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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

Productivity writer at Zenkit

How to Use Sticky Notes for More Productive Reading And Learning

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Last Updated on March 19, 2019

Understand Your Habits to Control Them 100%

Understand Your Habits to Control Them 100%

Everyone has habits, whether they’re good or bad ones!

You started forming habits since a very young age, whether it’s sucking on your thumb as a baby, taking a nap every afternoon after school as a kid, or leaving the lights and tv on when you leave a room.

Or what about the morning coffee that you have to have before your day can start? Without that cup, you’ll be struggling to get your act together, or put your mind to work. And once that coffee kicks in, your engine is suddenly revved up and ready to go!

These behaviors form a part of our everyday routine whether we like it or not. See the power of a habit?

Take a moment and try to list out some of your more prominent habits. Now, decide whether or not these are habits you actually like having!

Unfortunately, we know that not all habits do us good. Thankfully, many of us recognize a need to get rid of the bad habits, or to cultivate new good habits; and that’s how we end up either actively seeking answers through self help books, the internet, advice from friends and family or even hiring counselors and life coaches to steer us in the right direction.

Do these solutions actually work? It’s especially hard to change habits that you’ve had for years and grown so accustomed that you barely realize their existence: constantly taking your phone out to check for notifications; reaching for a packet of chips or slice of cake every night when you turn on the TV… the list goes on.

How Do Habits Form?

So, what is a habit? Before we can take any action to alter those unwanted habits or create new ones, we need to know what a habit really is.

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Your brain has two distinct modes of decision making. To make things simple, we’ll call it System 1 and System 2.

System 1 is an automatic, fast and usually subconscious way of thinking. It is autonomous and efficient, requiring little energy or attention. For example, when you’re driving a car or walking to work, you automatically know how to get there without having to think or refer to any external help. It comes naturally to you.  

System 2 on the other hand, is a conscious, intentional and controlled way of thinking.  It requires energy and effort to sustain attention. For example, it could be researching and weighing different career options, or coming up with a new recipe for dinner.

Both Systems 1 and 2 work together. How it works is that your brain naturally chooses the lazy solution first whenever there is a problem faced, as it tends to try to save energy to avoid overprocessing. If it cannot find a solution using System 1, then it will move over to System 2. It’s how your brain learns and maps patterns together to handle daily decision making.

So, the key path to building any habit, is to go from System 2 to System 1.

The Process of Forming New Habits

Here’s an example–let’s say you want to start learning a new instrument.

In the beginning, your brain would not have formed any patterns or relationships. Everything is new, so to play your first song you would be relying heavily on System 2 — painstakingly thinking through each action and each step.

Now, as you practice, the action is repeated regularly and your brain starts connecting relationships between your actions. Eventually, these connections go from simple pathways into superhighways of relationships.

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In the end, you will perform almost automatically and effortlessly most of the actions that were at first complicated. You’re now using System 1 to play the instrument. This is how all new habits form.

You now have a good idea of what habits are and how they form. But,

before you can start taking control of breaking or forming habits, let me ask you this question: “Do you even know what your habits are?”

Two Types of Habits

There are two types of habits: conscious habits and hidden habits.

Conscious Habits

Conscious habits are habits that are easy to recognize. Usually, they require conscious input for you to keep them up. If you remove that input or attention, the habit would most likely go away. It’s easy to identify these conscious habits and you can quickly review them yourself.

Examples of conscious habits include waking up to an alarm every morning, going for an evening run or workout everyday, or smoking after a meal.

Hidden Habits

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that our brains have already turned into auto-pilot mode. These are much more tricky because we are generally completely unaware of them until some external factor or source reveals it, such as someone pointing out your behavior to you. So, it can be difficult to identify hidden habits just by a general review.

Yet, hidden habits make up majority of our habits! They have become internalized and ingrained into our lifestyle and decision making process, so you almost don’t realize it when a habit is ‘acting up’.  

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How to Identify Your Hidden Habits

There are a wide range of possible hidden habits. To self-identify, you need to direct your attention and zoom in.

For example, to see what types of hidden habits you can reveal, try answering the following questions:

Physical Habits:
  • How do you walk?
  • Do you tend to slouch or sit/stand straight?  
  • How much water do you drink each day?  

Social Habits:

  • Do you make or avoid eye contact with people?
  • Are there actions or gestures you tend to use a lot?
  • What phrases or words do you tend to say a lot?

Energy Habits:

  • What patterns do you follow each night right before bed?
  • What’s your morning wake up routine each day?
  • How often and when do you snack during the day?

Mental Habits (your automatic thought processes):

  • What’s your first gut response when you receive criticism?  
  • What feeling do you get when you see a friend sharing a luxury vacation on Facebook?
  • How do you react to a negative news story?

Productivity Habits:

  • Do you prioritize a set of tasks before starting, or just dive in?
  • How do you judge if a task is more important than another?
  • How often do you check your phone every hour for new notifications? Or email?

If you don’t mind, you can even ask your partner, family member or close friends the same questions about yourself. They may just point out certain things about you that you never realized!

Time to Take Control!

Now that you’ve hopefully identified some of your hidden habits, would you like to know how to get rid of the unwanted ones, so that you need not be tortured by them anymore?

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Don’t let your habits slow you down, or prevent you from achieving your full potential in life! Whether it be your career or personal development, bad habits can hinder your productivity and happiness.

On the contrary, good habits can boost your efficiency, and help you to look, feel and be better.

Applying one of the 7 Cornerstone Skills — Habit, as covered in this article can already make a difference in your life, imagine learning the whole set of skills to live your best life!

If you want to discover ways to control your habits, and many more carefully crafted Cornerstone Skills, start a life-changing journey with us here!

Understanding these concepts will guarantee you’ll find the transformation you need to help you achieve what you’re looking for.

Featured photo credit: Ben O’Sullivan via unsplash.com

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