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Managing Your Work with Microsoft OneNote

Increase productivity and reduce stress through a proven work management system and the power of Microsoft OneNote

Lee Coursey

Managing Your Work with Microsoft OneNote

2011 by Lee Coursey

Table of Contents
Credits ............................................................................................................................................. 3 Introduction ................................................................................................................................... 4 Getting Things Done ............................................................................................................... 4 So tell me about this OneNote thing already ......................................................................... 6 Some cool features of Microsoft OneNote ............................................................................. 9 Set Up OneNote to Manage Your Work .................................................................................. 11 Create the notebook and its sections .................................................................................... 11 Create some tags to help manage your work ....................................................................... 14 Create a desktop shortcut for the TODAY section ............................................................. 15 Change some default destinations ........................................................................................ 17 Setup complete ........................................................................................................................ 20 Managing Your Workflow ......................................................................................................... 22 Collection ................................................................................................................................. 22 Processing ................................................................................................................................ 24 Doing ........................................................................................................................................ 30 Reviewing and Organizing ..................................................................................................... 33 Final Thoughts ........................................................................................................................ 38 Advanced Topics ......................................................................................................................... 39 Creating Subpages in OneNote ............................................................................................. 39 Prioritizing Your Work .......................................................................................................... 41 Screen Capture ........................................................................................................................ 43 Use Links. A Lot. ..................................................................................................................... 43 Avoid Common Pitfalls.......................................................................................................... 45 Generating a Daily or Weekly Status Report ....................................................................... 47 Someday/Maybe Items ........................................................................................................... 49 Congratulations ....................................................................................................................... 49 About the Author ........................................................................................................................ 50

Managing Your Work with Microsoft OneNote

2011 by Lee Coursey

Credits

Much in this booklet represents refinement of information from Rob of the 7Breaths blog,1 as well as from Lifehacker.com2. I have expanded on their ideas to present step-bystep instructions for implementing the Getting Things Done system with Microsoft OneNote. _____ Microsoft, OneNote, and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. GTD and Getting Things Done are registered trademarks of David Allen & Co.

Managing Your Work with Microsoft OneNote is not produced by, endorsed by, or
affiliated with Microsoft Corporation or David Allen & Co. _____ If you dont have Microsoft Office or Microsoft OneNote, you can buy it as a stand-alone product for $79.99 from Microsoft at http://goo.gl/raHZ8. You can also try it FREE for 60 days by visiting http://goo.gl/LMxZZ and clicking on > Try free for 60 days directly under the BUY NOW button.

1 2

See the 7Breaths blog at http://www.blog.7breaths.co.uk/ See http://lifehacker.com/#!5069230/getting-things-done-with-microsoft-onenote, and http://lifehacker.com/#!gtd

Managing Your Work with Microsoft OneNote

2011 by Lee Coursey

Introduction

ouve got a lot of things to do, and more tasks coming in every day. You probably also experience a lot of stress just making sure you dont forget anything, lose track of your progress, or miss an important assignment. Keeping up with the constant barrage of incoming e-mails, unexpected assignments, interruptions and changes in priority can prove extremely stressful and time-consuming. This booklet provides you with a system for relieving the pressure and worry of work-life management. This system uses Microsoft OneNote and the principles of Getting Things Done. If you follow the steps described herein, you will find yourself spending more time doing productive work and less time worrying, organizing, sorting, and processing incoming tasks.

Getting Things Done


Getting Things Done refers to the work-life management system and popular book of the same name by David Allen3. In the book, David presents a system for managing work and life that transforms personal overwhelm and overload into an integrated system of stress-free productivity. In the remainder of this booklet, youll find the abbreviation GTD used to refer to the Getting Things Done system. This booklet doesnt describe the GTD system in detail. You can read David Allens original book, visit his web site, or read a good description of the system on Wikipedia.4 You dont need to understand the full-blown system to use it effectively. Here, in a nutshell, are the key principles of GTD that you will explore in this booklet:

3 4

See Davids web site at http://www.davidco.com/ See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_things_done

Managing Your Work with Microsoft OneNote

2011 by Lee Coursey

Get It Out Of Your Head - The Getting Things Done method rests on the principle that a person needs to move tasks out of the mind by recording them externally. That way, you free your mind from the job of remembering everything you need to do, and you can concentrate on actually performing those tasks. It enables you to handle a high-volume workflow in a relaxed manner. Simplicity GTD uses a simple process to help you handle all of your various inputs and to categorize them into a small number of easy-to-locate buckets. Each category has a specific purpose, and each contributes to the goal of getting work out of your mind and into a trusted place where you can find it when you need it. Collecting, Processing, Doing, and Reviewing The GTD process categorizes activities as Collecting (gathering incoming information,) Processing (dealing with new inputs,) Doing (actually getting work accomplished), and Reviewing (adjusting priorities, planning next steps, etc.) Your goal when using the GTD method: maximize the time you spend Doing, to maximize your productivity.

The Basic GTD Process


The GTD process takes incoming information and places it into the appropriate category so you no longer have to worry about it. The process gets items out of your mental inbox and safely into a trusted repository. You will learn more about these steps in later chapters, when you learn how to use Microsoft OneNote as a tool to make them more effective. For now, you can find a brief summary of each step below.

Collecting
Collect all incoming ideas, assignments, requests, information, etc., in a small number of buckets. For example, your collection buckets might include: an e-mail inbox, a physical inbox, writing pads, and voicemail. When collecting, remember that youre not doing anything else with the information, such as trying to decide what to do with it youre simply collecting the information so you can process it later.
TIP: To make Collecting as effective as possible, you need to minimize the number of buckets you use for incoming stuff, and empty your buckets frequently. Well address this topic in more detail later.

Processing
In this phase of the GTD routine, you examine inputs youve collected and decide what to do with them. In the Processing step, you make quick decisions about the future disposi-

Managing Your Work with Microsoft OneNote

2011 by Lee Coursey

tion of items youve collected, and route them to the correct follow-up location by following this simple process: 1. Ask is this actionable? i.e., do you need to respond to this input and actually do something about it? a. NO i. If its junk, Delete it. ii. If its useful, put it in your Reference library (more about this later) b. YES i. Can you complete the required action(s) in under two minutes? 1. YES a. Do It. 2. NO a. Add / Update a Project in your Projects List

Doing
The most important of all the steps this is where you want to spend most of your time, in order to maximize your productivity. When in the Doing phase, you begin by identifying the next action you can work on, based upon: 1. 2. 3. 4. Priority Time Available Available Energy Context (at work, at home, traveling, etc.)

Review and Organize


In this step, you check off items youve completed, re-prioritize outstanding projects, and determine the next action for anything outstanding.

So tell me about this OneNote thing already


If youre already familiar with Microsoft OneNote, you can skip this section. Later chapters will address using specific OneNote features to implement the GTD process. If youre not familiar with Microsoft OneNote, heres what you need to know at this point: Microsoft OneNote 2010 comes bundled with Microsoft Office 20105. Chances are,

A version of OneNote also came bundled with Office 2007, but all the screenshots and directions in this book reference OneNote 2010.

Managing Your Work with Microsoft OneNote

2011 by Lee Coursey

if you have Microsoft Office 2010 for Windows, you have Microsoft OneNote 20106. This tool acts as digital notebook that provides a single place where you can gather all of sorts of notes and information. It also provides built-in search capabilities so you can find items in your OneNote notebooks quickly. Unlike paper, word processors, or e-mail systems, OneNote allows you to gather and organize text, pictures, digital handwriting, audio and video recordings, and more all in a single digital notebook on your computer.

Figure 1 An example of the OneNote window and Home tab on the ribbon.

OneNote Containers
OneNote organizes information using three types of containers. Its flexible enough that you can use each of these three containers to collect and organize information in virtually any way you want. Later in this booklet, youll learn how to leverage each container type specifically in the context of the Getting Things Done system. Notebooks The highest-level container of information, a Notebook represents a collection of related information. For example, you might create a Notebook to store all the information about a large project, or to plan a major trip.

If you dont have Microsoft Office or OneNote, you can buy it as a stand-alone product for $79.99 from Microsoft (http://goo.gl/raHZ8). You can also try it FREE for 60 days by visiting http://goo.gl/LMxZZ and clicking on > Try free for 60 days directly under the BUY NOW button.

Managing Your Work with Microsoft OneNote

2011 by Lee Coursey

Sections The second-level container of information, each Section appears as a tab located at the top of a notebook. You use Sections to group related subsets of information within a Notebook. Within the context of GTD, we will use Sections to collect inputs into various actionable categories. Pages the basic unit of storage in OneNote. A page contains text, images, lists, videos, etc. A Section may contain multiple pages. Each page has a tab that sticks out to the right of the main editing area, so you can easily switch between them.

TIP: A page in OneNote does not necessarily equate to a printed page. In fact, a OneNote page may span several printed pages. Think of a OneNote page as a single document about a particular subject within your OneNote notebook.

Managing Your Work with Microsoft OneNote

2011 by Lee Coursey

Some cool features of Microsoft OneNote


OneNote 2010 has some great features that you may not find in your e-mail, spreadsheet, or word processing program. These features can make collecting and processing information much easier. Youll learn how to use them in the context of GTD in a later chapter.

Print to OneNote 2010


When you install OneNote 2010, you also get a special printer driver installed on your system. The driver establishes a virtual printer that allows you to easily send information to OneNote from any program that allows printing.
Figure 2: This screen shot from Microsoft Word 2010 shows the virtual printer named Send to OneNote 2010 at the bottom of the printer list.

The Send to OneNote printer

Managing Your Work with Microsoft OneNote

2011 by Lee Coursey

Send to OneNote from Internet Explorer


As another result of installing OneNote 2010, youll find a new context menu option and toolbar button in Internet Explorer for sending web pages to OneNote.

Send to OneNote
Figure 3: The right-click context menu in Internet Explorer. Notice the item at the bottom of the menu, Send to OneNote. You can send selected text or entire web pages, including images, to OneNote. This feature gives you a great way to collect research from the Internet or your corporate Intranet.

Optical Character Recognition


When you paste, print, or otherwise send a graphic to your OneNote notebook, OneNote will scan the image and attempt to recognize and index all the text it contains. This very cool feature allows you to search for (and find) images in your notebook based on the text they contain. You can also copy the text from an image and paste it into another page, or into a word processing document, e-mail, etc.

Send to OneNote from Microsoft Outlook


You can send any e-mail message from Microsoft Outlook to OneNote, and it will become a fully editable page (including any graphics and hyperlinks) in your OneNote notebook.

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2011 by Lee Coursey

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Set Up OneNote to Manage Your Work

n this chapter, youll learn how to set up OneNote for the purpose of Getting Things Done. You will create at least one OneNote notebook containing specific sections for organizing information according to the GTD system. You will also change some settings in OneNote so you can more easily collect information from other applications on your computer.

Create the notebook and its sections


First step: Start OneNote and create a new notebook named GTD. To create a new notebook, click the File tab, then New, then choose My Computer as the location. You will also need to give your notebook a name. For example, you might name your notebook GTD. Finally, click the Create Notebook button to create the notebook. See the image below for an example.

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Figure 4: Creating a new notebook in OneNote. If you choose Web as the location, you can access your notebook from other computers, but you will need to have a Windows Live account.

By default, your new notebook will contain a single section, called New Section 1, and a single page in that section called Untitled page. Next, you need to create the following six sections in your notebook. Later portions of this document will explain the uses and purposes of these sections: TODAY Current Month Active Projects Archived Projects Support Files Reference

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Start by renaming the default section, New Section 1, to TODAY. To do this, right-click on the section tab and choose Rename from the context menu. See the image below for an example:
Figure 5: When you right-click on the New Section 1 tab, you see a context menu. The top item on the context menu allows you to rename the tab. To get set up for GTD, change the name of this tab to the word TODAY in all caps.

To create the other five sections, you can right-click on an existing section tab and choose New Section from the context menu, or you can click the new tab symbol that appears just to the right of the rightmost tab. After you have created all your sections, the tabs in your notebook should look something like those shown below:

Figure 6: The results of all your hard work creating Sections. If you dont like the tab colors, you can change them by right-clicking on the tab and choosing Section Color from the context menu.

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Create some tags to help manage your work


In this step, you will change and create some OneNote tags. You will use tags to quickly assign work items to the appropriate category for follow-up. OneNote allows you to search for items based on tags, which makes finding all your open items easy, even if they appear on different pages or in different sections of your notebook. Important: Much of what follows in this booklet relies on the use of these tags. Make sure you define them as described below. You can always change them later if you want to tweak your work management system. To begin, click the More button that appears at the bottom-right corner of the Tags box on the Home tab of the OneNote ribbon. Click on Customize Tags, which appears near the bottom of the More menu.
Figure 7: Click the More button in the Tags section of the Home tab in the Ribbon.

Then click the Customize Tags menu item that appears at the bottom of the More menu.

The Customize Tags window will appear, as shown below. You can use the buttons on this window to modify or add tags. For each of the first five tags, select the tag and then click Modify to change the format. Make your first five tags look like the list in Figure 8. Note that you will need to change the symbol, text, and in some cases the highlight color of the tags to match those shown below.
Figure 8: After you finish modifying the first five OneNote tags, you should have a set that looks like this. Note: The shortcut key assigned to each tag depends on the tags position in this list. The first tag in the list has Ctrl+1 as its shortcut, the second has Ctrl+2, and so on. You cannot directly assign or change the shortcut keys for tags.

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Tags in the toolbar


For another way to quickly access your tags, you can add a Tag drop-down to the Quick Access Toolbar that appears at the top of the main window. To do so, right-click on any tag name shown in the ribbon (on the Home tab,) and choose Add Gallery to Quick Access Toolbar from the context menu, as shown below.
Figure 9: Choose Add Gallery to Quick Access Toolbar to place a dropdown list of tags in your top toolbar.

Figure 10: After choosing Add Gallery to Quick Access Toolbar, you will see a new button in the Quick Access Toolbar. Clicking this button gives you direct access to your tags, regardless of which ribbon tab you have selected.

Create a desktop shortcut for the TODAY section


A desktop shortcut, with an assigned shortcut key, will allow you to easily open the TODAY section of your notebook. You want to make getting to your notebook as simple as possible, to encourage you to use it.

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To create a desktop shortcut, first right-click on the TODAY sections tab, and choose Copy Link to Section from the context menu. This will copy the path to the TODAY section into the Windows clipboard.
Figure 11: When you choose Copy Link to Section from the context menu, OneNote places a shortcut to that section into the Windows clipboard. You can then paste the text into a Windows desktop shortcut so you can easily open the TODAY section whenever you want to.

Next, right-click on any empty space in the Windows desktop. Choose New > Shortcut. In the window that appears, press Ctrl-V to paste the path to your TODAY section where it says Type the location of the item. Then click the Next button. In the next window that appears, type in TODAY as the name of the shortcut. Then click the Finish button. You should end up with a desktop shortcut similar to the one shown at the bottom-right of this image:
Figure 12: After you create the desktop shortcut to your TODAY section, you can double-click it or use its shortcut key (explained below) to launch this section without having to first open OneNote.

Next, create a shortcut key for the desktop shortcut as follows: Right-click on the desktop shortcut and choose Properties from the context menu.

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In the properties dialog box, make sure the Web Document tab is selected. Place your cursor in the text box labeled Shortcut key. Press Ctrl + Alt + 0 (zero). The settings should now look something like the image below. Click OK to save the properties.

Figure 13: Notice that the Shortcut key assigned to this desktop shortcut now says Ctrl + Alt + 0. After you click OK to save these properties, you can press Ctrl + Alt + 0 on your keyboard to open the TODAY section of your notebook at any time, even if you dont have OneNote running.

Change some default destinations


Next step: Change some of the default OneNote options to make collecting and organizing information a bit more automatic and hassle-free. First, youll want to change the default location for unfiled notes to the TODAY section. This will cause any new notes to end up in the TODAY section of your GTD notebook by default.

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To do this, click on the File tab in the ribbon, then Options (near the bottom between Help and Exit.) The OneNote Options window appears. Select Save & Backup from the left-hand pane, then click on Unfiled Notes Section under Save. Finally, click the Modify button. See the screen shot below for an illustration.

Figure 14: When you click Save & Backup in the left pane, the right pane changes. Then you can click on Unfiled Notes Section and click the Modify button to change the default location for unfiled notes. When youve made the change, your settings should appear similar to the image above, with Unfiled Notes going to the TODAY section of your GTD notebook.

After you click Modify, the Select File dialog appears. In this window, locate the folder for your GTD notebook and click on it. Next, click the file TODAY.one that appears in the right-hand pane (assuming you followed the instructions above and actually named a section TODAY.) After selecting the file, click the Select button.

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The screen shot below shows what the dialog box should look like.

Figure 15: Select the TODAY.one file from the folder representing your GTD notebook. This will become the default destination for any unfiled notes.

After you click Select, youll return to the OneNote Options window. Do not close this window yet, because you have another change to make. Now youre going to change the default location for sending web content, e-mail, and printed notes to OneNote. Again, you will point these to the TODAY section of your GTD notebook. To do this, click on Send to OneNote in the left pane of the Options dialog. Under Other Content change the option to Set default location In the popup window that appears, choose the TODAY section of your GTD notebook. When youve finished, your options should look like the ones shown in the screen shot below. Click OK to close the window and save your new options.

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Figure 16: The settings shown here for E-mail messages, Web content and Print to OneNote will automatically create new pages in the TODAY section of your GTD notebook when you use the Send to OneNote printer, or the Send to OneNote option in Internet Explorer and Outlook.

TIP: You should always leave the Screen clippings option set to Always ask where to send. That way, you can use OneNotes screen clipping function both to capture images into OneNote and to copy images to the clipboard for use in other programs.

Setup complete
Thats it for the setup process. Now youre ready to start getting things done. The following chapters will explain how to integrate OneNote into your workflow to help you maximize your productivity. Before moving on, review your setup and make sure youve accomplished the following: New Notebook You have a new notebook, preferably named GTD. New Sections Your new notebook has six sections named TODAY, Current Month, Active Projects, Archived Projects, Support Files, and Reference.

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Desktop Shortcut Youve created a desktop shortcut in Windows that launches the TODAY section of your GTD notebook, and you have assigned it a shortcut key. Tags Defined You have modified the default tags so that you have a tag set like the one shown in Figure 8 on page 14. Default Unfiled Notes Section In the File > Options > Save & Backup settings, you have set the default location for Unfiled Notes to the TODAY section of your GTD notebook. Default Location for Web Content and Printed Notes In the File > Options > Send to OneNote settings, you have set the default location for E-mail messages, Web Content and Print to OneNote to the TODAY section of your GTD notebook.

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Managing Your Workflow

t last, you have arrived at the meat of the matter. In this chapter, you will learn how to manage your day-to-day workflow using the Getting Things Done method and the Microsoft OneNote tool. With practice, you will become a Ninja Warrior of productivity. As a reminder, the primary steps in the GTD workflow appear below: Collection Processing Doing Review and Organizing

Youll learn about each of these in turn in the sections below.

Collection
As one of the primary goals with Getting Things Done, you want to get things out of your head and into a trusted repository. This frees up your mind for productive work and reduces stress. During the Collection phase, you only want to capture incoming thoughts, requests, messages, tasks, etc. You do not need to decide what to do with all these items during the Collection phase you simply need to collect them in a place that you trust, so you can process them later.

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How to begin your day


When you first get to work, you should launch your GTD notebook and turn to the TODAY section. Do this before you do anything else, including opening up your e-mail client. If youve created the desktop shortcut as described in earlier chapters, you can open the TODAY section of your notebook by pressing Ctrl+Alt+0 on your keyboard. Create a new page in the TODAY section with todays date as the title. After entering the title, click on the empty page and begin entering everything thats currently on your mind things you need to do, things you need to follow-up on, nagging questions, etc.

Figure 17: A new page in the TODAY section, with the current date as the page title. Capture all the items currently on your mind you will decide what to do about them later. Press Enter after each item.

TIP: You can also use Alt + Shift + T to enter the current time into your text, or use Alt + Shift + D to enter the current date.

Important: Apply the appropriate @Work / @Home tag to all the new items you enter into your TODAY list. You can do this by pressing Ctrl+1 or Ctrl+2 while you have the cursor positioned anywhere in the item. You can also click on the appropriate tag in the ribbon.

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When youve successfully tagged everything, your list will look something like the image below. Note the green and yellow check boxes next to each item:

Figure 18: Items in the TODAY section, after tagging them with the appropriate Work/Home tag. Items with a small green box next to them carry the @Home tag. The ones with yellow boxes next to them carry the @Work tag.

When someone calls you, sends you a request via online chat, or drops by your desk to ask you to do something, add those items to the TODAY section. Dont worry about what to do with them yet. Make sure you tag each item with the appropriate Work/Home tag by pressing Ctrl+1 or Ctrl+2.
TIP: Going through your e-mail inbox and deciding what to do with each message does not represent Collecting. It represents Processing, the next step in the workflow. Try to avoid looking at your incoming e-mail more frequently than every hour, and only do it during the Processing step of your workflow.

Processing
This represents the second major step in your workflow. You should endeavor to process all your collected stuff regularly, at least once a day. Depending on how frequently you switch tasks, you may want to Process new inputs every hour or so. Just remember that you want to maximize the time you spend doing productive work and minimize the time you spend preparing to work, so dont overdo the Processing step. Processing involves going through each item youve collected in the Collection phase and deciding what to do with it. As part of this step, make sure you go through all of your

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collection buckets, including the TODAY section of your OneNote notebook, your e-mail inbox, your voice mailbox, your paper notepad, etc.
TIP: Take care that you dont spend too much time in this step, and that you dont perform it too frequently. Try to discipline yourself to Processing only a few times a day, or at major breaks between tasks. Remember that your goal in using the GTD system is to maximize the time you spend DOING things.

First, look at the items in your OneNote TODAY section, then go through your e-mail inbox. Use the following workflow to Process all the items in your collection buckets:

Delete the obvious junk first


Instead of looking for the valuable information first, go through your collection buckets and delete the obvious spam, junk, mistakes, etc. This will leave only useful items for further processing.
TIP: When youre away from your desk, you can periodically spend your free time deleting junk from your e-mail inbox using your mobile device. This will speed up the Processing step when you return to your desk.

Take immediate action on short-duration action items


Next, open each item in your collection buckets (typically, your e-mail messages and items youve captured in the TODAY section of your Notebook.) If the incoming item requires only a single action by you, and you can complete the action in under two minutes, then take action immediately. After completing the action: If the task came in via e-mail, remove the item from your inbox by deleting it or moving it into a Completed Items folder. If the item came from your OneNote collection bucket, check the box next to it (created when you tagged the item) to indicate completion. If the item requires an action by someone else, forward it to the appropriate person. If you need to follow-up on the item and ensure that it gets done, then add an item to the current days page in the TODAY section of your OneNote notebook, and tag it with the Waiting For tag (Ctrl+3). An example appears below:

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Figure 19: Notice the red check mark next to the fourth item in this list. When you complete an item, make sure you click the box next to it and check it off as completed, so you can ignore it during future Processing. Also note the item at the bottom of this list. It has WAITING as an eye-catcher in upper case letters, and it also carries the Waiting For tag (the small box to the left of the item with the yellow person icon.)

File Away Reference Information


Some incoming items contain useful reference information that doesnt require an immediate action from you. For example, someone might send you an e-mail describing changes to a corporate policy or procedure. Put items such as these into the Reference section of your Notebook, giving each its own page or subpage (see Advanced Topics on page 39 for information about subpages.) If the reference information resides in the body or attachments of an e-mail message, you need to get the message into your OneNote notebook. To do this easily, click the Send to OneNote button if you use Microsoft Outlook7. Otherwise, use the Print to OneNote printer if you use a different e-mail client. If you configured OneNotes Send To options as described on page 17, then OneNote will automatically create a new page in the TODAY section of your GTD notebook and copy the e-mail message into it, including any attachments. You can then drag the page into the Reference section of your notebook and file it away.

In Outlook 2010, the Send to OneNote button appears in the Move group on the Home tab of the ribbon.

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The newly-inserted page tab

Figure 20: An e-mail message as it appears after using the Send to OneNote feature of Microsoft Outlook. Note the page tabs on the right side of the screen. OneNote now contains a new page with the same title as the original e-mail message. You can drag the pages tab up to the Reference section at the top of the notebook to file it away for future reference.

TIP: After sending an e-mail message to OneNote, you can edit it like any other page. For example, you can remove superfluous information, add your own annotations and notes, change the page title, remove unwanted images, etc.

If the reference information resides in a document youve stored on your computer or network folder, then create a new page or subpage in the Reference section of your notebook, and create a link to the document by doing the following: 1. Create a new page in the Reference section of your OneNote notebook. 2. Right-click on a blank space in the body of the new page. Choose Link from the context menu:

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3. The Link pop-up window appears. Place your cursor in the Address field of the pop-up window, then click the folder icon to browse for the file containing your reference information. After you select the file, OneNote will automatically fill in the Text to display box with the title of the document. You can change this before creating the link. 4. Click the OK button on the Link window to create the link.

Figure 21: Creating a link to an external document. First, create a new page in your Reference section, then right-click in the page body and choose Link Use the folder button to browse for the file, then click OK to create the link.

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When you complete this process, your notebook will contain a hyperlink that, when clicked, opens the reference document. Remember that you can add more text to this page to help you remember the context and purpose of the link you created. An example of the end result appears below:

Figure 22: The end result of linking to an external document from the Reference section of your GTD notebook. Notice the extra text added to provide context and additional details about the link. Clicking the link opens the target document. Hovering your mouse pointer over the link will show the full path to the target document in a ToolTip popup.

Dealing with everything else: Projects


Any item requiring an action from you that will take more than two minutes of effort becomes a Project under this methodology. After you have deleted junk, acted on shortduration items, and filed away reference material, its time to Process the remaining items and convert them into projects. For new projects, create a new project page in the Active Projects section, and add the action item to this page (and remember to tag it!) For existing projects, either add the item to the top of the existing project page, or create a new subpage for the item. See Creating Subpages in OneNote on page 39 for more information. As a guideline, you should simply add text to the top of an existing page when the item consists of one or two sentences (e.g., Find the sales presentation from last year and post it in the TeamSpace.) You should consider using a new subpage when the item consists of a long e-mail message, diagram, chart, etc.
TIP: Remember that you can forward e-mail directly to OneNote from Outlook, and then make the resulting page a subpage of an existing project (or a new project page.) See the discussion on page 26 for details.

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Summary
To summarize the Processing section above, you should now know how to: Process your incoming stuff periodically throughout the day (no more than necessary.) Delete junk from your collection buckets (e-mail inbox, TODAY page, physical inbox, etc.) Take immediate action on items requiring less than two minutes of your time. File reference material away in a trusted location where you can find it again (pages or subpages in the Reference section of your OneNote notebook.) Add or update Project pages with incoming items requiring more than two minutes for a complete response.

Doing
Now youve reached the most important part of your workflow actually doing productive work. The system described in this document will help you maximize the time you spend on this activity, which will help maximize your productivity. This phase of your workflow consists of four main activities: 1. 2. 3. 4. Figuring out what to do next. Doing productive work. Recording what you have completed. Collecting any Next Actions for your project.

Figuring out what to do next


If you have collected and processed (and most importantly, tagged) incoming items according to the process described above, you can use OneNotes built-in features to help you identify the next thing to do. A quick way to find all open items requiring your attention involves the Find Tags feature in Microsoft OneNote. First, click the Find Tags button in the Home section of the ribbon. After you click the button, a Tag Summary list will appear on the right side of the OneNote screen. Group the tags by Date, and click the checkbox labeled Show only unchecked items. Checking this box will cause

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OneNote to display only items tagged with an unchecked checkbox.


TIP: Make sure the Search: drop-down at the bottom of the Tag Summary has This notebook selected, to ensure that you see every unchecked item across all your notebooks and pages.

After youve clicked the Find Tags button, grouped the tags by date, and selected only unchecked items, you will see a list of items requiring your attention. See the illustration below:

Pages

Items requiring attention

Figure 23: Illustration showing a list of open items on the right side of the OneNote screen. You can click on each item in this list to go directly to its page in OneNote.

Doing productive work


After selecting an item from the list of open tasks, then perform the next step namely, work on that item. While you work, remember to keep your attention fixed on the Doing phase. Resist the urge to check your e-mail or to answer the phone (let it go to voice mail.) While youre Doing things, you should not:

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Collect things Process things (i.e., do not check your e-mail inbox or your voicemail, etc.)

How long should you work? The answer to this question will vary from person to person, but some ideas for when to stop Doing and return to one of the other workflow phases appear below. Stop Doing work: When you complete the item at hand. When you have completed one or two hours of productive work. When its time to get lunch. When its time for your next scheduled meeting. When you reach the end of your work day.

When someone interrupts you during productive work


Unless you have neared one of the natural breaks listed above, try not to let interruptions last very long. When someone drops by your workplace in person or sends you an urgent online chat message, simply collect the incoming stuff and end the conversation as quickly as possible. Above all, try to avoid Processing the incoming information or switching from Doing the task at hand to Doing something else. Here are some ways to handle incoming information delivered as an interruption during your Doing phase: Politely ask the person to send you an e-mail message. This is the number one best way to stop the interruption in its tracks while ensuring that your automatic collection system (your e-mail inbox) will collect the information without any effort on your part. When you ask the visitor to send you an e-mail message, ask him to include the actions he wants you to take as well as the deadline for acting, along with any pertinent background information. Tell him you will process his request at your next opportunity. Add the item to the TODAY section of your GTD notebook. Remember, you only want to Collect the information and return to Doing productive work. Dont Process it. Simply add the task, question, etc., to the current days page in the TODAY section of your notebook, tag it with the appropriate @Work or @Home tag, then return to Doing the task at hand.

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TIP: If an interruption comes in via online chat, and the person doesnt want to send you an e-mail instead (or asking her to send you one would seem silly due the simplicity of the request,) you can copy-and-paste the entire chat text into the TODAY section of your notebook, tag it, and get back to work. Remember: To stay productive, collect incoming items from interruptions, but dont process them until later.

When you complete an item


Congratulations! Youve actually completed something! When you reach this point, do the following: 1. Click the checkbox next to the item in OneNote to indicate that you have completed it. 2. If the completed item belongs to a Project, capture (Collect and Process) the Next Action for the project by adding it to the top of the appropriate Project page. If you dont clearly understand what you should do next, then enter Determine next action for the XYZ Project into the top of the Project page. Make sure you tag this item as @Work (Ctrl+1) or @Home (Ctrl+2), depending on its context.

Next Action

Figure 24: Illustration showing a recently completed item (with a red check next to it) and the Next Action required for this project. Adding your next action to the top of the page instead of the bottom keeps it visible and easy to locate.

Reviewing and Organizing


This stage represents the fourth and final major activity within your workflow. In the Reviewing step, you will examine your collection and processing system to make sure it contains only current, useful information. You will also ensure that every project has a

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Next Action associated with it, and that every open item has the appropriate tag in OneNote.

Daily Review
At the end of each day, before you shut down everything and head home (or when youre already at home and ready to stop working,) carry out the following steps to ensure youre prepared for the next day: 1. Check off completed items Using the technique described on page 30, display all your unchecked items. If you have completed any item, check it off. (You can check items directly in the Tags Summary view without visiting the page that contains the item.) 2. Empty your e-mail inbox You should achieve Inbox Zero at the end of every day. To do so, go through your e-mail inbox and Process every message. As a reminder, you should take one of the following actions for every item collected in your inbox: a. Take immediate action if the message requires an action by you that will require less than two minutes to complete. Afterward, respond to the requester as necessary and then delete the message from your inbox. b. File away reference material move the e-mail to a trusted folder, or forward / print / copy the e-mail to OneNote and place it in the appropriate page in the Reference section. After putting the item in OneNote, delete the message from your inbox. c. Add or update Projects in your notebook if an incoming message requires an action from you that will take more than two minutes to complete, forward / print / copy it to OneNote and then place the item on the appropriate Project page or subpage. Tag the item with the appropriate context, and then delete the message from your inbox. (Are you beginning to sense a pattern here?) d. Forward actions for others if the message requires an action from someone else, forward it to her. Create a WAITING item in the appropriate Project page of your OneNote notebook, and tag it with the Waiting For tag (Ctrl+3). Delete the original item from your e-mail inbox. 3. Empty your other collection buckets Go through your voicemail system(s), physical inbox, paper notes, yellow stickies, and any other collection mechanism

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that you use (including your head.) Process each item as described above, then remove it from the collection system (delete the voicemail, trash the yellow sticky note, etc.) 4. Empty the current days page in the TODAY section Go through any unchecked items found on the current days page in the TODAY section. Process each item as described above. Also look for any additional unfiled pages (items you printed or forwarded to OneNote from other programs, for example, and Process them also.) 5. Make sure every project has a Next Action Briefly examine every page in the Active Projects section of your OneNote notebook. Every active project should have at least one tagged, unchecked, next action at the top of its page. If it does not, and you know the next action off the top of your head, type the action into the top of the projects page and tag it with the appropriate context. If you dont know the next action, then add Determine next action for the XYZ project to the top of the page, and tag it with the appropriate context. 6. Examine and follow-up on all the Waiting For items Click on the Find Tags button in the ribbon, and Group the tags by Tag Name. Make sure you have specified Show only unchecked items. This will put all the open Waiting For items together where you can find them easily.

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Group by Tag name

Open Waiting For items Figure 25: Illustration showing the Find Tags summary, grouped by tag name, rather than by Date (as in Figure 23.) Note that any open Waiting For items appear at the bottom of this list.

Look at each Waiting For item to see if you expected a response by now. If so, add an item to the appropriate project page (or whatever page contains the Waiting For item) reminding you to follow-up on the Waiting For item. Tag the new item with the appropriate @Work/@Home context. These follow-up items will appear when you enter the Doing phase on the next work day. (See Figuring out what to do next on page 30 for details.) At the end of your work day, you should leave with every collection bucket emptied, all new items Processed, all completed items checked off, and every project with its Next Action identified. You should also have a new follow up with item for every late item tagged as Waiting For.

Weekly Review and Organization


At the end of each week, schedule some time for a more thorough review of your OneNote notebook. Carry out each item below to prepare you for another week of productivity:

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1. Move completed project pages to Archived Projects Examine every project in the Active Projects section. If you have completed the project and have no additional actions for it, then move that page (and its subpages) to the Archived Projects section. You can do this by dragging the page up to the Archived Projects tab, or by right-clicking on the page and choosing Move or Copy from the context menu:

Figure 26: Illustration showing the Move or Copy menu item selected from the context menu after rightclicking on the Coding Standards Project page.) In the popup window that appears, you can choose the Archived Projects section as the destination.

TIP: When you complete a project, you might want to add some text to the top of the page describing when and why you closed the project. For example, Received final confirmation of project completion from Ben Davis, the project manager. You can use Alt + Shift + D to automatically insert todays date into the text.

2. Move the daily pages from TODAY to Current Month Using the same method described above, move any daily dated pages from the TODAY section to the Current Month section. 3. Perform all the Daily Review tasks also Carry out all the steps described under Daily Review beginning on page 34.

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Final Thoughts
The sections in this chapter have described the four major stages of managing your workflow: Collecting, Processing, Doing, and Reviewing. To put it all together, a typical days routine might look like this: 1. Open the TODAY section of your OneNote notebook. (Ctrl + Alt + 0 if you created the desktop shortcut and assigned it a shortcut key as described in the Setup chapter.) 2. Create a new page, titled with todays date, in the TODAY section. 3. Immediately collect anything on your mind (stuff you thought about on the drive in, things your boss mentioned as you walked to your desk from the elevator, etc.) Put each item in todays page in the TODAY section, and tag it appropriately. 4. Open your e-mail and calendar client. Examine your schedule to get an idea of your commitments for the day. 5. Process everything in your e-mail and voicemail inboxes. 6. DO some productive work for an hour or two. (Do not look at your e-mail inbox during this period. If possible, eliminate interruptions during this phase by ignoring your phone setting your instant messaging status to Away.) 7. Process your collection buckets again, including e-mail and voicemail. 8. Repeat steps 6-7 throughout the day. 9. Perform the Daily Review and Organize tasks. Perform the Weekly tasks if you have reached the end of the week.

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Advanced Topics

his chapter includes some advanced tips and techniques for dealing with special circumstances that may arise during your work day. Each technique expands on ideas presented in earlier chapters. If you havent read the other sections of this booklet, you may want to read them before investigating this chapter. You can increase your productivity and reduce your stress just by following the steps described in prior chapters. This chapter will give you some tips and tricks for becoming a Jedi Master of productivity.

Creating Subpages in OneNote


Subpages in OneNote allow you to group related pages together visually, and to move them from one section to another as a set. A subpage appears as an indented page tab under the parent page:

A subpage

Figure 27: The page highlighted in yellow, BOE Client Tools SP3 FP 3.3, is a subpage of the BusinessObjects Reporting Tools project page, in the Active Projects section of a GTD notebook. Notice how the title of the subpage appears indented from the left margin.

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You can create subpages in several different ways: 1. Choose New Subpage from the drop-down menu attached to the New Page button (see below). 2. Right-click on an existing page and choose Make Subpage. This action will make an existing page subordinate to the page above it.

Figure 28: Two different methods of creating a subpage. You can choose New Subpage from the New Page menu, or right-click on an existing page and choose Make Subpage.

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You can nest subpages several levels deep (by creating subpages of subpages) For example, the highlighted page in the screenshot below resides as a subpage of a subpage:

Figure 29: Illustration showing the nesting of a subpage within a subpage.

Prioritizing Your Work


Several methods exist to help you determine the order in which to work on open items.

First In, First Out (FIFO)


Using the simplest method, FIFO (for First In, First Out), you DO things in the order that they arrived. You can accomplish this in OneNote by clicking the Find Tags button, showing only unchecked items, and then Grouping by Date. See Figuring out what to do next on page 30 for screen shots of this process.

Relative Importance
If your work requires you to DO things based on their urgency and relative significance, you can use OneNote to help you prioritize your items based on importance. A very simple way to prioritize items involves simply making HIGH, MED, or LOW the beginning of each items description. This method allows you to quickly see items that have a higher relative priority than others. Another, more elegant method involves the use of OneNote tags. As you may recall from the Setup chapter, you can modify the default tags in OneNote to fit your specific needs (see page 14.) Among the options available, OneNote provides numbered check boxes (numbered from 1 to 3) to help you use tags to indicate the importance of an item.

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For example, you might want to modify tags 4-6 as shown in the screen shot below. Then, you can use Ctrl+4, Ctrl+5, and Ctrl+6 to tag items as requiring your attention and prioritize them at the same time.

Figure 30: Illustration showing the use of numbered checkboxes to use as a work prioritization method. Notice tags 4, 5, and 6 in this list.

If you tag items with these numbered boxes, then you can visually identify the highpriority open items at a glance via the Find Tags function. For example, see the screen shot below:

Figure 31: As you can see from the illustration above, the open items in this notebook include two high-priority items (those with the gold 1 boxes beside them,) and one medium-priority item.

You can also group tags by tag name to see all the High priority items grouped together, then the medium priority items, etc. Grouping by date, as shown in the screen shot above,

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allows you to mix both the FIFO and the Relative Importance methods of sequencing your work thus adding to your Jedi-like mastery of effective working.

Screen Capture
OneNote comes with a good, built-in screen capture facility. After installing and running OneNote, simply press +s (Hold down the Windows key and press the s key). You can then click and drag to select a portion of the visible screen for capture. I used the OneNote screen capture tool to capture every image seen in this document.

Use Links. A Lot.


OneNote allows you to create hyperlinks to web sites, external documents, and other items, sections, or pages in your Notebooks. Use this feature liberally to reduce the time you spend searching for stuff. For example, suppose someone sends you an email describing a new human resources procedure. During the Processing phase of your workflow, you file it away in the Reference section of your OneNote notebook (by using Send to OneNote in Outlook or the Send to OneNote printer in other e-mail clients.) Later, someone drops by asking you to create a brief presentation explaining how you will implement the new procedure in your department. You Collect this request in your TODAY page, and then later, during Processing, you realize it will take more than two minutes to complete, so you create a new page for it in your Active Projects section. At this point, you should create a link from your new project page (where you have an open, unchecked item saying Create a presentation explaining the new HR policy) to the page where you filed the copy of the new HR policy. To do this, type some text on your page, such as Link to the new HR policy. (Clever, no?) Then, highlight the text and type Ctrl+K (or right click the text and choose Link from the context menu.) The Link dialog will appear. Simply navigate in the bottom section of this window until you find the page you created for the new HR policy. Click once to highlight this entry in the list, then click the OK button. Now you have a link to the policy from your project page, so you can easily refer to the policy while working on the presentation.

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Figure 32: Creating a link to the New HR Policy page from the related Active Projects page. Note the highlighted item at the bottom of the window.

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You can also use hyperlinks to connect related projects, or to link to reference material on the Internet, your local hard drive, etc.

Figure 33: An example of a project page with multiple embedded hyperlinks. Each link navigates to a copy of an e-mail message stored elsewhere in the same OneNote notebook.

Avoid Common Pitfalls


This system may seem a bit complex at first, but you will find with repeated practice that it actually removes complication and stress from the process of managing your work. To make the most of it, you need to strive to avoid these common problems:

Dont Process too frequently


Remember that reading your e-mail, listening to voice mail, and examining the items in your other buckets make up the Processing step of your workflow. You dont want to spend more time than necessary in this step (because you want to maximize the time you spend Doing productive work.) Learn to resist checking your e-mail inbox every ten minutes, and for heavens sake, turn off any system tray or popup e-mail notification tools you have! Unless you have a completely event-driven job in which you must handle everything in the reverse order from which it arrived (you poor soul), you do not need to check your inbox more than once an hour, and you dont need instant notification when new e-mail messages arrive. In computer science, we have a term called thrashing which means a situation where large amounts of resources are used to do a minimal amount of work, or when a computer spends more time switching between tasks than it spends working on those tasks.

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If you examine your inbox too frequently or otherwise slip into Processing when you should be Doing, you too may experience thrashing. Try to avoid thrashing if you can.

Dont let people interrupt you


You may find this difficult depending on your workplace culture and the personalities of your boss and coworkers, but the true Jedi master of productivity knows how to cheerfully and politely tell people to go away in such a way that theyre actually happy to do it. Explain to the interrupter that you really need to finish the item youre working on, but that you will be happy to entertain his request or question as soon as possible if he would just send you an e-mail message explaining what he needs. The key to dismissing a person in this manner while retaining his good will depends on your making him feel like you need to apologize for imposing a burden on him, rather than the other way around. In addition, you will find people more willing to leave you alone and send you an e-mail if you develop a reputation for following through on your commitments and actually helping people when you say you will. The system described in this booklet will make that easier for you.

Dont forget to tag items as you add them


Youre probably tired of reading it by now, but you will save yourself a lot of grief and boost your productivity if you tag new items with one of the empty checkbox-style tags when you add the item to your notebook.

Collect everything thats on your mind


The key to achieving peace of mind with this method: Collect everything of concern to you, to get it outside of your mind and capture it in a trusted place. This means creating items in the current days page in the TODAY section as soon as you get to work, and then as soon as you think of something else you need to do. Dont forget to Collect items such as: Phone calls you need to make or return Reminders you need to give to other people Social events and meetings you need to schedule Thank you messages and apologies you need to send or personally deliver Items you need to pick up at the store on the way home from work Questions youve been meaning to ask someone at work

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Generating a Daily or Weekly Status Report


If you work in an environment that requires you to write a periodic status report describing your accomplishments, open items, etc., you can use some features of OneNote to make the process much easier and less time-consuming. First you will need to follow the other parts of this process fairly diligently. Doing so will create the records in OneNote you need to create your status report. Make sure that every task you accomplish appears as an item in OneNote, and that you tag the items appropriately. Check off these items as you complete them.

Producing a Weekly List of Open and Closed Items


You can quickly and easily produce a list of all items updated in the past week, including completed items you checked off during the week. To do this, first click the Find Tags button in the Home section of the ribbon. The Tags Summary pane will appear on the right side of the window. Next, in the Tags Summary pane, choose Date from the Group tags by box in the top part of the pane, and choose This weeks notes in the Search box near the bottom of the pane:

Figure 34: An illustration showing how to select Date in the Group tags by box, and This weeks notes from the Search box in the Tags Summary pane.

Next, make sure you uncheck the box in the Tags Summary pane labeled Show only unchecked items. You should now see a list of all open and closed items updated in the past week.

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Finally, click the button at the bottom of the Tags Summary pane labeled Create Summary Page. A new page will appear in your notebook. The new page contains all of the items listed in the Tags Summary pane. See the image below for an example:

Figure 35: Clicking the Create Summary Page button (shown above) in the Tags Summary pane generates a new page containing all the items listed on the Tags Summary pane. See the example below.

Figure 36: A new page showing all the items (both open and closed) updated in the past week. You can use this list, in combination with your calendar and sent mail, to help you quickly write a weekly status report. You may also want to use this list for your weekly review process.

After writing your status report, you can delete the summary page or keep it for your records.

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Someday/Maybe Items
Some users of the Getting Things Done method advocate keeping a separate list for items you would like to do at some indefinite point in the future but dont yet have scheduled. If youd like to add these types of items to your workflow, then create a new section called Someday-Maybe. Create a page in this section for each major project you would like to tackle at some point in the future. You may also want to use a unique tag for these items, so you can clearly identify them in the Tags Summary pane.

Figure 37: This illustration shows a new Section called Someday-Maybe containing a page titled Vacation Ideas. Note the use of a distinct tag for these items. Using a separate tag for Someday-Maybe items will help you identify them as such when you use the Find Tags button and the Tags Summary pane.

Congratulations
Youve reached the end of the booklet! Now go out there, fire up OneNote, and become more productive!

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About the Author

You can find the author on Facebook, Twitter, Quora, and various other social networking sites. For links to his profiles on these sites, and for contact information, go to: http://follr.me/leecoursey

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