Like most people I have what the Buddhists call a monkey mind.
It never stops, it’s easily distracted and constantly flipping between more thought bubbles than I would care to pop.
I often find myself in the middle of something, fully focussed and concentrating when the most random thought will pop into my head: ‘A4 paper’, ‘worm tablets’ (for the dog, not me – good to clarify, even if you’re only clarifying for yourself!), ‘bins out tonight’ etc.
You know those thoughts, right?
WHY I LOVE STICKY NOTES
As I’ve got older, I’ve become less confident that I’ll be able to remember the thought and come back to it later.
I love them.
All of them.
I love the different colours, the sizes, the shapes, the lined ones, the blank ones.
I love the way they catch your attention and can be applied to almost any surface (although the more expensive ones do this better than the cheaper ones).
I love that you can fill an entire wall with thoughts using the same coloured sticky-note to create a group of thoughts.
I love them for brain dumps and quickly jotting down what I’m paranoid will promptly drizzle through my ageing sieve-head.
Not surprisingly, I’ve got a scattering of sticky-notes around the house at the moment to make sure I don’t forget to tell the electrician about little jobs I need him to do.
One says, ‘wall light here’ and another says ‘light switch?’ and another says ‘two-way-switch in garage.’
THE PROBLEM WITH STICKY NOTES
My issue with with these little stacks of goodness however, is that they kind of prolong the process of recording the thought in the right-spot-for-future-reference.
Often, they end up scattered on the desk, accidentally caught in the pile of paper I intend to shred, lost in a jacket pocket, floating in the footwell of the car, behind the pillows on the bed (yep, I found one there the other day), or in the bottom of a handbag when they’ve lost their stickiness.
I have been known to reinforce their stick with a paperclip, or Blu Tack or even sticky tape (when I’ve really not wanted the bright-coloured-bad-boy to move from where I’ve whacked it down).
But the reality is – the information I’m trying to record isn’t being recorded in the right spot.
WHAT HAVE YOU RECORDED?
Take a look at what’s scribbled on sticky-notes around you.
- Tasks you don’t want to forget?
- Reminders of people to call?
- Items for your shopping list?
- Notes from a conversation you had earlier?
- A motivational quote?
- A question you need to ask someone?
Why is this stuff scribbled on small pieces of coloured paper and scattered throughout your space?
I suspect it’s because you’re ‘too busy’, ‘in a rush’, or, here’s the clincher – you haven’t established a process to record it in the right spot.
THE RIGHT SPOT
The right spot isn’t just about filing the thought away; it’s not just about the destination.
The right spot is a process of recording the information in the most reliable location in order for you to take action.
Simply, recording a thought on a blank space doesn’t ensure you deal with the content of the sticky-note.
You need a process and place to elicit action on your part.
MY RIGHT SPOTS
I’m not completely weened off sticky-notes yet, but I have managed to reduce my reliance on them using four main ‘spots’: Microsoft Outlook + my iPhone ‘Reminders’ app + a A4 lined notebook + Airtable.
1. I use Microsoft Outlook for all:
- birthday reminders
- contact details
- tax dates.
2. I use the ‘Reminders’ app on my iPhone for:
- grocery items (added to my ‘Groceries’ list)
- gifts to buy (added to my ‘Gifts’ list)
- IOUs (added to my ‘IOUs’ list)
- plants to buy (added to my ‘Nursery’ list).
3. My A4 lined notebook I mark-up myself to serve two purposes: to create a spot for notes & a spot for to-dos.
For each double-page-spread the left-side page is for ‘Notes’ and the right-side page is my weekly ‘To Do’ list which is further divided into seven sections, one for each day of the week.
The Notes section is my brain-dump place. It’s where I try to jot down information that would otherwise have made its way onto a sticky-note.
- websites I want to look at
- notes from conversations I’ve had
- random thoughts
- motivational quotes
- ideas I have for blog posts etc.
The purpose of the Notes page is that it’s a bit like a holding-pen.
Some of the stuff I record there still needs to be transferred to the right spot.
But for the short term those thoughts are in one spot as opposed to 16 different coloured sticky-notes scattered all over my desk.
The To Do section is where I map out what actions I need to take in the next seven days: calls I need to make, emails I need to send, questions I need to ask, jobs I need to get done.
For me, having my To Do list spread over seven days seems far less overwhelming than having one notebook filled with page after page of tasks I need to complete.
Once the action has been taken I highlight the line item to indicate the task is complete.
Very satisfying indeed!
4. Lastly, Airtable is the platform I use to organise all the thoughts I have for my social media content:
- blog post ideas
- motivational quotes
- case studies I have documented
- testimonials I need to upload.
This means that when I sit down to prepare my social media content I only have to go to Airtable to locate the information I’ve collected.
Sticky-notes are pricey and I know I’ll never eradicate them completely from my life because I do believe they’re handy.
But they perpetually motivate me to be disciplined about where that ‘thought’ really needs to be recorded; where is the right spot.
I’ll wrap up these words of wisdom now so I can go and wash the inked words off the back of my hand that say ‘gas bottle’, because none of us are are perfect, right?