A new way of using OneNote to keep myself from looking silly

    As I've mentioned before, one of the techniques I employ with Outlook is a rule to delay all my outgoing mail by 2 minutes. It keeps me from sending mail too soon - for instance, if I misspell my own name and don't notice it until I press Send, I have a chance to stop the send and fix the error before anyone else can see it.

    I'm going to take this one step further for the next few weeks. This article was in the Sunday edition of the Seattle Times, and this excerpt caught my eye:

    " I advise my clients to take the time to write any important e-mails in a word-processing program where they will not be tempted to hit the "send" button in a fit of emotion. "

    Pasted from <http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2008719926_skube08.html>

    This seems like a reasonable idea to me. Since you can email OneNote pages very easily, I decided I'll start doing this myself to get better "coverage" of the area. I typically prefer shortcut keys over menus, so I'll probably make liberal use of CTRL+SHIFT+E to open an email item instead of using the menu commands.

    There are a few options I can set for how the email item is created, too. They are in Tools | Options | Sending email:


    They are pretty self explanatory and I will work through the different permutations over time.

    Going with the dogfood philosophy around here, I guess I need to admit I doubt I'll find any functional bugs with this. It's a pretty stable feature and I'm not really expecting to get any errors. What I will get is a different sense of using OneNote and a different viewpoint of tying OneNote and Outlook together. One of the things I've learned is that this will have some sort of a payoff in the future - it's just really hard to predict what that payoff will be. A new point of view to inject during a design meeting, a new test case related to performance or some other change may result from this experience over the next few weeks.

    This completely misses the point of the author, though. Her point was that by using a "formal looking" word processor, I would get my mind into a more formal communication mode. OneNote is not designed to be a rich presentation application - we're all about quickly getting information together and stored. I may still make mistakes with the formatting and miss the benefits Daneen Skube stresses. We'll see.

    I'll keep in touch about this.

    Questions, comments, concerns and criticisms always welcome,


Comments (5)

  1. Seth says:

    I’ve been using your two-minute delay because several times, I have accidentally hit ctrl-enter, which in Outlook is a keystroke for "immediately send the message without any confirmation."  

    In other MS programs, ctrl-enter is some form of insert (in onenote it inserts a row in a table and in Word, it inserts a page break).  It is a minor defect in MS user-interface consistency.

    Another thing: I tried a one-minute delay and got unsatisfactory results.  Turns out it isn’t a true "one-minute delay."  It is actaully a delay "until the next minute starts".  So sometimes you get a full minute, sometimes you get 5 seconds, depending on the time you sent it within that minute. The two minute delay at least always gives you one full minute before a send.

    Any suggestions on how to implement an occasional override to the two minute delay?  Sometimes I want to send something two weeks from now, it gets overridden by the rule.  Sometimes I want to send something without a delay at all (if I’m on the phone and want to send something as part of the discussion).

  2. John says:

    Hi Seth,

    The first time you press CTRL+ENTER in Outlook, you should have gotten a prompt to let you know that this can be used to send mail.  To turn it off at this point, click Tools | Options | Email Options | Advanced Email Options.  The bottom most checkbox will disabled CTRL+ENTER to send.

    I have an exception for my two minute rule – if the mail is high or low priority, it sends immediately.  

    To set an email to send two weeks from now, from the email item open the Options tab, then click the downward arrow to the right og "Tracking."  There is a setting there to send the mail at a given time you specify.

    Admittedly, these options are somewhat hard to find, but it sounds like you could make use of them.

    Hope this helps,


  3. Seth says:

    Thanks, John.  Didn’t mean to turn your blog into an Outlook tips forum!!  I suspect that the box to turn off the ctrl-enter came in a later Outlook version (I’m in 2003).

    On the future date issue, I think I can combine everything you said to get what I want. The problem was, I would set the future date, but then the "two-minute rule" was overwriting it.   But I think if I put in the high-priority exception, I can get around that.  

  4. I don’t know if it was due to my efforts trying to use OneNote to create all my email, but I got this

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