When Dr. Spencer Silver and his colleague Art Fry created sticky notes, they had no idea how invaluable their invention would be. Yet, decades later, post-it notes continue to help people increase productivity, express themselves, and improve communication. They remain one of the most effective tools to help you get tasks done, and you can also use them to study.

Let’s see some of the benefits of post-it notes

A Sam Houston State University study showed that sticky notes are quite persuasive in getting people to comply with requests. One of the reasons for this was that adding a sticky note to a file added a personal touch, and we all love that.

The handwritten element adds an intimate aspect to sticky notes, letting our brains process things faster than typing. How can we utilize this tool to enhance our reading and learning? Keep reading, and you’ll find out. 

Brainstorming Ideas

You can also use the notes as a mind map when generating ideas for a writing project. Use it to create outlines and write facts and information on each note. Stick each note to corresponding sections of your outlines, and you’ll have it all together in no time.

Using them as Flashcards

Don’t have notecards? Sticky notes are here to save the day. These little notes are great as flashcards. First, you must write out each notecard with answers at the back and questions in front. Next, stick them to your board and quiz yourself to see what you’ve learned. Afterward, stick the notes you passed to one side and the notes you need to work on to the opposite side

For Bookmarking Pages

The idea of sticky notes came to Art Fry when he was looking for something to mark pages of his hymnal. Although his choir group already used paper pieces, those proved insufficient. The adhesive strip doesn’t damage the pages but the marking in place.

Color-Coding Tasks

When your thoughts are organized, your reading and learning skills will improve. Sticky notes can help you with that when you color-code tasks using it. Using various colors allows you easily differentiate information. It is a great way to highlight what needs your attention first. You can use multiple sticky note colors based on priority, subjects, and more.

Practicing Foreign Languages

A significant part of learning a foreign language is vocabulary. As a visual tool, sticky notes can help you memorize new works in a foreign language. For example, you can stick notes with French words to objects in your room. Label them in the language, you’re trying to learn. This is effective in making the language stick.


Why should you go for a sticky note? Simple tools like the post-it note offer you more productivity than any software could. It is excellent for visualization and can be useful in creating storyboards, flow cards, and others. It also makes it easy to track project progress and add and remove tasks as necessary.

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The definition of a project in GTD® is any outcome that requires more than 1 next action to achieve. This could be as complex as launching a new product line or repairing a car tire.

This variety in project complexity and size offer leads people to assume that each project has to be managed the same way in their list manager. It doesn’t have to be that way. My advice, simplify where possible.

In this blog post, I describe the method I use to manage less complex projects – repairing a car tire – in Evernote. In this blog post, I describe the method I use to manage less complex projects – repairing a car tire – in Evernote.

Let’s define the simple project

I think of a simple project as one that has all of the factors below:

  1. a single thread of “next” actions (further explained below)
  2. A  number of next actions (somewhere between 2 and 4)
  3. no more than one piece of content (completed action notes or action support material) that I would need to maintain

‘Single thread of next actions’ defined. Let me explain further what I mean by a single thread of next actions. Let’s consider two projects – Project A and Project B.

Project A depicted below, is a project that has more than one thread which means that at any one point in time there could be two next actions in the system. These two next actions are for A1 and A2, or A1 and B3 (if A2 has been completed), and so forth. But Project A is one outcome there is a single outcome defined that requires both C1 and C2 to be completed.

Project B on the other hand has only one next action active at any one point in time. It is also a single project – it has one outcome defined by action C being completed. Project B has what I call, a single thread.

No project file for simple projects

For complex (not simple) projects, I create a project folder with an Evernote notebook. For simple projects, I do not create an extra Evernote notebook – this is just too much complexity for what I need to do. Instead here is what I do.

  • “Single Items” Notebook: I keep one notebook for single next actions that I title “Single Items”.
  • ^Next Action tag: I create the first next action for that project, and give it the appropriate context (e.g. @Calls), and the ^Next Action tag.
  • Remembering thread: In the body of the note, I may document the project outcome and I usually document what would be the next action in the thread. Hence in next action A (from Project B above), I would add: “Next Action: B, C” 

Then as I complete the next action for the project, I can simply refer to the body of the note and remind myself of the project outcome and what I had initially brainstormed the next action to be. I can either complete this next action (if in the right context) or change the tags and title of the note to that of the next action B.

In other words, I am using one Evernote note to track the entire project.

Discussion Question: 

Do you prefer checkboxes to notes as your next action?

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