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5 Cheap Ways to Reduce Stress Using Sticky Notes

Updated on October 17, 2018

The Sticky Note is Indispensable to Short Term Goal Making

We make goals for a variety of reasons. Some are meant to help manage time on a daily basis while others help us plan for our future. Long-term goals seem more unattainable than short and often get overlooked, but every journey of a thousand miles begins and ends with one step. Therefore the small deadlines that life throws at us must be faced and we must divide our later goals into manageable sections that are attainable on short term levels. Long term goals help people plan their lives and begin important saving or investing, but without an itemized look at the short term goals that comprise the larger, it is easy to lose track and stray from the plan.

Sticky notes were designed to help people meet these short term goals which are the fundamental building blocks of long term goals. Despite the ridiculously sophisticated electronics we carry, these small pieces of paper (probably scrap ends from a paper mill with a small strip of sometimes-adhesive backing) completely revolutionized the way people managed their errands, plans, reminders, and to-do lists. Many people will swear by the effectiveness of the small, often brightly colored, slips of sticky paper, but only when they are used right.

1. A Call to Action!

For a sticky note to wield its awesome powers, they must be written in a language that gets your attention, and asks you to do it right then. For example: I am waiting for a refund from an online purchase. The website tells me to call at a certain time and gives me the number. It is Sunday so when I make a note of it, the message should look like this-

“Call the Company Name!! - Here’s the number 555-5555”

People are more likely to respond to a message that compels them to act on something. Like a sales pitch that only has a second to relay a message, the sticky note should be to-the-point and stress the importance of immediate action.


2. Location, Location, Location…

In order for a call to action to have any effect on a person, the message has to be in a place where they are easily and often seen. There are predictable spots in everyone’s life where they can put urgent reminders such as by the coffee machine, toothbrush, or newspaper chair. For the more nagging errands that are not life-threatening or requiring immediate attention, there are more ideal locations that are out of the way but still unavoidable.

The idea is to never move them to a spot where they will not be seen. Some great areas where sticky notes will be a helpful reminder are on the refrigerator door (near the handle), on the bathroom mirror, on the dashboard of the car (NOT covering your speedometer, it will not help in your defense of a ticket), and inside the covers of an organizer or daily planner. Try to find unobtrusive spots so that you do not end up looking like the weird sticky-note guy/girl, but do not avoid them. Sticky notes tucked away on the side of the fridge do not help anyone.


3. Dissect Large Goals into Manageable Steps

A huge goal can seem daunting and overwhelming to ever consider, that is why people are so fond of making vague promises such as, "I will buy a new car one day." The goal itself is not unrealistic at all, but not defining the steps that are necessary to achieve the goal will leave many unmet.

One easy trick is to tear off a small block of sticky pad notes, keeping them attached to the glue, and using as many as the goal requires. Like a flip-book, start with the first page and list the steps to meeting the long term goal. When this is complete, tear off the top step, which is also the first step, and put it somewhere we talked about where it will be seen regularly. As you complete a goal, throw the other away and peel off the next step, placing it somewhere effective. This system will keep you in a state of continuous growth and progress, chipping away at the long term goal slowly but surely.

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Keep people in the loop with sticky note billboards
Keep people in the loop with sticky note billboards | Source

4. Sticky Notes to Delegate

Sticky notes can be used to help people in charge stay organized by reminding others of their responsibilities. These tactics are perfect for kids that have to be reminded constantly to do everything. A simple note left on the back of the toilet, Xbox remote, or fridge door will get their attention quickly and effectively. In the following examples, one creates incentive and the other is a call to action.

"Text me after you mow the grass and I'll tell you where your allowance is."


"Clean this room! Pronto!"

The same technique works with subordinates or coworkers that are otherwise preoccupied. A quick note reminding them of a meeting at a time and place will ensure that everyone is in attendance and in the loop. One way to delegate responsibility through sticky notes:

"Meeting @ 1:30, Conference Room A, tell your team, please."

5. Making List-Style Notes

List-style formatting is a great way to optimize the use of sticky notes for those goals that are just bigger than short term, but not quite long term. Make a numbered row down the left side of the sticky note-




-and use each line to list a few steps to meet an intermediate goal. As you meet the urgent call to action that you write for each step, cross it off and move down the list. The goal will be met before you know it.

These types of goals, like any goal really, requires a steady determination to see a positive effect from the effort. Stay at it, create compelling messages on each note or line, and see your small steps through. It is important to remember that the small steps must truly be small enough to fulfill easily. This regular sense of accomplishment will drive us to the next level.

Sticky Notes Have Proven Their Worth

Since their invention, sticky notes have been utilized by millions of people in hundreds of countries around the world. This easy, simple, utilitarian tool crosses all boundaries to meet basic human communication needs. With these five tips, sticky notes will help you stay organized and on schedule, making continuous, visible progress towards an improved quality of life and mental wellness that comes with less stress.


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