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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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Featured photo credit: Jo Szczepanska via unsplash.com