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Living life with OneNote: Family edition

From storing WiFi passwords to tracking chores, OneNote helps the Devereux family keep in touch and on track. Read on to see how William and his family of seven stay in sync!

I use OneNote to keep track of just about every aspect of my life, from college schedules to personal productivity and interests. My family members are as busy as I am, so we created a shared notebook to help keep track of all seven of us. Here’s a look into my family’s notebook, which recently began to explode with content.

Track critical family information

The Family notebook is shared with my immediate family – my parents, brother, and three sisters – allowing the seven of us to share important information and plans. At first, the notebook was mostly just a place to store a list of WiFi network IDs and passwords where we all could access them.

The notebook evolved to include the make, model, year, and license plate number for each of our vehicles, smartphone upgrade eligibility dates, airline rewards numbers, repair services, and instructions for how to set up email accounts

Organizing the information explosion

Then my parents finally decided to make the full transition from paper note-taking to OneNote, and suddenly, the notebook size increased exponentially with great ideas I’d never even thought of. Now the notebook has sections for chores (complete with checkboxes so my parents can track my siblings’ progress), health records, benefits, tips, rosters for various organizations, and planning for all sorts of trips and vacations.

But one of my favorite new notebook additions has to be the Family Dictionary, which contains everything from inside jokes to favorite movies, TV shows, and songs.

Recipes, groceries and more

Another of the section groups in the Family notebook is a repository for recipes, which we also use to plan the meals for the month and keep track of groceries.

This last part is extremely useful, because it allows everyone in the family to access the grocery list on their smartphone and see what they need to pick up at the store. My family uses a “reverse checkbox” strategy, putting check marks next to the items we need on the grocery list and then unchecking them once the item been added to the cart. This allows us to retain a constant list of items instead of reinventing a new list each time.

And if you’re especially organized, you can even arrange the grocery list based on the location of the items in the store.

Visit the Family Room

There’s a lot going on in the family notebook, but it’s easy to stay on top of all of the changes thanks to the Family Room feature in Windows Phone 8. The Live Tile pinned to my Start screen indicates when a note has been updated or created, and one of the pivots in the Family Room shows a list of the most-recently-updated notes.

It’s amazing to think about how much content my family has shared through OneNote, and the notebook’s size continues to grow at a rapid rate. But with OneNote, it’s easy to keep my family organized.

Tell us what you think

Does your family use OneNote to stay in sync? Let us know in the comments!

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2 comments
  1. Great article William. I hope the passwords have been changed since publishing this article. ;) I love the way your family uses OneNote on a day-to-day basis. I use it for my personal use in similar ways. I use to do grocery shopping with OneNote, but I have not recently due to the fact that there is no way in Windows Phone 8 at this time for an automatic adding of items. I had been going back and forth between OneNote and my calculator, but it became cumbersome. I like the idea of keeping everything checked and then unchecking the items as you get them. Never thought of that before. I have also used OneNote for recipes though I think it would be great if there was a way to be able to import recipes between OneNote and Bing Food and Drink on Windows 8.1 and vice versa. Thanks for the great ideas and I hope to use some of them in my OneNote notebooks in the near future.

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