Advertising
Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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 who specializes in keeping people productive.

5 Techniques to Tackle a Busy Schedule (And Create More Time) How to Improve Concentration and Sharpen Your Attention at Work 7 Strategies to Increase Productivity in the Workplace How to Be Productive at Work: 9 Ground Rules How to Use Sticky Notes for More Productive Reading And Learning

Trending in Smartcut

1 How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch 2 How to Make Going Back to School at 30 Possible (And Meaningful) 3 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 4 30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work 5 How to Set Short Term Goals for a Successful and Highly Fulfilling Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

Advertising

Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

Advertising

One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

Advertising

But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

Advertising

It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next