Death by Sticky Note
Photo by Min An from Pexels

Death by Sticky Note

The first post-it note or “Sticky Note” hit stores in 1980. Throughout the technology revolution, many tools changed for organization except for the wondrous yellow square. Not only that, yellow turned to red, green, blue, pink, and any other color marketing thought would interest the end consumer. That poses the great question: Why do individuals still use sticky notes? We use computers for scheduling our lives, meetings, and events. Many individuals utilize virtual note pads verse the legal pads of the day. Even though we are hear to understand the issues of using sticky notes, no one can deny the quick ease of grabbing the yellow pad to jot down quick information. Today, we are going to focus on long term use of sticky notes and how they affect business negatively.


As stated above, getting a phone call and having to write a quick note creates the situation for our Post-It Note hero! Write, pull, and stick! However, we must stop here and wonder these questions: How much can we really write, how many of these squares are we going to pull, and how long will they stick before being lost in the black hole known as the office drawer. First let us tackle the how much can we write question. We all know that individual which sheets of paper covered in 15 sticky notes. If you have not, it looks something like the picture above. A darky scary place where no one is really sure what is trying to be communicated. The average sticky note size is 3X3 inches. With such little space, there is no way to get major information on a sticky note.


Next, let us talk about how many sticky notes are out there to pull. 3M, the original creator of the Post-It note produces a total of 50 Billion sticky notes annually. Quite a large number and this does not describe amount per individual used by any means. What it does say is there are 50 billion notes in the world a year that hold potentially important information. Imagine trying to keep track of 50 billion sticky notes. Let us think smaller for a moment, 100 sticky notes. Over the year, an individual used around 100 sticky notes with important information and managed to escape with keeping track of 95 of them. Where is Mike’s number though? What was the requirements the state needed for that product? Who did I need to call on Monday? These questions have answers and they are hiding under a deck.


That brings us to the last question of, how long will a sticky note stick. Similar to car, the moment they leave the pad, the car or post it is less valuable. Dust, oil, and other reapplication diminish the usefulness of the sticky note. Often within days, sticky notes begin to lose their ability hold and with that, they lose their ability to stay in place. At this point, the message may be clear that sticky notes win for most useful short term note taking system but lack the characteristics for long term use. With this in mind, what can we do avoid using the sticky note?

I will share with you the tools and tricks I have used over the last years to aid in my avoidance of sticky notes or any pad that might be lost:

Evernote: This is a great cloud service that connects all devices together through their cloud service. Even if the original note is on a sticky note, this tool allows for pictures, written, or verbal note taking. It can be placed on a phone, computer, and tablet. Great tool for starters.
Google Keep and Notes on IOS: Both of these tools are already equipped on their respective devices. Both tools have similar options to Evernote. Both also have cloud service.

Don’t buy Post-it notes: When I have notes around me, I will find a reason to use them. Go cold turkey and avoid having them near you. This helped me the most because it required my time in finding a reusable and organizational cure.

Go to large pads: Grab a large legal pad. Write all the notes down throughout the day and go back to insert them into some sort of electrical note taking system or organized paper system. As long as searching through the information is easy, it works.

These are some small suggestions that helped me. If you have any ideas on how to stay organized or disagree with the premise of avoiding sticky notes, please post in the comments!

Anthony Smith
Management Consultant
Helping Managers assist their employees in finding their why, creating a path to achieve that why, and keeping them on that path.

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