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3 Productivity Benefits in the Microsoft OneNote 2013 Preview

3 Productivity Benefits in the Microsoft OneNote 2013 Preview

The upcoming launch of Microsoft Office 2013 (and OneNote 2013 in particular) promise some solid productivity enhancements. OneNote becomes more collaborative, gains a bit more interactivity/intelligence, and becomes even more mobile friendly. After all, Microsoft OneNote is perhaps the best thing to come out of the Microsoft Office group and OneNote 2013 builds upon some of the additions we got a taste of in previous releases. I spent some time with the OneNote 2013 Preview and I really like what I see from a productivity standpoint because Microsoft is building upon lessons learned from OneNote 2010 — and a multi-platform approach that should help OneNote gain even more fans inside companies and amongst the solo set.

We’ve already shown some love here for OneNote  at Lifehack and I’ve seen some solid improvements in the next release that will benefit new and longtime OneNote users alike.

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Improved Sharing and Synchronization

When OneNote 2010 became an official part of the full Microsoft Office suite, it opened up the door for OneNote to take on more project collaboration roles whether the OneNote user is a freelancer or works inside a corporate cubicle. With OneNote 2013, you can synchronize OneNote across multiple devices using mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. There is also a web interface to OneNote that you can access from any Internet-connected PC. The sharing and synchronization by default extends to SkyDrive and SharePoint, which I like for virtual teams who need to share information. Once you have OneNote content saved to your SkyDrive account or SharePoint site, then you can email other team members a link to the latest OneNote content and never have to worry about emailing the content around — and the hijinks that can ensue as a team tries to stay on the same version.

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    Improved Tables

    As a technical writer, I use tables quite frequently in the documentation and training guides I produce, so I was happy to see improved tools for creating and manipulating tables in OneNote 2013. If you are a frequent user of tables as I am, you’ll find it easier to manipulate table headers, rows, and columns. I didn’t spend too much time on using the tools to create charts and perform calculations, but would definitely want to put them to work if I had a project that could benefit from the feature. This kind of intelligence in OneNote 2013 can open up a lot more potential uses for this already handy application inside businesses and project teams that work with numbers (and other tabular data) and are tired of management by spreadsheet.

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      Improved File Embedding

      When I create OneNote notebooks for projects, I invariably embed files in them. Typically, they are PDFs and Word documents that I gather as part of my research phase. Now with OneNote 2013 , you are able to embed new and existing Excel spreadsheets while providing you with a preview of the charts and diagrams next to your notes. When you update the Excel spreadsheet, you’ll be able to preview the updates in OneNote automatically. If you frequently capture images as part of your notes in OneNote, OneNote 2013’s search feature even lets you find words in pictures. I find this feature to be very handy for me when it comes to finding word in screen captures. I use it in Evernote Premium quite regularly, so its inclusion in OneNote 2013 could push me to reconsider returning to OneNote on a more full time basis.

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        Final Thoughts

        While OneNote 2010 marked OneNote’s full-scale entry into the hearts and workflows of many users, the release of OneNote 2013 takes this productivity and note-taking application to a new level because of its cloud and mobile device integration from day one.

        Are you going to upgrade to OneNote 2013? Let me know in the comments below.

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        Last Updated on February 15, 2019

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

        Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

        Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

        So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

        Joe’s Goals

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          Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

          Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

          Daytum

            Daytum

            is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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            Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

            Excel or Numbers

              If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

              What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

              Evernote

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                I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                Access or Bento

                  If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                  Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                  You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                  Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                  All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                  Conclusion

                  I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                  What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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