MS OneNote GTD Experience

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss Tools & Software for GTD' started by AFG, Feb 20, 2019.

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  1. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    More and more I am using the OneNote Watch app on my Apple Watch to capture quick notes, both by voice and by finger scribbling. Also, for things like checklists.

    I am still using Apple iOS Reminders for my Grocery list

    It may not be the best watch app around. E.g. it does not have any "complications", the little widgets that you place on watch faces - unlike its "competitors" for capture, which are, from my POV
    • Apple iOS Reminders
      • nice for "voice only" commands - "Hey Siri, remind me to do XXX"
      • cannot enter long-ish notes, or even pause too long. Pause indicates end of note
    • Drafts
      • bigger voice chunks than Reminders, but this only works when connected
    • Just Press Record
      • works online and offline, records voice, transcript when online
    All of these alternatives require an extra step, to move data from them into OneNote. JPR requires at least two: first to transcribe, then to move. 3 if you count deleting the original on iPhone. More if you count the frequent transcription failures that need to be retried.

    Whereas the OneNote watch app captures voice as text, and saves a step, leaving it directly in OneNote. Yeah, I often need to edit to clean up voice transcription errors. But that's part of review.

    Example session:
    • lift watch to turn on
    • "Hey Siri! Open OneNote"
    • => OneNote screen, with recent items, and (+) to add more
    • Poke (+) with finger (or nose) to start recording
    • Record... can't be too long, but can be longer than an iOS Reminder, and can pause while thinking
      • overall comparable to drafts.
    • Poke [Done] button on watch with finger (or nose)
    • Press digital crown to go back to main watch face. (Is there a way to do that by voice?)
    I wish that the stuff in orange could be eliminated. I wish that there was a way to say "I'm done" by voice - and that it returned to the watch face, rather than staying in the OneNote watch app.I wish I did not need to poke the watch with my nose so often. (I wish that I had a third arm and hand, so that I could hold my dog's leash, hold the watch up, and poke at the screen with my third hand.)

    I have placed the OneNote watch app in the "dock" on my Apple Watch. Means that it is only one side button click away most of the time. Nevertheless, I would love to have two or more "complication"/gadgets for watch faces: one to go directly into capturing an item by voice, and one to go to the list of recent notes for reading.

    There does not seem to be a way, in the OneNote watchapp, to navigate to one of my GTD notebooks and lists. Too bad. Might save even more steps if I could voice enter stuff directly into GTD.
     
  2. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    Synching OneNote Apple Watch --> iPhone --> PC/Cloud/...

    There seems to be no manual synch command on watch or iPhone.


    iPhone --> PC/Cloud seems only to happen when the iPhone OneNote app opened. I guess that I do not do that often, since I only just got stuff from Thursday synched. (More and more I find that I want to use only my watch or my PC. More and more I want to avoid using my iPhone.)

    I haven't done experiments to figure out how long it takes.

    It sure would be nice to have a "When was I last synched" indication on watchapp and/or iPhone.

    It sure would be nice to have a central place where last synch times are recorded.
    E.g.
    • Watch - last synched ...
    • iPhone - last synched
    • PC Outlook 2016 - last synched
    • PC Outlopok for Windows 10 - last synched
    • iPad ...
    Bonus points if pressing a button on PC can reach out and ask watch OneNote to synch.


    There is a "synch now" button on PC Outlook 2016 (and probably other). It seems to do what it says - although synchs are regularly schedule anyway.
     
  3. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    My OneNote flow involves moving pages beteeen sections quite a lot.

    OneNote is quite slow at this. Unreasonably slow. Hypotheses: (a) section size, (b) are OneDrive Cloud storage, (c) having links between pages seems to slow down copies and moves a lot.

    Also: I have been trying to capture everything from all of my devices (PC, iPhone, Watch) into the same Inbox. These seems to cause synchronization problems - yesterday I was not allowed to move a bunch of items because OneNote was waiting to synchronize. First time Indid something else, came back after 45 ‘inured, all was done. Second time, I rebooted after half an hour.

    To deal with the slowness of moving pages between sections (GTD items between lists) more and more I am batching things - creating a parent page to which I hang items, then move all of the AI items en masse (and go get a cup of tea).
     
  4. Gardener

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    I'm starting to get the vibe that you may be exceeding OneNote's capabilities, and a corruption/crash may be threatening. Is everything very, very thoroughly backed up?
     
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  5. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    OneNote's encryption model SUCKS!!!

    You can only encrypt sections. Not individual pages. Not notebooks. Not section groups containing sections. And sections cannot contain other sections.

    This is a problem when the meaningful title that I would like to give a section is itself sensitive, and needs to be hidden.

    So instead of a meaningful section name, I have to have a section named something like "Private Stuff #3", with the first page name being what really should be the section name.
     
  6. AFG

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    1N: BKM: Processing Log - Raw - Inbox

    My workflow is to collect most (almost all) stuff in Log - Raw - Inbox and to quick filter it.
    Creating Link Pages, typically moving items to GTD lists action/ref/projects, leaving links behind in log.

    Unfortunately, Create Link Pages has been quite slow in Log - Raw - Inbox, with perhaps 500-1000 pages.

    (I think some of the slowness might be due to pages that have not completely synchronizxed - also, slow algos required to find selected pages by scanning. OneTastic has no way to "insert page after current page", and the default inserting at top or bottom is quite annoying.)

    So, to speed things up, I created Log - Raw > Scratch

    Am moving the oldest few pages there (sorted by date in the original Log - Raw - Inbox) and am then running macros like
    Create Link Page* and TOC++ there.

    Much faster, with far fewer pages.

    Medium term, I will fix the macro perf problems if possible. (Today I went and found out what the problem was.)

    But short term, this workaround makes life much more pleasant.
     
  7. AFG

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    I keep thrashing between

    1) Dump everything into the same Raw-Log-Inbox, and process it from there,
    and
    2) Have multiple Inboxes

    These performance problems, hangs, when a script accesses items that have not synchronized yet, is pushing me towarads separating out at least for that.

    AFAICT OneTastic will tell me if a section contains pages that have not synchronized yet, but will not tell me if a page object has not synched yet, or, more important, if a page object will hang when I try to access it. The GUI doesn't seem to have that problem.
     
  8. AFG

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    On my PC, in OneNote 2016, I have 43 pages in my "Log - Raw - Inbox" that are "Untitled", whose content is "(i) Loading... Please wait."

    These are being synched from iPhone-->MS OneDrive->OneNote 2016 on my PC

    The pages get in the way.

    I cannot select them, move them around, or move them to another folder.

    My "Page Info" macro in OneTastic tells med the page does not exist. I can't create a list of these pages to go back to later.

    I can move other pages around them. But since these pages are scattered, I have to do this carefully - I can't just select a block at a time.

    My OneTastic sort macro can do a reasonable job of moving these pages all together in a clump at beginning or end.



    MORAL: I need to synch iPhone Onenote to a separate section, so that these "(i) Loading... Please wait." Currently called "Raw Inbox - iPhone or other"

    That's been a workflow problem - yet another place to look for captures - but now I realize that I don't want to process in that section, just wait until synched, and then transfer over to my main "Log - Raw - Inbox"
     
  9. AFG

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    OneNote LOG structure: all together, vs section per week

    When I started using OneNote as my principal capture tool, capturing items into a time sequential LOG from which I might copy/link/refile into places like GTD next action/project/reference lists, I had to make a basic decision:

    First: 1 page per day, or 1 page per topic? Although at first and repeatedly I tried to do 1 page per day, I concluded that does not work well. The GTD guide for OneNote's advice of having a separate page per list item works better.

    Second: Section structure: one big section, section per day/week/month/...

    Should my LOG be arranged as a single section, always increasing in size?
    • This was especially attractive while I was attempting to create a single LOG page per day, with many different items in each day
    • Although see below - it has been my preferred approach for many years, until my frustration with OneNote / Onetastic slowness grew overwhelming
    Or should be LOG be divided into different sections?
    • Section per Day
      • Too frequent - some days have little or no activity, while others have hundreds of items (typically new todo items spawned)
      • Although attractive because it then lets me use OneNote's very limited subpage facility for organizing topics within a day
        • whereas otherwise I am tempted to use subpages for per day organization
    • Section per Week
    • Section per Month
    • Section per year - too coarse
    Obviously, if I use a relatively fine grain section per day or week I might consider using section groups per moth, and so on.

    (With the usual caveat that weeks and months do not align.)

    I've revisited this decision at least twice - typically when starting at a new company - and both times I have ended up gravitating towards "One Big Section".

    Main reason: you can scroll back as far as you want, and still see a structure in your page titles. I often want to reorganize topics in groups that span day/week boundaries - although when I do so, it is often an indication that I need to use a GTD Project.

    But... Slow!! :-( as I have posted several times, OneNote, and especially the OneTastic macro extension, can become exceedingly slow as section size increases. So, more and more I have been moving a few days at a time into a Scratch folder while doing GTD processing involving move stuff to GTD project or next action lists.

    This is causing me to revisit the idea of using a section per week, naturally limiting section size, and speeding things up. Section per month less attractive, because in a single month I can create enough items to make the doing stuff slow.


    PROBLEM: I find that I often want to look back a few weeks. Looking at page titles, rather than searching.

    I am thinking about moving to a section per week for weeks more than a month past - and living with a section per month for recent stuff. This is suboptimal because, as I have said, in a month my LOG can grow large enough to make things slow. Moving chunks of pages off to scratch if I need to speed that up.


    ---

    Apart from the slowness issue for large sections, what is really needed is a time telescoped. A view that allows you to see, e.g. +/- 2 weeks of context, even if that interval spans a month or year boundary.

    ---


    This issue with OneNote section structure is quite similar to organizing email folders. Some people are obsessive about organizing email by time period - week/month/year... while others just leave email in big folders (Inbox, increasingly also Archive), and rely on search. Possibly using topic folders, categories, etc.


     
  10. AFG

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    OneNote / OneTastic slowness

    OneNote gets quite slow as size increases.

    E.g. deleting pages gets slower and slower. I think this is related to the size of the per Notebook bin. I think that it is also related to the number of links in the pages being moved or deleted. It seems as if OneNote may be updating some database table of links.

    E.g. moving and copying pages between notebooks gets slower and slower.

    Onetastic macros are, if anything, worse.

    Part of Onetastic's speed problem seems to be due to the fact that there is no concept of "insert a page after the current page". There is a GetCurrentPage function - but in order to insert after or before the current page, you need to find the page number on the current section. Which, as far as I know, requires scanning the list of pages in a section sequentially, comparing page object Ids. The pageIds themselves are big strings, probably hard to compare in and of itself.


    If the pages in a section are sorted, e.g. by time as in a LOG, a slightly more efficient binary search can be used.
     
  11. AFG

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    Read-Only

    I would often like to make OneNote items read-only.

    I have had far too many accidental edits, accidental reorganizations of lists due to accidental swipes on the ALPS touchpad

    Especially in a time based LOG, or in a REFERENCE section.


    Unfortunately, OneNote does not have read-only pages.

    It does have read-only sections.

    However, read-only access seems to require changing filesystem permissions. It seems that there is no way to mark read-only from within OneNote.


    OneNote can set password protected from within OneNote. However, password protected all or nothing is not the same as read-only.
     

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