How do you stay organised?…

With the growing volume of e-mails, meetings, blogs, RSS feeds, tasks, projects, plans, media outlets etc. coupled with balancing work-life balance and your sanity – staying organised and on top of things is a challenge.

I’m always interested in finding out what systems people use to manage the crazy day-to-day requirements of modern living.

I have filed this post under “He would say that”, as my primary tool is Microsoft OneNote.  It’s the centre of my working day and I still keep finding new features and capabilities.

What do you use? How you you stay on top of things? Let me know!


Organisation Central

So what do I use OneNote for?

Here are just some of the uses and features that I use….


imageEmail Archive: using this button on the Outlook 2007 toolbar I archive all my e-mail in OneNote automatically (including attachments) making it easy to index, search, organise and browse



Meeting Notes: I record, file and archive every meeting so that I can review the notes for actions, next steps and reminders

Bonus: If you record audio of a meeting on your laptop while using OneNote, it automatically time stamps the audio with any notes you make.


Project Planning: With OneNote I can pull together files, links, text, pictures and handwritten notes on a single page making it simple to get access to the information you need for a project.


Daily Notes: I have a new OneNote page for each day where I record thoughts, events etc.  If a particular item requires a project I can simply create a new linked page in OneNote and get started.



Next Actions: Once I’ve finished a meeting I review my notes and when I spot an action item I can create an Outlook task directly from inside OneNote.  The task then appears in Outlook with an automatic link back to the relevant OneNote page (and you can also create meetings).





Capture information: I can insert and attach files, scans, I can print documents into OneNote, I can capture web pages and articles for future reference (and OneNote automatically inserts the local URL).


Find everything: OneNote not only offers fast text search, it indexes PDFs and images and integrates with Windows Desktop Search so you can find whatever information you’re looking for, wherever you are on your PC, when you need it.



Tagging: In addition to fast search you can tag any item in OneNote.  Then at a later date you can run a report that pulls all your tagged items into a single page report.






OneNote on the go: If you have a Windows Mobile phone, you can take OneNote Mobile wherever you go and automatically add notes to your PC when you get back to the office.  You can also copy pages from OneNote to your phone to take with you on the road.




OneNote Powertools: Finally there’s a whole range of different add-ons for Outlook from utilities that let you import and export HTML pages, to gadgets that let you quickly and easily send a page to your phone. (See link below)

So… how are you staying organised?


Other tools I use:


OneNote Resources:

For those into David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” approach to work:



[Cross posted on my Microsoft blog]

Devices of mass disruption… what is PR?.. Blog rankings… Web 2.0 fatigue…

Device of mass disruption or eh is it a phone?

Guys seriously I have stayed silent on this subject long enough. 

It’s a phone.

It’s not a six inch device of mass disruption.

Apple has done a good design job but I am bored to my back teeth with the ridiculous posts and tweets.

I had a radio on my cell phone in the late 90’s.  If these devices were going to disrupt/kill/change radio it would be more likely to happen with radios on MP3 players.

Why, oh why, is every 1.0 release of every 1.0 piece of hardware or software "game changing"?

Me? I love my HTC, fantastic resolution, full touch screen, proper camera, great keyboard for grown up e-mail and word processing, not to mention loads of software – and the best part?

It’s not threatening to kill any industries, take people’s jobs and the battery lasts more than 35 minutes and HTC don’t advise you to turn off the 3G, you can have all the speed you like baby.


*I debated whether to categorize this under "He would say that", and I did in the end. But regardless this is true.

What’s PR then?

Bill Sledzik takes a run at a unified definition of public relations working through a variety of textbook definitions.

Tom’s Opinion: This is a breath of fresh air, it’s great to get some informed writing on this topic.  Too often when PR is discussed, what’s really being discussed is "media relations", which although a major element of the profession is not the whole story.  This is also the reason why we see so much rubbish about the "death of PR".  The reality is that great communication remains a strong and valuable asset and Web 2.0 doesn’t change that.  Yes it’s about relationships (duh), yes it’s about understanding the tools and channels, but at the core it’s about great communication and and audience insight.

[Bill also tackles the issue of whether PR is part of marketing.]


PR Blog Ranking Mania:

Man it’s PR blog rank weekend an I’m sinking faster than a stone, however while I’m gurgling water, I’ll use one of my last breaths to pass congratulations to Stuart Bruce :-)

More here, here, here, oh and here.


Web 2.0 Fatigue

Lauren Vargas has an interesting post on Web 2.0 fatigue and how to avoid it, she has a really interesting video (though it’s a little out of date) at the foot of the post -  worth a watch!

PR: Ying + Yang is the discussion

I was watching Ray Ozzie’s keynote at the Microsoft MIX 07 event in Las Vegas this week and one of his opening comments struck a chord:

I’ve been fortunate enough to have survived five major platform shifts over the course of my career, and in each case at the beginning of an era, somebody took that extreme position.  And in each case, when all was said and done, it just never quite seemed to work out that way.  The pendulum certainly did swing, and disruption certainly did occur for those who had their heads in the sand about the capabilities of a new technology, but in each case, as things ultimately settled out, the best solutions were integrated solutions that would bring together the best of one world with the best of the other.


I think this is equally valid when it comes to Public Relations. 

We are facing change – and the few who ignore it will suffer – but what will emerge is an integration of our traditional Public Relations tools and techniques married to the best that the online world has to offer.

The most interesting discussion for PR today is not how the Interweb is changing PR.  Rather it is about how we build integrated campaigns that bring together the best of both worlds.

It’s not necessarily a discussion about finding time, budget and resources for Web 2.0. Rather it is a discussion on how we can build one campaign with online and offline elements.

Now that’s an interesting discussion.

One small step…

We all get caught up in our day-to-day lives  We’re stressed, under pressure, running around to meet deadlines. Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to sit back and take a breath.

I had an opportunity yesterday to do just that on what was an incredibly busy day – probably the most busy day of the year so far.

The Irish business launch of Windows Vista, 2007 Microsoft Office and Exchange 2007 took place at Croke Park in Dublin yesterday.  Obviously from a professional perspective it represented the culmination of an incredibly intense period of planning and preparation. That’s before you throw in media and community activities around the event.

The keynote speaker for the launch was Neil Amstrong, the first man to walk on the surface of the moon.

Given that I have never been one to get overly excited about space travel, rockets, magnetic fields, solar flares or turbines, I doubted it would have an impact on me - but it did.

Standing and listening to him talk with a group of 10 and 11 year old school kids in private (this wasn’t a PR stunt) I was blown away by his life experiences.  Seeing his achievements through the excitement and wonder of the kids had a major impact on me. 

When you stop and think about what they achieved – at a time when their only computer had 4K memory – it’s a staggering tale of bravery, intelligence and ingenuity.

It made me stop and think.  Now that’s not a bad thing to do once in a time. 

Then it was back to work…. 


Blogs: Do they need to be first hand or boring?

There were a lot of great questions and observations at the event in Edinburgh last week, but two particular questions struck a chord with me.

1) Are blogs ready for every market?

Although there’s no empirical data that I’ve seen or would stand over, I think it’s fair to say that common sense tells us that the size and maturity of blog readership differs from one geography and market to another. 

For example, in the US technology industry, blogs are mature and influential, however, in a given UK market the immediate influence and first-hand readership is probably significantly lower.

First-hand is the key term however.

A less sophisticated Internet user doesn’t know or care if they’re using a blog.  They just see a website.

They probably find information using one of the better search engines* and whatever relevant results arrive they navigate to. It’s unlikely they’ll add your RSS feed (yet) but that doesn’t matter – what matters is that they’ve found and are reading your content or opinions. 

Using blogs to deliver this content is a powerful tool in itself.  The combination of the blog’s SEO friendly format with the power of modern search engines means that your content can be incredibly valuable even if the current readership is small.

Information overload is always going to limit the number of feeds you monitor (without more sophisticated intelligence) so the “long tail” effect is a powerful one – particularly in the, as of yet, nascent online community. Of course first-hand readership is important – but it’s not the only measure.


2) But surely some subjects are just too boring to blog about?

Are they? In practically every sector around the globe there is an ecosystem of producers, suppliers and customers. That presents some opportunities from a blog creation perspective.

When this question was posed it was in relation to a drinks manufacturer who had started an (inane) blog about its products.  The blog content was appalling – blowing it’s own trumpet – with no value for the reader. The result is a blog that will never deliver the results its creators were aiming for.

But does that mean that certain companies or sectors will never have suitable content for a blog? Nope.

It’s not the blog that’s the problem it’s the content creators.  Think how and why your blog could be interesting.  It could be supporting your community efforts, covering company news or views.  The alternatives are endless.  The lazy option is to blow your own trumpet – the successful option is researching what your audience would value.

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*Cut me some slack, it’s the search engine I use :-)

Windows Live Writer

The latest release out of the Windows Live stable is a beta of Windows Live Writer, a new desktop application for publishing blog posts (and in the future potentially other forms of online content).

Setting aside the fact that the product is from my employer, it’s an interesting application.  It supports all the major blog platforms (WordPress, Moveable Type, Spaces etc.) and along with all the usual formatting options you’d expect, it adds a range of other useful features including the spell checker, WYSIWYG editing and the automatic capability to upload photos to your blog and then add effects to them.

For example:

It also allows you to insert Windows Live Maps and with the release of a Software Development Kit it’s likely there’ll be a raft of plug-ins released that will add even more functionality.

If you’re blogging on Windows it’s definitely worth a look.


Tim Heuer has already released two new plug-ins for Windows Live Writer. Tag4Writer enables you to add Technorati tags to your post and Flickr4Writer enables you to insert pictures from Flickr.


Microsoft Word for Blogs

I work for Microsoft – it’s always worthwhile to get these things out in the open.

I’m using the new blog features that have been included in the latest beta of 2007 Word to write this post.

Word is obviously still in beta and according to Joe Friend on the Office team [via Neville Hobson] this was a late addition. 

I think it still needs work to make the set up a little easier – and I have had a problem with the date – it defaults to 1970 but given it’s a beta I’m sure that will be ironed out.

Blogging from Word makes a lot of sense to me. But then I would say that wouldn’t I? :-)