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How to Use Sticky Notes for More Productive Reading And Learning

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How to Use Sticky Notes for More Productive Reading And Learning

In a world where productivity software reigns supreme, there is a humble stationery that is still thriving as an effective tool for enhancing reading and learning skills — sticky notes.

While software companies have attempted to digitize the sticky note, no app has proven to be more popular than the original small square piece of paper.

Why are stick notes still one of the most effective tools to get things done? And how to use them the smart way to be more productive?

You’ll find out the answer in this article.

Benefits of Using Sticky Notes

Sticky notes are cost-effective and easy to use. Their design makes them great for highlighting important information as it contrasts against standard documents and books.

A study conducted by Randy Garner at Sam Houston State University which was noted in the Harvard Business Review found that sticky notes were a persuasive instrument in getting people to comply with a request.[1] This was owed to the fact that adding a sticky note with a handwritten message on a file added a personal touch which people responded well to.

The handwritten element of sticky notes adds to its value. As David Allen, creator of the Getting Things Done method, once said,

“The easiest and most ubiquitous way to get stuff out of your head is pen and paper.”

Not only does it impart a more intimate aspect to the communication exchange, but our brains tend to process things better when written by hand compared to typing.[2]

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How to Use Sticky Notes Effectively

While there is no set criteria on how to use sticky notes properly, there are some ways that can help optimize the experience.

For instance, it’s worth taking into account the number of notes you use. Of course, the amount of sticky notes is dependant on the purpose you are using it for, but as a general guideline, the less is better.

The appeal of sticky notes is that they can be an attention-grabbing and persuasive tool for communication. However, if you use more notes than necessary, it can deter the receiver from looking at the message due to the excessiveness.

The same can be applied when using sticky notes for reading and learning. If you have too many sticky notes in your book or on your desk, the amount of information can seem overwhelming. Whatever detail you were hoping to highlight would get lost in the sea of small, square notes.

Another tip for effective use of sticky notes is to ensure you regularly dispose the notes you no longer need. Doing so will safeguard you against accumulated clutter and you’ll also get to revel in the satisfying feeling of peeling off the sticky note and throwing it in the trash can.

How to Use Sticky Notes While Reading and Learning

Sticky notes are a befitting way to absorb information and call attention to important pieces of text. Whether it’s for school, work, or leisure, here are 7 ways to use the notes for maximized reading and learning:

1. Bookmark Pages

The invention of sticky notes came about when Art Fry was was looking for something that could mark pages of his hymnal.[3] The pieces of paper his choir group were using at the time proved to be insufficient as the bits of paper would constantly fall out of the hymnal which caused the group to lose their place.

A sticky note is perfect to use for a bookmark as the adhesive strip keeps the marker in place and doesn’t damage the pages.

If you find that you have to use several bookmarks, it’s worth switching up the positioning of the sticky notes. Sticking them all the same way on several pages can make it difficult to locate the page you want.

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2. Annotate Chunks of Text

Using sticky notes to add thoughts and insights while reading will help improve close reading skills. These skills allow you to tackle difficult texts and assist you in understanding what is being said.

A great ability to possess, it challenges you to think critically and to read above your comfort level.

You can use sticky notes to summarize phrases, paragraphs, or even chapters of a book. Doing so will prevent you from having to write on the pages and having the sticky backing lets you stick the annotation wherever you please. A good tip is to keep to one point per note as it will make revision easier.

3. Color Code Tasks

Color coding tasks and ideas using sticky notes can result in more productive reading and learning as it’s great for organizing your thinking and planning.

Using color allows you to distinguish between information at first glance which is what makes color coding great for highlighting the things that require your attention first.

With the various colors that sticky notes come in now, you can group things based on subject categories, priority, and/or scheduling factors.

Differentiating tasks and keeping similar ones together provides a more efficient way of learning as it removes distraction and enables you to focus on the task at hand.

4. Brainstorm Ideas

Brainstorming is a technique that encourages you to release your mind’s creativity through its free thinking structure. It is a notable method for learning, whether individually or with a group.

It allows you to develop ideas from associated concepts and is a great way to find solutions to problems.

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A popular way for developing ideas in an office environment, brainstorming is also useful for studying.

Dedicate a large surface—such as a wall—and use various colors of sticky notes to group together related ideas. You could even organize your sticky notes like a mind map which is a great method for generating ideas.

5. Practice Foreign Language Vocabulary

A huge part of learning a second language (or third or fourth) is the vocabulary. Because sticky notes are visual and tangible, they can be a great tool for memorizing new words.

How to use sticky notes for practicing vocabulary is to label objects around your house in the language you are trying to learn.

You can start by adding the translations onto the sticky notes, then as you progress, remove them and only write down the word in the foreign language.

You can use also color code based on the categories the items fall in, for example, yellow sticky notes for tableware and blue sticky notes for electronic devices.

6. Create To-Do Lists

Putting together a to-do list is a practical way to get things done. Writing down your tasks can free them from circling around in your head.

To-do lists offer a sense of order, are an effective tool for time management, and act as a reminder for the things you need to accomplish.

Compiling your to-do list with sticky notes is a handy way to enhance your reading and learning skills. You can simply use a sticky note to list out all your tasks for the day and dispose of it once they’re done, or you can dedicate a note to each task and stick them on a larger surface and remove a note once the task is completed.

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There is no set way to use a sticky note to create a to-do list as there are numerous options you can choose from.

7. Plan Projects

Although there is a plethora of project management software available on the market, some people may find that simpler tools can offer more when it comes to productivity and collaboration. Sticky notes can offer this alternative.

An excellent tool for visualization, sticky notes are great for creating Kanban boards, affinity diagrams, flow charts, and storyboards. By sticking the notes onto a conspicuous surface, project teams are able to track progress, and add and remove tasks and ideas accordingly.

Sticky notes are also perfect for planning individual projects. They can be used to create a study plan or a personal Kanban board.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to reading and learning, people have their own habits and develop their own methods to enhance these particular skills.

The beauty of sticky notes is that their ease of use and versatility enables them to cater to any system which is why they are the still highly favored over elaborate apps and fancy software tools.

More Resources About Boosting Productivity

Featured photo credit: Jo Szczepanska via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dinnie Muslihat

Writer, content marketer & productivity enthusiast

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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