Using OneNote for Bullet Journaling

There’s a lot of interest in using digital tools for bullet journaling and OneNote is one of the more flexibly designed ones on the market. I thought I’d challenge myself to see if I could apply bullet journal methods to OneNote to organize a project I am working on. Here’s what happened…

Setting the requirements

First, let’s look at the requirements. I decided for this experiment I would use only OneNote on my Android (LG G4) phone and a Bluetooth keyboard. The same results could be obtained without the keyboard, but I found it lent itself to longer and more complete note-taking.

To begin, I created a note for the project as an overall capture point. As I entered text I used a bulleted structure with tabs to create an organizational outline for my notes as I proceeded. The process was simple enough and I was able to capture all the information I needed quickly and efficiently as I moved through the first steps of my effort.

Making decisions on how to manage tasks

When I encountered my first recordable task is also where I hit my first decision point. Should I create a separate list for all the tasks to make them easier to track or should I embed them in the outline I had already been creating? You can make arguments on both sides of the equation, but I decided to go with the one that created the minimum amount of work and rework. By tapping on the To Do icon at the top I was able to create a task right on the bulleted item I was working with and then track it’s execution by tapping on the checkbox when it was complete. Quick and simple.

As my work progressed I did encounter some problems. Since you cannot collapse outlines in Android I wound up with a lot of vertical scrolling to keep track of all the items I had marked for completion. Also because of the odd way OneNote handles the horizontal scrolling of pages I found it wasn’t quite as smooth as I would like when it came to moving around the page.

Reviewing work done and yet to be done

In looking back at my notes today from yesterday, it is very easy to see what was accomplished and what remains to be accomplished. The mechanism works well for recording and tracking items to be done though I do have my doubts about the embedded tasks when it comes to future reference of outstanding items.

The work will continue with OneNote today for reference and tracking and I’ll see if it can hold up to multiple parallel projects without my losing track of any of the information I capture. In the back of my mind I know I always have the web safety valve to access the content, but I’m curious to see just how far I can take the Android only approach for now.