3 quick ways to create stickier Post-It Notes

 
 

Introduction

I love Post-It Notes for their versatility, size, colour range and ability to convey information succinctly. However, I see a number of Post it notes in my current work that I can’t always immediately understand. Perhaps they fall off a wall and they lose context, the handwriting might be a little difficult to read or there’s too much content packed on one tiny paper square. Pun intended - they don’t quite stick with me.

The good news is that with some practice, there are ways to make Post-It notes visually clearer and stickier for yourself and others.

 
 
Summary 1.jpg

Take a look at the three post it notes above and their implied comments.

  1. A Post-It note is only 7.5cm wide and long. That’s not very much space.

  2. Sharpies and Post-It notes, though not always necessarily linked, are like cookies and cream. They just go well together.

  3. Single ideas on a Post its work because (see point 1) - a Post-It note isn’t very big.

This segues into the first lesson for today.

  1. Be succinct and pay attention to spacing and content

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In these three Post-Its above, the number of words on a post it from left to right are 10, 18 and 25 words. Notice the difference between the three versions around how cramped (or un-cramped) it looks to your eye.

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I personally wouldn’t be venturing into the 8 line territory.

If I was aiming for what I think fits nicely on a regular Post-It, it would be as single sentence between 7-13 words.

Layout 2.jpg

These examples above integrate some illustrations along with the text. Note the placement of shapes as a layout ‘grid’ that exists behind the content as shown below.

Layout 1.jpg

2. Use sharpies and try to be neat

Where possible, try and use sharpies to write on Post-Its. What may seem like a trivial detail, actually has an impact on the way in which you approach putting pen to paper.

Fact 1.jpg

Functionally speaking, the Post-Its above can be understood, even if the handwriting might err towards ‘messy’ rather than ‘neat. The question to ask yourself however is - “Will I remember or pay attention to what I have just seen?”

Fact 2.jpg

For some, the cosmetic improvements above might feel marginal, but for others, this may be the added attention to detail that can create more stickiness.

Additional points include:

  • Introduction of a second colour to provide more contrast

  • Shortening and lengthening content in the name of clarity.

3. Codify your content

Insight 1.jpg

I see some researchers aiming to preserve the authenticity and context of a quote or insight by cramming as much as they can onto a single Post-It. My challenge is - There are better ways of doing this.

Codifying content is one way to get around the need to put everything on a Post-It. By creating themes and tags, content can be indexed, themed and linked. You can do this by:

  1. The colour of the Post-It you choose

  2. Logos in the corner of the Post-It to signify theme

  3. Additional codified elements to trace back to research participants

Conclusion

Post-It notes are one of the great inventions in my lifetime, and I think its uses are so wide, varied and wonderful.

Recognising that the format has its limitations is important. It’s not an A4 piece of paper, and neither is it a cell in an Excel spreadsheet. When you have more awareness of how to take advantage of these limitations is key to creating Post-It notes that stick a little bit longer in people’s minds.

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