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OneNote Tags are Special: Use them to Manage Work and Study

OneNote-Tags-0-RememberEverythingThis is the second in a series of posts on taking notes and managing your work with OneNote. For an introduction to OneNote, click here.

If you have used social bookmarking tools like Diigo or Delicious, note taking software like Evernote, or even created a blog, you are probably familiar with tagging. Typically, you tag a note, webpage or blog post to categorize it. You might for example assign the tag “recipe” to web pages and notes containing recipes.

Where are tags used in OneNote?

OneNote tags are usually not applied to categorize whole documents or pages (for this you use notebooks, section groups and sections), but to mark individual items (e.g. headings, paragraphs, sentences, or even images) on pages.

OneNote includes a large number of predefined tags, allowing you to label items according to their type, or what you need to do with them. In addition to predefined tags, you can also create your own.

Read moreOneNote Tags are Special: Use them to Manage Work and Study

My Very Personal Smartphone History

P900-Nokia5800-Samsung GalaxySIII-RememberEverythingOrgThis year, in early August, I made the transition to a Samsung Galaxy S III, my first Android smartphone. In the future, you can expect to see several blog posts on how I am (hopefully) making my Galaxy into a productive powerhouse. The first post is already out. After all, without integrating it into one’s personal information management, any smartphone is just an expensive toy.

For me, this is the perfect time to look back at my personal smartphone history.

It started in June 2004 at Hong Kong’s international airport with a Sony Ericsson P900 (the smartphone on the left in the picture).

Read moreMy Very Personal Smartphone History

How to Really Keep all Files in Sync between Your Androids and PCs

With many people now owning a PC, a tablet, and a smartphone, Dropbox has become a very popular service to keep files in sync. You place your files, folders and subfolders in your PC’s Dropbox folder, and they should in principle be available in the cloud and on every other device with an installed Dropbox app.

Unfortunately, unlike the Windows app, Dropbox for Android phones and tablets doesn’t quite work this way. Only files you have marked as “Favorites” are downloaded to your local tablet or smartphone and thus available offline. All other files in your Android’s Dropbox are only accessible if you have a network connection, so for example not on a plane, not when you are on an expensive mobile network in a foreign country, and so on. What’s more, you can only mark files, not complete folders as favorites, and if a particular program doesn’t directly support Dropbox, you are out of luck as well. In a nutshell, Dropbox on Android is missing the sync.

As you can imagine, I was quite disappointed when I tried to sync my first Android phone. Are we in the 21st century, or what?

What I needed and wanted, was a real sync:

Read moreHow to Really Keep all Files in Sync between Your Androids and PCs

Six Tips for More Effective Foreign Language Vocabulary Learning

Foreign-Language-Vocabulary-Learning-RememberEverythingOrgLearning a foreign language is one the most rewarding and beneficial learning tasks I can think of. Even if you only have the time to learn the basics, you get such a boost in cultural understanding and ability to move around in a foreign land. As of today, I am fluent in three languages, and have learned two more to a level where I can express myself and get everything I need in daily life. Ideally, you want to learn a foreign language in a country where it is spoken, however most people initially encounter their first foreign language in school.

No matter where you are, one of the most important tasks is to build a reasonably large vocabulary fast, so that you express yourself, and use more natural learning resources to further improve your learning.

To this end, here are six tips to help you speed up your vocabulary learning, no matter whether you want to learn English, Chinese, French, German, Thai, or any other foreign language:

Read moreSix Tips for More Effective Foreign Language Vocabulary Learning

Catching Those Fleeting Bed and Bathroom Ideas

Bed-Idea-RememberEverythingOrgYesterday, I was lying in my bed, ready to go to sleep, but my mind wasn’t yet. A few ideas for upcoming blog posts popped up, and I surely wasn’t going to let them go. Not wanting to get up again, I quite literally stored them in my brain – in a small mnemonic filing system.
What do you do with ideas or other thoughts that occur to you while lying in your bed, sitting on the toilet, or taking a shower? Do you always have your smartphone, or pen and paper by your side?

Well, here is my suggestion:

Read moreCatching Those Fleeting Bed and Bathroom Ideas

Using Diigo to Collect, Highlight, Annotate, and Share Web Pages – Part 1

diigo-sticky-notes-RememberEverythingOrgWhether you are writing a paper or article, planning a holiday, or checking house prices for your move to a new city, you are likely going to do an internet search using Google, Bing, or Yahoo, and then browse the search results yielding numerous web pages and forum discussions. Many of the pages contain some valuable information you will want to collect. While reading a page, you might come across important passages you want to highlight or annotate to capture your ideas related to that information.
Consequently, during the course of your internet research, you are likely going to have visited anywhere between 5 and 100 different web sites.

No matter for what project you are doing your web research, you are going to face similar questions as to how to manage all this information:

Read moreUsing Diigo to Collect, Highlight, Annotate, and Share Web Pages – Part 1

My Five Favorite Tools to Learn Chinese Characters

Learn-Chinese-Characters-zhongwenI have been learning Chinese on and off since 2001. To this day, I am still intrigued by Chinese writing, and I highly recommend learning Chinese characters to anyone who wants to stay in China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan for any prolonged period of time. Even if you don’t intend to live in China, learning Chinese can be incredibly beneficial:

  1. You get to understand what Chinese people talk and write about.
  2. You are learning a writing system which gives you access to a huge “hidden” world of literature and web information. For most Westerners, this is the real hidden web.
  3. Chinese writing is the only pictographic writing system still in widespread use. By starting to learn how to write in Chinese, you embark on a fascinating learning journey.

On my journey, I have so far probably learned around 1500 characters, most of them in the simplified form which is used in mainland China (since the mid 1950s) and Singapore. A recent visit to Taiwan once again showed me the beauty and usefulness of traditional Chinese writing. Traditional characters are used in Hong Kong, Taiwan, most overseas Chinese communities, and of course, classical Chinese literature. I have since made the resolution to learn at least the 2000 most frequently used traditional Chinese characters as well.

Here are my 5 favorite tools accompanying me on this journey. Most of these resources can be used whether you want to learn the simplified or the traditional form:

Read moreMy Five Favorite Tools to Learn Chinese Characters

Use Timeboxing to Stop Procrastinating and Get Things Done

Use timeboxing to boost your productivity and stop procrastinating

Most of us have a tendency to put off work we don’t like very much, or work so daunting that we cannot see how we can ever finish it.

Do you postpone work because you don’t know where to start or how to finish it?

When I was a child, we had a large garden, and if it wasn’t winter, I regularly had to attend to it and pick weeds. To me, the vegetable patches appeared to be huge. I just could not see an end to my work. And actually, there was no end to it!
My concept of time was very different from my parents’.

I became increasingly frustrated and started killing time by engaging in dirt throwing competitions with my brother. Sometimes we spend more time procrastinating than working.

This is a pity, because our productivity could have been much higher. Instead of wasting time, we could have gone for a swim or played football with our friends. We lacked structure and possibly some rewards.

If you too are procrastinating because the task at hand is too complex or time consuming, you need to break it into consumable pieces and structure it.

I know, this is easier said than done, but here is what you can do…

Spend a few minutes to reflect on what you can do to move your task forward. Ask yourself, “What are the very next action steps I have to take to move this forward?”
Note down these steps, perhaps three or four, and then get going:

Timeboxing to the Rescue

Read moreUse Timeboxing to Stop Procrastinating and Get Things Done

Effective Note Taking and Outlining with OneNote


OneNote-Outline-Note-taking-RememberEverythingOneNote is part of Microsoft’s office suite, and an extremely versatile note taking and outlining application. It allows you to create rich notes which may include text, tables, formulas (OneNote 2010), tags, images, audio, and video recordings. You take your notes on pages in a OneNote notebook – and your notes can be anywhere on a page as on a sheet of paper. The pages in your notebook can be organized in section groups and sections. You can tag items (sentences, images, paragraphs etc.) in your notes to label them as questions, comments, to-do items, ideas etc.

Two popular ways to take notes in OneNote:

  1. Annotating documents: You can cut and paste, print, scan, or photograph almost any document to OneNote and then highlight it and take margin notes (or notes anywhere else in the document).
  2. Outline note taking: You can use OneNote as a folding outlining application (Outliner) and create collapsible hierarchical summaries.

Read moreEffective Note Taking and Outlining with OneNote

Khan Academy: World Class Online Education for Anyone Anywhere in Bite-Size Videos

About a year ago, I was browsing the web in search of good information about the human neuron. I needed to refresh what I must have learned in my biology class many years ago and stumbled across a YouTube video called “The Anatomy of a Neuron”. The video was done in a very simple style: Basically, you heard a voice explaining the anatomy, and an invisible hand was drawing a neuron with all its parts on a blackboard. The teacher himself was nowhere to be seen. Despite its “low-tech” approach, the video was incredibly effective, and I really liked the guy’s voice.  The whole recording was only about 6 minutes long, but after watching it, I had a very clear picture of the different parts, and how everything worked.

I thought, maybe that guy has done more than this one.

Read moreKhan Academy: World Class Online Education for Anyone Anywhere in Bite-Size Videos


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