How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

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AVBucks4239
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How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby AVBucks4239 » Sun Aug 21, 2011 2:56 pm

Disclaimer: I am just beginning my 1L, but I am extremely familiar with both OneNote and Outlook. I used them religiously through undergrad and throughout my last year of working. I have read the super-advanced thread on OneNote (http://top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=127496), but as the author admits, it is a bit overkill (if you want advanced tips, read that thread). This thread is about setting up your Outlook and OneNote in the most efficient manners possible. Xeoh had some great screenshots of how he organized his notebook, but those seem to be lost from the link in the "Collected Wisdom" thread (I copied his setup). Also, I have yet to see any threads concerning Microsoft Outlook. I have read almost every thread linked in the "Collected Wisdom" thread, and most of the advice relates in one way or another to being efficient and/or organized. As an incoming 1L, I'm not preaching how to succeed in your first year, but just thought it would be a good idea to create a condensed thread about the basics of OneNote and Outlook to maximize organization and efficiency.

General Points
The great thing about both of these programs is that they save with every keystroke. You don't have to worry about saving work. Type your notes in class, turn your computer off, and it will be there when you turn it back on.

These tips are for the 2010 version of both programs. If you have 2007, it should still work.

Outlook may not have come in your Student Version of Windows. If this is the case, you can maybe get a discounted copy from your library, or you can download it for $130. I think it's one of the best tools out there, so it's well worth it. I tried other organizing programs and they were inferior beyond imagination. Consider this a three year supplement.

Outlook

Entering Your Schedule
The first thing you should do in Outlook is to enter your class schedule. At the beginning of the semester, it serves as a good reminder to your schedule. More importantly, it will help you visualize the free time you have between classes (which, from what I understand, goes wasted by far too many students).

Before you create an "Appointment" (Class), you should also define your parameters for your schedule. I am a night owl, so my days begin at 10:00 and end at midnight. I also have Saturday blocked off because I am addicted to college football and know I will rarely get anything done. To do this, click the "Arrange" button under the Home Tab. Note, you can also pick your first day of the week here. I think it's useful to have Monday as the first day of the week, but it's a personal choice. Go to Calendar --> Week View --> Double click on the approximate time your class starts. An "appointment window" will pop up. Enter the class, the room number, the start time, and end time. Also be sure to click "Recurrence" and edit accordingly.

The next step is to create categories for each class. There is a "Categorize" button in the appointment window that takes you to the default categories created by Outlook. Simply rename them according to your class schedule and color-code them for visualization purposes. You should also create a "Home" category for household tasks (laundry, etc.) and a "General Study" category with a neutral color (more on this later).Once your class schedule is entered, it should look something like this:
--ImageRemoved-- (LinkRemoved)

Class Assignments
The next thing to do is to create tasks that correspond to your assignments. Always "show tasks" in the view options. This is the blue-shaded area at the bottom of my screen in the above photo. I always put what is due that day. For example, even though I will read Property before Wednesday, I have it on Wednesday to avoid confusion. It takes probably 5 minutes per week to enter your reading assignments into Outlook, and that's a lot better than constantly shuffling through your syllabi. To create a task, simply double click the task area for the date you want to make a task, enter it, and then right click and categorize it. Once you have done this, your calendar now should look something like this:
--ImageRemoved-- (LinkRemoved)

Entering these assignments will also allow you to print a "Task List." This will create a well-organized list of your things to do sorted however you want. I choose to sort by category, since you would know, for instance, that the first task under Property will be due your first lecture, and the second will be due the second. To do this, click the little checkbox on the bottom left corner. Organize task list however you wish, print, and print with "table view." It will look something like this:
--ImageRemoved-- (LinkRemoved)

Your Study Schedule
This is more of an advanced step and may not be necessary for all, but I like to have visualization for what I'm planning on doing during the week. You can utilize more than one category per appointment, and this is why I created a "General Study" Category. To create a "Study Appointment," create an appointment at the approximate time you plan on studying, place your assignment in the "Location" field, categorize the CLASS FIRST, then categorize it as your "General Study" SECOND. Whatever the last category you categorize is the color it will appear in Outlook. So, if you categorize Torts, then General Study, the General Study color will be the main color and the Torts color will appear as a small block in the bottom right corner. This will create a great visual for how you plan to approach the week. All of the time I have set are currently for read and review (first week of 1L). This will obviously progress throughout the semester when periodic review, outlining, and exam practice come into play. Please note that the study times I have aren't exact for what I will be working (for instance, I'm not going to review for 1:30 before every class in the morning like the schedule states, but it looks better visually than when you condense it to a half hour and it serves as a reminder to review before lecture). During my first few weeks, I will be monitoring how much time I spend for each class and adjust the schedule accordingly. My premature 1L study plan looks as follows:
--ImageRemoved-- (LinkRemoved)

As you can see, you can do even 3 or 4 categories for an appointment (see CivPro/Property Review on Wednesday). But, it is important to remember to select your General Study category last.

Syncing your Email
Syncing your email to Outlook isn't necessary, but it's a nice step. You'll always be logged in and a soft "ding" will go off whenever you get anything new. You won't have to check your email over and over, you'll know when you have something new. Go to control panel --> search "mail" --> Click Mail 32-bit --> Set up Email Accounts. You can also sync more than one email if necessary. Another good feature is that you can categorize your emails just like the appointments/tasks.

Other Important Features
1) You can "Flag" your tasks in terms of importance.
2) If you want a more detailed look at your calendar, go to view, time scale, change time scale. The first two screenshots are the 30 minute view, while the last is the hour view. I personally like the hour view because I can visualize the entire day.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some stuff, but these are the basics that will help you stay organized in Outlook.

OneNote

As stated earlier, there is a really good, advanced thread already on OneNote here: http://www.onenotehelp.com/2010/04/06/h ... n-onenote/

However, I think the way the user categorized his Notebook makes things a little harder than they should be for a beginning user. It's a matter of taste, so the ultimate decision is up to you.

The Hierarchy of OneNote
The first thing you must understand about OneNote is the "hierarchy" of how the notebooks, section groups, sections, subsections, and pages work. What I have described is the hierarchy, but a video is here: http://www.onenotehelp.com/2010/04/06/h ... n-onenote/ . After playing around with several different setups, I eventually copied Xeoh's format and find it superior to others for its ease of use:

Notebook: Semester
Section Group: Classes
Sections: Lecture Notes, Case Briefs, Supplement Notes, Outline
Pages: Chapters/Cases

This is the most basic way to set it up. You will always be one click away from any section and won't have to scroll through endless tabs. You could set up a notebook for each class, but after 2-3 years I think your left tab would be too crowded. Thus, you might as well start organizing by semester now.

To create this setup, right-click on the Notebook area, "New Notebook." Title it after your semester. Then create "New Section Group" for each class. Then create the Sections by titling the tabs as necessary (Notes, Briefs, etc.). Create your pages as the class goes along. It should look something like this:
--ImageRemoved-- (LinkRemoved)

The title of the pages vary by the section you're in:
Notes: Chapter One, Chapter Two, Etc.
Case Briefs: Name of Cases
Supplement Notes: Topic (i.e. "Mutual Assent," "Consideration," etc.)
Outline: this is a single document that will be constantly evolving. No need for separate pages.

Also, if you wish, you can create "sub-pages" under the pages themselves. I know one other classmate who is creating subpages for each brief instead of having a section for briefs. It's up to you.

Linking
This is a great feature in OneNote. You will be able to access any page with one click by doing this. It is especially helpful for your lecture notes. Whenever you want to link something in your notes, just right-click, link, then find your link and then you can take notes under that case and go to the brief when necessary. It is incredibly helpful to do this before class. We started Contracts during orientation, and while others were flipping through briefs and notes, I was only one click away from getting where I needed to. Your notes will look like this:
--ImageRemoved-- (LinkRemoved)

Customizing Your Quick Access Toolbar
This is something the advanced thread didn't touch on, but I think it's incredibly useful. Your Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) is a bar on the top of the screen for features that you use all the time (i.e. font, bold, paragraph setup, etc.). The OneNote default QAT is pretty useless for a law school student. Thus, click on the QAT, and go to "Customize QAT." Then add whatever you feel necessary--the customization features of this tab are endless. For example, my QAT contains paragraph format, font size, highlighter, bold/italic, underline, a flagging button (so I don't have to go to insert tab), bullet tab, and number tab for organization. This makes notetaking quick and easy without shuffling through the various Microsoft headings (Home, Insert, Share, Draw, Review, View). If you look at the previous screenshot, my QAT is directly above my sections (Notes, Briefs, etc.).

Setting up "Customizing Numbering" Box
This is probably the most useful feature of taking notes in OneNote compared to taking notes in Word. The various casebooks you will be using have different headings. Some use an order such as (A), (1) (i), (a). Some will use (I), (A), (1). It's important and useful to keep your notes organized according to your casebook. By having the Customizing Numbering Tab open, adjusting the notes according to your casebook is always one click away.

You will notice that this tab is open on the far right of my screenshots. Click your "bulleting" or "numbering" button and go to the bottom and select "Customize Tabs." Always keep this open. Adjust the headings as you go as necessary. OneNote will remember how you have the numbering structure set up for each subsection. This keeps things organized to your casebook for each class, which from what I read, is invaluable come outlining/exam preparation time.

Creating a Brief Template
I am well aware of the opinion that briefing is a time-sink and should be averted to pursue other studying activities. However, I have found it useful to make a brief during class. It keeps me engaged in the note-taking and helps me understand the case. This is made easier by having a "Brief Template" for each case brief section. You will have a template so you don't have to enter headings during lecture.

I have the same template created for each briefs section of each course. I create a new page first, then copy-paste the template into the case:
--ImageRemoved-- (LinkRemoved)

Tagging
Tagging is a great feature for notetaking. This is similar to using the different highlighting colors when "book briefing," but it is for your notes. Go to your Tags button, right click on a default tag, and click "Modify Tag." You will be able to adjust font color, highlight color, name of tag, and the symbol. You can see the tags I have chosen for my notes so far:

Most importantly, you will be able to "Find Tags" within your section. By doing this, you will be able to see everywhere that you have a "Rule" tag or "Definition" tag within your Contracts Section. This will make outlining infinitely easier. Simply click on a tag, click "Find Tags" and a dock will come up with everywhere that you have that tag. See below:
--ImageRemoved-- (LinkRemoved)


Syncing with Outlook
Building on Tagging is the syncing feature with Outlook. You will see under "Home," there is an Outlook Section. If you cover something in lecture and know you will need to go over it, click the Outlook Tags button and it will create a task in your Outlook. Now you will have a reminder in your note that the rule/topic was important, and you will have a reminder in Outlook to review that material.

For example, see below that I have flagged "WJF" to review for tomorrow and how it comes up in my Outlook:
--ImageRemoved-- (LinkRemoved)
--ImageRemoved-- (LinkRemoved)

Other Advanced Features
I know half of what inchoate_con knows. See his thread: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=127496

The features I have described for OneNote are the basics that will get you off to a great organizational start.

Summary
If you operate on Windows, these programs are invaluable. Being organized and being efficient are characteristics, among others, that the legends of this board, Arrow, MegaTTTron, Xeoh, Talon, etc., have unanimously described as essential to a successful 1L. To summarize their main point (that doesn't do them justice, I know), law school is about learning how to take law school exams and being efficient in every facet of your studying. I believe that these tools will be indispensable for any 1L. I know this advice is elementary for some, but I hope it helps others.

Note: I will be editing this thread every few days to make updates. Please check every so often to look for updates.
-AVB
Last edited by AVBucks4239 on Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:18 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Halie
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby Halie » Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:09 pm

Wow, thank you for making this.

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FeelTheHeat
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby FeelTheHeat » Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:10 pm

I was planning on using my Mac for all my notes, but after checking this out I may consider running Windows.

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BackToTheOldHouse
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby BackToTheOldHouse » Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:11 pm

Thanks for contributing!

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weber35
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby weber35 » Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:15 pm

Great article.. Thanks.

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AVBucks4239
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby AVBucks4239 » Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:45 pm

Thanks for the positive feedback.

Edited to show how to utilize "Task List."

313D313
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby 313D313 » Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:05 pm

thanks

seems helpful

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skw
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby skw » Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:17 pm

This is very helpful. TY so much for taking time to post it.

jodubs
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby jodubs » Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:29 pm

Thanks! Way better than the shitty setup I had going.

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AVBucks4239
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby AVBucks4239 » Mon Aug 22, 2011 12:26 am

Edited to update more details about "Page" organization (see section under "One Note Hieararchy").

Sandro
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby Sandro » Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:02 am

Thank you so much. I've been wanting to optimize my outlook/onenote before I got too much info in there that it would be a complete pain to translate to a new setup.

ClutchCity24
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby ClutchCity24 » Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:02 am

Thanks for making this

chenalex
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby chenalex » Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:30 am

This has been very helpful. Thanks.

spets
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby spets » Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:23 pm

Great post, thanks :)

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AVBucks4239
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby AVBucks4239 » Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:56 pm

Edited to add more features about "Tagging."

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AVBucks4239
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby AVBucks4239 » Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:17 pm

Important!
I forgot to add one of the basic principles of building your schedule. You must hit the "recurrence" button in the appointment window and schedule it accordingly.

trudat15
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby trudat15 » Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:56 pm

Awesome thread! Thanks so much for the guidelines. One Note is much more powerful than I thought.

Was wondering about the calendar in outlook. Is it possible to set it up so that it syncs with your phone? Or do you just keep outlook open indefinitely? I tried to sync it, but have no clue what I'm doing apparently, because nothing shows up.

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kjadkins
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby kjadkins » Tue Aug 23, 2011 12:33 pm

Thanks so much for this! Tagging for use next week when I start classes, I know this is going to be super helpful (especially since I've never used OneNote)

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AVBucks4239
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby AVBucks4239 » Tue Aug 23, 2011 5:50 pm

trudat15 wrote:Awesome thread! Thanks so much for the guidelines. One Note is much more powerful than I thought.

Was wondering about the calendar in outlook. Is it possible to set it up so that it syncs with your phone? Or do you just keep outlook open indefinitely? I tried to sync it, but have no clue what I'm doing apparently, because nothing shows up.

To be honest, I don't sync anything from my computer to my phone so I don't know. I tried doing a google search but couldn't find anything.

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AVBucks4239
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby AVBucks4239 » Tue Aug 23, 2011 5:50 pm

trudat15 wrote:Awesome thread! Thanks so much for the guidelines. One Note is much more powerful than I thought.

Was wondering about the calendar in outlook. Is it possible to set it up so that it syncs with your phone? Or do you just keep outlook open indefinitely? I tried to sync it, but have no clue what I'm doing apparently, because nothing shows up.

To be honest, I don't sync anything from my computer to my phone so I don't know. I tried doing a google search but couldn't find anything.

Sandro
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby Sandro » Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:01 pm

You can sync to your phone if your phone supports the google calendar. Just link your outlook to the same gmail address you have your phone's calendar linked to. Pretty sweet as you can see all your classes/tasks/to do lists right on your phone's home screen.

bruinrandy
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby bruinrandy » Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:55 pm

OP: Do you know how/if it is possible to sync one notes/outlook across two computers

random5483
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby random5483 » Sun Aug 28, 2011 5:05 am

bruinrandy wrote:OP: Do you know how/if it is possible to sync one notes/outlook across two computers



OneNote 2010 has a sync over web feature. However, if you create a dropbox account it is very simple to sync OneNote over multiple computers. Set up a dropbox account, create a OneNote notebook located in your dropbox folder (on your computer). Install dropbox on your second computer. Open the OneNote notebook on the second computer. That is what I do for syncing between desktop and laptop for OneNote.

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GoldenGloves
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby GoldenGloves » Sun Aug 28, 2011 9:46 am

This is excellent. Thank you.

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AVBucks4239
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Re: How To Use Outlook and OneNote to Organize Your 1L

Postby AVBucks4239 » Sun Aug 28, 2011 3:32 pm

random5483 wrote:
bruinrandy wrote:OP: Do you know how/if it is possible to sync one notes/outlook across two computers



OneNote 2010 has a sync over web feature. However, if you create a dropbox account it is very simple to sync OneNote over multiple computers. Set up a dropbox account, create a OneNote notebook located in your dropbox folder (on your computer). Install dropbox on your second computer. Open the OneNote notebook on the second computer. That is what I do for syncing between desktop and laptop for OneNote.

This. Go to File --> Share and you should be able to figure it out from there.




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