How to use Microsoft OneNote to track tasks

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I use Microsoft OneNote to manage my professional career. It has everything from general notes, meeting notes, research notes, reference materials, and my to-do list of tasks.

To track tasks I use the “tag” feature of OneNote. There are many built-in tag names but I also customize the list with my own names. The tag becomes a task category that I can group with (i.e. Priority 1, Priority 2, Personnel, etc.)

Note: The current version of OneNote that I use is from Office 2010.

Customize the tag list

1. From the home tab select the down/end arrow on the Tags list.

One Note Tags 1


2. At the bottom of the tag list select “Customize Tags”

3. Define a new tag or modify an existing one. If I am defining the type of task that will be tracked, then I used a Symbol that contains room for a checkbox.

OneNote Tags 2


OneNote Tags 3

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Add tags to task titles

1. Within any note, type a task name and then select the tag name for the tags list. This will apply the tag symbol in front of your task name on the note.

OneNote Task Titles

2. Use the space below the task name to keep up with the details of the task. I often precede the detail with the date name.

3. I don’t always keep all tasks in one notebook section. Tasks can be defined anywhere within the notebook, sections, or notes.

Track tasks

1. To view the centralized list of all tasks select the “Find Tags” button in the navigation bar. Then look at the tags in the right-side navigation. You can filter the tasks in different ways.

OneNote Task List2. From the right-side navigation if you select an individual task/tag it will navigate you to the specific location of the task where you can add supporting details.


3. I use the checkbox to indicate that the task is completed.

4 Questions To Ask About Aging “To Do” List Tasks

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Knowledge workers today are expected to process increasing amounts of information each day. If you’re like me then your “to do” list is a mile long and has tasks that are buried at the bottom and have been for some time. Whether by shifting business priorities, resource constraints, or simply a volume processing limitation, I just don’t seem to be able to get to some tasks. Task management can be a challenge.

I’m not one to carry and maintain a set of tasks if they are not relevant or don’t provide value to someone of something. I like to try to keep my “to do” list focused and relevant. So as part of my task management process, I’ve created a set of questions to ask myself about any aging tasks. If my answer is “no” to any of these questions, then it may be time to remove or archive the task.

1. Does the task align with organizational goals?

This is the mission question. Does my task align with the core purpose and mission of the organization? Typically for this I check to see if the task aligns with sub-department or departmental goals because those should be aligned to the overall goals of the business.

2. Does the task have business justification or return?
This is the money question. Is my task justified because it will produce a return greater worth more than the time I will spend completing the task? The justification may be through direct money contribution or indirectly by maintaining a valued client relationship.

3. Does the task have the support of management?
This is the management question. Does my boss support me completing this task? If I needed to get others to help me support the task then would my boss assist and support me within the organization? Complex tasks that require more than one person are extremely difficult to complete if you don’t have the support of the management layer between the people.

4. Is the task still relevant?
If I record a task on my “to do” list there was a reason. Circumstances may change with passing of time or external events that make the task no longer relevant.   If the reason, priority, urgency, etc. that prompted the task to go on the list in the first place is no longer be relevant then it may be time to remove or archive this task.

That’s my list of questions for aging tasks. What is your task management routine for aging tasks on your “to do” list?

How do you give adequate attention to tasks?

I struggled this week to keep up with my current task load while managing to deadlines and expectations. There were times that I thought that I was shortcutting some tasks because I needed to move on to other tasks. This thought resonated with me throughout the week and I’m curious how others handle task time.

Let’s say you have 5 active tasks and 4 of them are due at the end of the week. You start on task 1 and find yourself making quick decisions and hurrying to task 2 so that you can keep an adequate pace to complete all the tasks. At the end of the day you have completed task 1 but have not done a through job.

Doe this type of scenario happen in your work or home life? How do you manage to this and how do you rationalize the actions in your mind? Write to me, as I’d like to get some feedback on this as a possible way to improve my work habits and structure.