad – gather links, text, and pictures by dragging them to a resizeable desktop pad
  • Create media-rich posts of images and text together
  • WYSIWYG editor
  • Edit old posts from any of your blogs
  • Offline editing to work at your own pace
  • One-click posting to one or more blogs
  • Technorati tagging – one click insertion of tags, with editing option
  • Multi-window editing
  • Seamless publishing and cross-publishing
  • Integration with all major blog platforms
  • Easy image uploading
  • Built in image resizer for large images
  • Simple image alignment
  • Spell check and Thesaurus
  • Save as HTML or RTF for offline editing

original page:


If you do a lot of blogging, and if you like to update more than one blog, then this program is definitely a MUST HAVE. You might even simply use it as just a blog client so you don’t have to go to a webpage to update your stuff.

Have at it. Download the .exe file of Qumana here.

Technorati Tags : ,

windows alternatives: w.bloggar, blogjet, ecto, and I’m sure there’s more

An Example of Flow and Productivity From My Computer

After pressing [ctrl]+[shift]+[z], which are the shortcut operators I assigned with my quick command software, I type in “firefox? to start up my firefox browser – actually, my version of firefox is deerpark because I like to play with beta versions. I don’t use a lot of firefox plugins, however, because too much stuff makes ewonks productivity plumet. Once firefox is good and loaded, I’ll open up two tabs and type in “ and “ These services are Gmail and Google Reader. You may be wondering why I don’t just put a big button somewhere instead of going through the trouble of typing it all out. The answer to that is simple: I type faster than I can move my mouse.

First I’ll read all of the new email in my box. Then I’ll go and read my news feeds. It may be beneficial for you to know how my incoming mail is never “a lot?. It’s pretty simple: I don’t accept forwards like chainletters and crap from anyone, I don’t subscribe to shit that sends a crap load of email and nonsense to my inbox (that’s what my OTHER email account is for – I call this the bullshit account, and it’s only used to register on sites that I’m “unsure? about), I don’t get any newsletters because I know I’d never read them anyway, and I don’t have my email posted all over the internet for robots to snipe.

Anyways, I go through my inbox like so: If there’s an email that I want to respond to or re-read, I’ll press the “star item? button, and then I’ll press the “archive all? button. Archiving all basically moves everything from my inbox to my archive – this keeps things clean and neat for my eyeball pleasure. No, I don’t really have to put any email in a folder because gmail has a really REALLY nice search feature built in. Yay. After I’ve archived everything, I’ll go to my starred section and scroll through, unstarring things as I’ve had my way with them. And if there is an email that I’m not done with, for instance I might want to write a response back to someone that would take longer than 10 minutes, then I’ll write down a note about it in the inbox of my hipster pda for later processing.

My feeds are all quality feeds. I don’t subscribe to anything that I not completely interested in, and try to keep my list of feeds to a minimum. The google reader allows me to scroll my feeds with minimal effort via shortcuts. I just press [j] to go to the next feed or [k] to go to the previous feed. No, I don’t browse by category, and no I do not spend time looking for new feeds anymore – if I end up at a page that I think I might like, I’ll write it down in the inbox of my hipster pda for later processing (that’s called organizing and managing your time); and if I’m sure that I like the page, and that it’ll take 10 minutes or less to investigate the site and add it to my feeds, then I’ll go right ahead and do so.

Since my feeds are quality feeds that I spent time organizing, just about everyday that I read them I’ll find something there that I MIGHT want to save forever. The articles that fit that description get starred – google reader (and gmail) has a star next to each item so you can click the “show all starred? button to see everything that you starred. I’ll only star an item if it looks like I might want to read it again, or save it forever. And after I’ve read all the feeds for the day, I’ll go to my starred section and re-read the things in there. While I’m re-reading, I’ll go from top to bottom clicking the ‘go to external link’ link which opens pages in a new tab in firefox, either saving pages with Offline Explorer (OE isn’t free, so for free you can use HTTtrack) and unstarring them, or not saving them and still unstarring. So after I’m finished with the starred section, there won’t be any more stars, but I’ll have some saved pages on my computer to read whenever I feel like it. At this point, I’m almost done with the internet … but there might be other things I wanted to do, like blogging something.

If I’ve written down “post about [topic] in [blog]? in the task list of my hipster pda then I’ll go ahead and type up a short outline, then an entry, to blogger via Microsoft word. I can do this because there’s a plugin called BloggerForWord which works nicely. I’d much rather type my entry in Microsoft Word than some webpage. I’d do the same thing with my livejournal too; instead of using the livejournal update page webpage I’ve installed the semagic livejournal client, which NOW also works with blogger, so I don’t have to log into no fucking webpage and mess up my flow. And for posting pictures up on my blog, I just use the flickr client. Flickr is great because you can tag your pictures, make albums, and it resizes each picture you put in to like five differnet sizes! I dig that.

Now, I am done with the internet, and will close firefox, and/or microsoft word, and/or semagic. Since I normally do these things in the mornings or at like midnight, at this point I’d probably be checking the weather with my weather widget (ships with konfabulator proram) that runs on Konfabulator. Oh look, the forecast says raining two days from now. Guess I don’t want to go on that camping trip after all. I could either delete the scheduled camping trip from my Rainlendar calendar, or I can go ahead and open up Mozilla Sunbird and delete from there. Doesn’t really matter which one I delete it from because they both sync together, making them exact updating replica’s of one another. Looks like I’ve got that taken care of so how about a nap?

Since I’m doing this polyphasic nappin experiment, I don’t really need that much sleep. With my polynapping, I generally sleep for 20 minutes every 4 hours throughout the day. The schedule is flexible though, so I may go up to 6 or 7 hours without a nap sometimes, or might even take a bonus nap if I feel like I could use one. This works and doesn’t make me die because in these naps, I get REM sleep and that’s pretty much the only sleep that matters. Those people who sleep at night time get just about the same amount (or more if they’re oversleeping) of REM sleep that one would get if they REM slept for a collective 2hrs and 30min of each day. Isn’t that vierd? So I’ll set my alarm widget in konfabulator to wake me up 20 minutes after I go to sleep, and I’ll stick my headphones on so I can hear the alarm – I don’t always need the headphones, or an alarm, but it’s just a precaution so I won’t fuck up. You see, I am new to this experiment, so polynapping isn’t a habit for me yet.

And that’s an example of how I might be productive and efficient on any given day. Since we’ve gotten this far, how about a money shot?