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Last Updated on March 7, 2019

How to Use Sticky Notes for More Productive Reading And Learning

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 January 21, 2020

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

Can I Be Creative?

The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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How Creativity Works

Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

What Really Is Creativity?

Creativity Needs an Intention

Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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Creativity Is a Skill

At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

Start Connecting the Dots

Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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