One-Click Wonder: How OneNote helped Stale Hansen build work-life harmony

In this week’s Focus Friday, we speak to Stale Hansen, Founder, CEO and Principal Cloud Architect at CloudWay. Based in Vinterbro, near Oslo, Stale has a dual role. As CEO, his job is to ensure CloudWay stay true to their core mission, whilst as Principal Cloud Architect, Stale’s responsibility is to help the company innovate, and its customers to implement cloud solutions using best practice techniques.

As an international speaker, blogger, YouTuber and author, Stale travels around the world to help people understand Microsoft technology. He has been a Microsoft MVP for the past 8 years, focusing on Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams and Office 365. Stale has a passion for finding new ways technology can help him get stuff done. Far from being a quick-fix, he explains the journey he’s been on to find solutions that work for him, helping him break the habit of constantly checking his phone. He discusses how technology solutions have improved his family life, quality of work, and allowed him to indulge in his favourite hobby – Star Wars!


1. Growing up, what’s the very first gadget or piece of technology you were excited about?

It must be the Commodore 64 that I inherited from my big brother. I distinctly remember being hooked by the ability to immerse myself in technology, improve my skills in a game, and have fun playing with my friends.

2. When was the first-moment technology helped you?

The first-moment I realized technology could help me is slightly unconventional. When I first got access to the internet back in 1997 I found that I was suddenly able to search for more information on my favorite topic, Star Wars… yes, I am a huge Star Wars fan!

3. In your current job, what technology do you find most useful and how do you use it?

OneNote. I use OneNote all day every day at work. It is a way for me to outsource my thoughts, ideas, to-do lists, tasks, meeting notes and whiteboard sessions into one place, a collection section in my main notebook. I write down everything that pops into my head and one of two things happen, I either forget what I’ve written down or I actually remember it even better. I play many roles at work – leader, manager, salesperson, project manager, technology implementer, and troubleshooter – and I need a place where I can find the information I’m looking for at the click of a button. I’ve found that OneNote is the perfect solution. I typically use the mobile app where I can easily save the articles I want to read, as well as my thoughts, ideas and pictures of whiteboards.

Through test-and-learn, I think I have found a great fundamental way to work with OneNote. I’ve shared my experiences and tips at conferences such as Microsoft Ignite, Techmentor and Experts Live and I have even created a YouTube series called OneNote LifeHacks. The typical feedback I get is that my approach is a practical one that anyone can adopt.

4.  What difficulties did you encounter before you had access to this technology?

Before I started using OneNote to its full potential, I had no control over my tasks, thoughts and meeting notes. I forgot great insights and when I did use OneNote, I was unstructured and my notes would get lost. I wanted to see how I could work more effectively with OneNote at the core, so I started looking into productivity theories like the Getting Things Done method, which requires writing down all tasks and projects, and then breaking them down into actionable work items. After adopting this mindset, I found I could really dive into how to configure OneNote to work for me

Second influencer

5.  What does Microsoft technology allow you to do more of?

Get stuff done. I run a company that was created in the cloud and helps customers succeed through the power of cloud technology. Ensuring the people I work with embracing the full potential of the cloud is of huge importance to me. As an example, we use Microsoft Teams to stay up to date on each other’s work and collaborate on projects. Communications tools like Teams and Skype for Business help me save time on commuting as I can do most of my meetings from home. When I do go onsite at customer sites, we have productive workshops and get stuff done.

6. Outside of work, what tech do you love to use and why?

My mobile phone. I mainly use it for watching YouTube and Netflix, which helps me relax and disconnect from my busy work life. I also try to find some good games that I can zone out with. I even got a neck holder for my mobile so that I don’t need to hold it while relaxing. For me, it is not about work-life balance, but work-life harmony. To me, this means making sure I have done the work I need to in order to spend quality time with my family.

7. What piece of tech could you not live without?

My mobile has everything I need – car navigation, an alarm clock, social media to stay in touch with my friends and family, entertainment, and business apps. So it is really hard living without my mobile

8. If you had one piece of advice for people using technology every day, what would it be? Second influencer

Take control of your notifications. It may sound like I am a mobile addict, and I probably am. But I have spent a lot of time controlling the notifications I get across all of my personal and business apps so that I only get notifications when I need them, not for absolutely everything. I am also very picky on Facebook and LinkedIn to make sure I only receive notifications about the people, places and things I am interested in. I carry this mentality through when implementing Microsoft Teams for customers as well I make sure that notifications are on the adoption agenda and that I help our customers use correct Teams and channel designs so that people can control when they get notifications.

In my own life, I have installed an app called OffTime on my mobile, which lets me reduce notifications and block certain apps. I try to use it when spending quality time with my family and on weekends, so that my phone is more a personal device than a business device. On Sunday evening I open my work apps again and start preparing for the week ahead. Of course, it doesn’t always work, and being strict with yourself is something that definitely requires practice.

To control the number of notifications I get, I also have a Fitbit fitness tracker which gives me notifications when someone calls me and when I get a message on messenger apps. Not looking at my phone as much was hard in the beginning, but now I let the mobile stay where it is instead of looking at it every 10 minutes.

9. What technology are you most excited about for the future?

Augmented Reality. I am looking forward to glasses or contact lenses that have augmented reality telling me about the world I live in, what kind of plant I am looking at, the city I live in and the people I am with. It is going to be awesome 😊

To keep up to date with Stale, follow his blog,, YouTube Channel and Twitter profile.

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