Featured on Twitter!

Yesterday was a cool day! I woke up to find that I had been “mentioned” on Twitter with one of my blog posts: Organize your OneNote: Using Pages and Sub Pages. Thank you so much to OneNote Central for posting my blog on your Twitter feed.

I have only recently been tweeting my blog posts on Twitter, and so it’s nice to know that those efforts are paying off. I got close to 100 visits just from that one post, so that’s pretty neat.

Organizing your OneNote: Pages, Sections, Section Groups, Notebooks?

One question that comes up fairly frequently is How do I organize my information in OneNote?

That question then invariably generates a bunch of different options:

  • Using pages
  • Using pages and subpages
  • Using sections
  • Using section groups and sections
  • Using different notebooks

Of course, just like the methodology for using planners is a very personal choice, so is the use of OneNote. My way may not work for you, and your way may not work for me.

Over the course of this month I will share with you how I organize information in my OneNote notebooks, using a variety of different methods. Hopefully this will give you some ideas on how to organize your electronic binder.

Use Case: Collaborating in the Cloud

Collaboration is everywhere, and Cloud Services are proving to be a wonderful collaboration tool. Take this weekend for example. I was helping a husband and wife team with some marketing for their business. They had cards with their customer contact information, they had some printed articles written by a colleague, and copies of old brochures that they wanted to refresh with a new look.

While one of them entered the contact list into a cloud spreadsheet, the other used the text-to-voice feature on a smart phone to dictate the articles and brochure content into a word processing document that was located in the cloud. After dictating the content from the phone, he edited the content directly in the online document on his computer. While they were doing the data entry and copy creation, I worked on making the brochures, using the content that had been edited in these documents.

We were working on three separate machines, all in the same room. My team’s knowledge of computers was fairly basic, and thus the cloud experience offered a very calm space where we could all see the work at the same time and talk through the work, without the need to talk through the steps of transmitting the work or walking around the desk to view someone’s monitor. I was able to access the content without the pesky need to email or upload files, and it was almost pure heaven.

When a field was missing in the contact list, I was able to add it to the spreadsheet in my browser, and when it showed up on her end, she could enter the necessary information. When he needed bullets in his content, I could just give him bullets without needing to talk him through how to create them, or walk over to his machine to add them.

Before working in the cloud, we would have needed a local server, USB sticks, or sent copious emails to each other, wasting a lot of time, a lot of bandwidth, but most of all, causing a lot of confusion. Work would have stopped every time another person needed to review the files because having more than one person in the same file was almost impossible.

Another benefit of working in the cloud is that the content is saved every few seconds. That meant that if someone accidentally closed a browser, the work just waited for them to return whenever they were ready. There was no panic of having forgotten to save the document. Remember those days of panic? Yea, me too.

This was their first experience truly working in the cloud and I think they were impressed. From my standpoint, I enjoyed not having to take over someone’s machine to fix issues here and there. Whenever I have to do that, I feel like I am in someone’s space, invading their computer. And while I am always happy to teach anyone what they need, sometimes all that learning can be overwhelming and take away from the creativity needed to develop content. Being able to resolve things from my own machine while leaving them in their space and their own thoughts was an added benefit of working in this collaborative environment.

How not to roll out SharePoint

We are in what is probably the third roll out or adoption push for SharePoint Online and Office 365. A few reasons for this have to do with how all this was rolled out to start with, and it may serve as a lesson to you if you’re thinking of planning your own adoption.

First, there was no real plan. There was a desire to build an intranet, but no real idea of how it would work and how we would end up collaborating. Going from email as your only collaboration tool to SharePoint and OneDrive is quite the leap, and our division is still getting used to the idea.

Second, I believe we are on a backwards implementation track. We should have implemented Exchange Online first since a lot of Office 365 and SharePoint Online features need the integration of Exchange Online in order to take full advantage. Instead, Exchange Online is the last piece of the puzzle that we’re implementing.

Third, we have little buy-in from leadership. While the initial push came from the Vice President, after getting the project going, there has been little interest to bring that around to actually encouraging top-down adoption.

To recap our experience, we essentially went from a horrible roll out with a foreign login process with only private team sites and lots of access error messages, to creating somewhat public sites along the private team sites so if you click on something you at least get *somewhere*.

From there we simplified the login process (future posts to provide painstaking detail on consequences so you’ll know why you want to fix this up front) and started teaching everyone the tricks for connecting their lists and libraries to Microsoft Outlook. Of course that doesn’t help the Mac users, but the PC users love it. In the next few posts I will walk through how to set alerts and how to connect your SharePoint calendar, discussion lists, and announcement lists to your Microsoft Outlook application.

Pinterest as a productivity tool

In the past I did a post on Pinterest, and how I use it as my bookmarks system for capturing work. I have a couple of work related boards including Office365 resources, SharePoint Pages/Posts for specific references, and SharePointBlogs/Websites for general sites that I have found, that I keep an eye on and reference periodically.

My Pinterest boards come in handy sometimes when I need content for this blog, or if I need to solve a particular problem and I know I have seen an article about that problem. It’s a great filing system. When it comes to productivity tools, OneNote is my favorite productivity tool in Office365, and Pinterest is my favorite productivity in the realm of Social Media.

I am generally not a big fan of the “big brother” aspect of websites where they picks things I might be interested in, and in particular, advertisements based on my viewing history really bug me. Especially around Christmas time. So much for me trying to search for a gift for someone in my household. Next time I load my Facebook or another website, my cookies generate all kinds of ads for those gift ideas. Great way to keep my gift idea a secret, right?

In the case of Pinterest, however, I really don’t mind that it “helps” me. I cannot scour the web for everything related to a topic and so I am glad when Pinterest helps me out by presenting something that might be helpful to me. I have found some very special nuggets that way, and it continues to feed me new ideas.

So if you haven’t used Pinterest before or you haven’t figured out how a good way to use it, try it as a productivity tool. I think you might surprise yourself when you see the wealth of information that’s out there to help you do your job.

Feedback from our people after SharePoint adoption

It’s been almost a year since I took this position of SharePoint Business Architect and Administrator for our division. We have seen quite a bit of use of SharePoint in that time, and we have also seen usage become more accepted and are finding a more positive outlook on this software.

I thought I would share some of the feedback from the site owners around the division.

“We have begun to share resources with team members via SharePoint and look forward to transitioning to that platform along with the Division of Student Affairs!”

“I have had a great experience so far, but have not delved too deeply into it. The challenge is setting aside time to learn.”

“We just need time to sit down and figure out how to implement it for our department.”

“We just need time to sit down and figure out how to implement it for our department.”

“SharePoint can be a little confusing—perhaps not as intuitive as I would like—but I am committed to making the system work because I believe it will be a useful tool for DSA and for our department.”

“We have used SharePoint in the past, we just need to familiarize ourselves with this new program. [We plan to use it] to have a central location for our policies and procedures.”

“I need to be very knowledgeable on this before I approach moving to this direction. This means finding time in my schedule to work with it outside the training I’m receiving. Finding that time will be another challenge.”

“It seems overwhelming at first, but with patience and the courage to try something unfamiliar, it’s a great system to use!”

“I plan to use it to get the word out there about [our] initiatives including resources and how various departments … can be involved. It is a learning process and we can all help each other get there!”

“I think it can be really useful for us. Be flexible and keep trying!”

“[Unfortunately,] on every project we want to use SharePoint for, we have non-VT users/members of that group [making it difficult logistically for us].”

“It has potential to allow us to access important communications within the DSA, as well as storage of frequently needed resources and documents within our team. [SharePoint] is not that scary 🙂 “

Using promoted links to create a pseudo Pinterest board

Pinterest is a great resource for housing your online reference system, for recipes as well as for work related items. I have a number of Office365 or SharePoint boards that I reference regularly, so it was no surprise to me that the Strengths team was collaborating on using Pinterest to gather resources specific to the 34 Clifton StrengthFinders themes, both for personal reference and also for Strength Consultants to use in coaching sessions.

Once you’ve created that great resource on Pinterest, the inevitable question then becomes: how do we get these boards into SharePoint? In testing the functionality for embedding the actual Pinterest board into SharePoint and discovering that it does not work in all browsers, I started thinking about other approaches, and Promoted Links seemed an obvious choice, and this graphic below shows what that could look like. It accomplishes the same task and I like that everything looks uniform.

SharePoint: Promoted Links - Pinterest Board