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OneNote lends a helping hand

Today’s post about OneNote was written by Jean White, who collaborated with Steven Luker to share his story. 

Steven Luker is an avid OneNote user. At first glance, though, his situation might seem very different from most people. Because of cerebral palsy, he uses a wheelchair, is non-verbal and has full use of only one arm.

When Steven shared with us how he uses technology to solve a lot of the problems he deals with, something became evident: Steven is a lot like everyone else. He’s a busy guy, juggling home life, a startup and involvement his church and in the tech community—and he needs a way to keep track of everything. He found a way to use OneNote to support him and his tricks can help you too.

OneNote is the quickest way for Steven to make notes that he can easily retrieve from his computer, iPad, a web browser or his Windows Phone. Notes are also a great way for him to communicate with people. He can type up notes ahead of time—like a restaurant order or requests for a bus driver—and show them later. With shared notebooks, he can stay up-to-date on communication with his wife too. Have you ever forgotten a grocery list at home? Can’t remember what your spouse wanted you to pick up on the way home? Follow Steven’s lead and share a notebook so you can see a current version of lists and requests.

At an impromptu business meeting, jotting down a brilliant idea on a napkin is fine, but it’s not a permanent record. Instead, take your notes in OneNote so they don’t get lost in the wash. And if your ideas are already written on paper? Take a tip from Steven and use Office Lens to add “napkin notes” into a notebook.

Steven uses Office Lens, a Windows Phone app, to take pictures of business cards, handouts, documents and signed forms or receipts. He takes pictures of things on whiteboards, bulletin boards and other items he can’t see clearly because of his vantage point from a wheelchair. The images are also saved into OneNote, which saves Steven loads of time. Instead of retyping printed text, he just opens the images in OneNote. OneNote automatically recognizes printed text so Steven can search for—and even copy—text from the images. He can paste the text into other apps too—like email or Word. Office Lens is a quick way for him to remember things or just save them for later and it’s easier than handwriting.

Not everyone knows that OneNote can capture audio and video as well. It’s a huge time saver for Steven and it’s a godsend for any student. Instead of writing copious notes, sit back, enjoy the lecture and have OneNote capture it for you. You can take some notes if you’d like—your typed words will be synced to the audio so you’ll know their context.

In business scenarios, OneNote is a great way to collaborate and share notes and ideas. In previous work, Steven’s goal was a completely paperless office. Currently, as he gets his startup off the ground, he works with OneNote so he can focus on his project and not on where his notes are.

OneNote lends a hand

Steven Luker (background) with his friend Adam (foreground).

With OneNote, Steven doesn’t have to worry about organizing notes on the fly. He can be as organized or as messy as he wants because finding notes in OneNote is easier than finding them in a book bag or filing cabinet. And sharing them in email is simple too.

In Steven’s case, he has full use of only one arm. Before OneNote, Steven used to misplace papers in the bags attached to his wheelchair. Who hasn’t misplaced a boarding pass, ticket to a show, or important directions scrawled on a sticky note? Paper filing systems are fine—until it’s time to find something. Think though of how many two-handed people say they could use an extra hand. People often try jotting a note on the back of a business card while juggling a phone, a latté or a fussy baby.

For Steven, OneNote is mission-critical and goes a long way to solving the problems he deals with. But everyone can benefit from adopting his techniques to stay organized.

You can find Steven on Twitter at @1ArmedGeek. 

—Jean White




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