Capturing One’s "Stream of Consciousness" in OneNote

Much of the time on the PC is spent rapidly moving from one task to another so quickly that it can be a challenge to keep context of all the projects, web sites, files, thoughts, etc one’s been working with throughout the day.  It’s the bane of all PC users to some extent.  We’re frequently waiting on stuff to load and it’ just so easy to switch between email, browsing the web, programming, etc.  The cost of multi-tasking is painfully high, partially due to the loss of context when switching tasks.

For about a year now I’ve been using a Microsoft OneNote (part of Office, like a personal wiki notepad) page I call “Stream of Consciousness” to jot down tidbits, like keeping a journal.  Using AutoHotKey, I’ve got a global system hotkey assigned to the specific OneNote page so it’s quick to popup anytime.  Some the tidbits I’ll log during the day…

  • quotes
  • thoughts
  • todo tasks
  • project notes
  • websites of interest
  • file & directory paths
  • new vocabulary words
  • links to other OneNote pages
  • points to discuss with colleagues

OneNote, Stream of Conciousness 2

To create a global system hotkey to the page, install AutoHotKey, right-click in OneNote (it can be on a notebook, page, or paragraph), copy a Hyperlink, and add a line to your hot key file that loads on startup, like this:

; Open OneNote 'Stream of Consciousness' with Win-Shift-S
#+s:: Run "onenote:///\\NOAHC-CTX\DriveC\Noah\Data\OneNote\General\§ion-id={7AAFFB9C-251D-49AC-B0B6-F101916491F8}&page-id={D6A6C28E-A31E-4E6F-9D04-0A246C4C144E}&end"

OneNote also has great searching capabilities, to do list item tracking, fantastic URL linking, and other useful features for journalling.  I find most often I’m using the notes I record for today +/- 2 days, for example, what didn’t finish yesterday, what needs to happen today, what I’ll do tomorrow.  But it is also interesting to go back and look at what I was working on and thinking over time.

You don’t need OneNote, there are other options too, like using a Microsoft Word document, text file, or even a Google Doc.  The advantage of a Google Doc is that it’s always available online.

Hop on here:

Google Docs Stream of Consciousness

Discussion Question
(leave a comment)
How do you manage keeping track of context when multi-tasking?
Comments (2)

  1. I’ve grown to keep notes in Mail on my Mac.  It has the advantage of being available on all my computers without any necessary syncing as well as my iPod (touch).  Since I always have mail open on my computer at all times, this has become a convenient method for notes.

  2. Jeff says:

    I started keeping notes like this in OneNote (after years of using text file notations) and ended up turning to Tiddlywiki.  For me, I like Tiddlywiki much better because it feels lightweight & easy to synchronize to various machines.  Only problem I’ve come across it is that updates only save when loading the pages within Firefox.  There are also templates out there to help facilitate the GTD "mantra". Do a google search for "gtd tiddlywiki" – there are some pretty detailed templates out there.