A Community Contribution from Ryan Oakley
Whether you’re a proficient OneNote user or just started using it after reading my GTD and OneNote article posted on GTD Times it doesn’t take long to populate the software with a tonne of pages and a tonne of information (yes, I am Canadian).
First, some definitions:
MS Office OneNote 2007 is a digital notebook that provides people one place to gather their notes and information, powerful search to find what they are looking for quickly, and easy-to-use shared notebooks so that they can manage information overload and work together more effectively.
ActiveWords is a Windows application that relates words and actions, giving you instant access to what you want, making you more productive, and improving the quality of your work. (Editors note: ActiveWords was also featured in a podcast by David Allen.)
For quick access to all your stuff, OneNote allows you to organize things really well into Books, Sections, Pages, and Sub-pages and they provide a nifty search box and tagging capabilities. But those are like driving a Honda Civic – good, reliable, and gets you from A-B – but what I really want is a Ferrari – fast, exciting, and the envy of all my colleagues (OK, that last one is a bit of a stretch).
Enter ActiveWords (I’ll wait while you head back up to the ActiveWords definition). OK. Still don’t really understand what ActiveWords does? Maybe this will help…
ActiveWords allows me to do Ferrari like things. (Keep in mind that ActiveWords works on top of windows so I can do any of the following while working in any program):
- Open software such as Google Earth by typing “Earth” F8,
- Open the GTD Times website by typing “GTDT” F8,
- Ditto for “Gmail” F8 (yes, ActiveWords has replaced marking favourites for websites)
- “Cal” F8 to open up Outlook Calendar
- “T” F8 to create a new outlook task (even if Outlook isn’t open!)
- “Projects” F8 to open up my projects folder buried deep in windows explorer
- “CFS” F8 to open up an excel file buried even deeper in windows explorer
In a nutshell, it moves me away from my mouse and using menu’s and allows me to use shortcuts on the keyboard with words that are intuitive rather than having to memorize things like “ctrl-shift-y” (No, I don’t know what that shortcut does – if anything)
So here’s how you can use ActiveWords to transform OneNote from a Honda Civic to a Ferrari.
Let’s say you’ve got a OneNote page that you access quite frequently. In my case, and in this example, it’s my GTD Weekly Review page:
My goal is to access this page in less than 2 seconds no matter where I may be working in Windows (aka I want to be Ferrari fast). To achieve this, we’ll need to create an ActiveWord. So buckle up and we’ll get started.
- Go to the page in OneNote where you want lighting speed access – “My GTD Weekly Review”, in this example.
- Right-click on the page and select “Copy Hyperlink to this Page” (see screen capture below) – Note that hyperlinks can be created in OneNote for books, sections, pages, sub-pages and even text or objects on a page.
- Move your cursor to somewhere (anywhere) on the OneNote page. Right-click and select “paste”.
- Right-click on this newly created hyperlink and select “copy hyperlink” (see screen capture below)
- Type “Add” then F8 to start the ActiveWords “Add” wizard, select “Open a Document”, and then click “Next”. (See screen capture below)
- Right-click and paste the hyperlink into the top dialogue box. Good habit to get into is to add a quick description while you’ve got the chance – e.g. “Open – My GTD Weekly Review OneNote page”. It helps you search for the ActiveWord if you ever forget it. Then click “Next”. (See screen capture below)
- Now determine your ActiveWord for this task – could be “GTDWR”, or “Weekly Review”, or something simple like “WR”. Then select “Finish”. (see screen capture below)
- Now whenever you want to get to that Weekly Review page in OneNote, just type “WR” F8 and you will be there in less than 2 seconds – even if OneNote isn’t open (but why wouldn’t it be??)
Use ActiveWords in all your “often accessed” OneNote info and become — Ferrari Fast.
This is Ryan Oakley’s second Community Contributor post to GTD Times. His first article on GTD & OneNote was so popular, he asked if he could contribute another. Look for more from Ryan in the coming months on his personal use of OneNote.