Move Away from Notepads, Post-its and Chicken Scratch by Adopting Microsoft OneNote

Where did that little piece of paper go? You know the one. It lists three things for the big meeting. And where are the brochure changes? You can see the electric blue sticky note in your mind, but you just can’t find it. Is there a black hole for socks and notes? Where’s the scribble outlining the new process, the inspiring quote, the to-do list for tomorrow? Panic. How are you going to do the to-dos IF YOU CAN’T FIND THEM?

When it comes to random writings, the game changer is called OneNote from Microsoft. Available for Android, Windows and Apple iOS devices, the cloud-based app offers up digital “notebooks” or tabs defined by how you think and what’s important to you. Examples of tabs might be weekly to-dos, meeting notes, the big project, personal stuff, goals, book project, journal, trips, favorite quotes, kids, or shopping list.

Write your note down once (the Microsoft stylus could become your new favorite “pen”) and OneNote updates all your devices instantly. Your notes are searchable, too, which makes the little-pieces-of-paper problem disappear. And, unlike paper, sharing your ideas online is easy. Just email pages to clients and colleagues. Microsoft’s OneNote is wholly collaborative. For those writing procedures, company policy, books or any long document, OneNote “automatically highlights changes and lists authors of new material” (eHow).

Now, while you’re tossing out your secret stash of scratch paper (you’re so green, saving all those photocopies gone bad!), prepare for one more shocking bit of news: you may already have OneNote and not even know it …

A full 35 percent of 3Points’ clients use Microsoft Office 365, yet only 2 to 5 percent embrace OneNote, which comes standard with the software. Why? Like anyone else, small business owners are busy. However, the productivity gain that comes from organizing your notes in one central spot might surprise you.

So, do you or don’t you have OneNote? If you have Microsoft Office 365 with an E3 plan from 3Points, you have the OneNote desktop version. If you are on an E1 plan, you can use OneNote’s web application. (Anybody can get the mobile app for free on the app store. Nice!).

Here are two quick and easy ways to see if you have OneNote. For Windows 7 users, click the start button and type “OneNote.” Look for the purple icon. For Windows 8 users, right-click the Windows icon on the bottom left of your screen and select search “OneNote” at the bar on the right. It should be listed.

OneNote integrates beautifully with other Microsoft Office products, too (eHow). But, it’s not just about shedding pieces of paper. It’s about using technology to do things you couldn’t do before. In regards to OneNote, this means storing different types of information like text, pictures, audio, and video—all in one notebook. If you’re a cross-fit fan, the analogy is perfect to help understand OneNote; just as you would work different muscles, you can use different tools to create PDF, PowerPoint and Word files with notebook contents (TechSoup).

Taking OneNote a step further, let’s say a business owner is traveling internationally without Wi-Fi access. Not a problem. Changes to OneNote are saved and everything synchronizes upon landing.

How are 3Points Clients Using OneNote?

1. A manufacturer of doors and windows traded Evernote for OneNote and loves it! It came free with their Microsoft Office 365 subscription along with OneDrive for Business, a cloud-based storage app with 1TB of space. On the job site, field personnel use iPads to take before and after pictures and notes about that job. All information is stored in a OneNote notebook. Back at the office, the person opens up the desktop computer and all the documentation is there. No need to bring a digital camera or handwrite notes on a notepad.

2. A plumbing company that uses Microsoft Office 365 equips their plumbers with OneNote for taking before and after shots of projects with easy access to them on any computer. They simply log in to the 365 portal and click on files in OneDrive and click on the OneNote database file in the web browser.

3. At 3Points, we take pictures of some pretty ugly networks. OneNote allows us to keep a scrapbook of sorts with pictures, audio and video of projects that tell a story with a happy ending: pictures showing nice, neat cabling! We type notes on our phone during walk-throughs and create lists of PowerShell commands and share this information with others on the team. When we open up our iPads and desktops, everything is there because OneNote synchronizes across all devices: mobile phone, iPad, laptop and desktop.

Technology should simplify our lives. If you put your paper notebooks side by side with OneNote, you’ll see a difference in versatility, share-ability, search-ability, and … possibility.


Andrew Mikael/eHow. What are the Benefits of Using OneNote? Retrieved from

Debbi Landshoff/TechSoup (June 28, 2012). Is Microsoft OneNote the One for You? Retrieved from