Keeping focused with Admin Templates in OneNote

Guest blog post by Pip Cleaves, Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator.

About a year a go I began working on a OneNote system to organise myself.

I wanted a system that worked on most of my devices, which included: 

  1. Phone (iOS), 
  2. Laptop (Surface Pro and later Surface Book), 
  3. Home laptop (MacBook Pro), 
  4. Department imaged Desktops (Windows 7 and Office 2010), and 
  5. Tablet (iPad Mini). 

I wanted a system that allowed me to create to do lists, and keep up with school day-to-day activities such as my timetable, weekly events etc. 

I had used page templates, and created my own in the past, so decided that I would trial some different set ups and see which worked the best. 

In 2014 I read and was inspired by Peter Bregman’s “18 Minutes to Find your Focus, Master distractions and get things done right”.

I wanted to set up my template using some of these strategies and so I went about implementing some of the book’s recommended strategies. 

After lots of trial and error, below is my ‘Weekly Template’ to keep me focused, organised and inspired.

weekly template, productivity, teaching, classroom

To explain the template here are a few more details about the way I have set it up: 

  • I have a table for each day splitting my tasks into my four major areas for my annual plans and focus areas. I have even included a quadrant for my family because I tend to get lost in work and forget some of the important jobs I need to do as a mother of 3 teenagers. 
  • Each task has a tick box, because I love ticking boxes when a task is done 
  • I have an ‘Urgent’ section that I pop unexpected tasks that really need to be done ASAP 
  • I have a weekend prep box at the top. I tried this at the bottom, but I always felt I was cleaning up after the week rather that preparing for the week ahead. Putting the Weekend box at the top actually focuses my time I spend on preparation over the weekend so that I do not get lost on social media or digging into endless links on the internet. 
  • My timetable. I have a ‘date’ problem and often get things mixed up on my calendar. By having my timetable front and centre of my organisation page I seem to be mixing up my times less. 

I have set the template as the default page in this section. In other words, every time I create a page in this section, the template is applied. 


How to make an admin template:

  1. Set up a page however you like. Place tables, images or whatever you need to get your weekly organisation happening 
  2. Choose ‘Insert’ > ‘Page Templates’ 
  3. Now open the templates column by clicking on the drop down arrow and choose ‘Page Templates’ 
  4. To make your page a template, choose ‘Save current page as a template’ 
  5. To make your template the default for the section you want, choose the drop down in the ‘Always use a specific template’ and choose the name you gave your template above. 
  6. Too easy. 

Now as long as you are in the correct section, no matter what device you are on, the template will be applied. 

So in short, my template can be used from any device, any time, anywhere. It helps me to get organised, stay focused and be productive among the busy world I work in.  

Pip Cleaves is a Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator and originally published this blog at  

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