“Smart people, armed with nothing more than little pieces of yellow paper, can figure out pretty much anything.”

–Maggie Huffman

How fun to quote myself. Pretentious? Sure. But still fun. It’s from my first book and I printed it on the cover of the sticky-pad notebook I had as a give away.

I think I’ve earned my PhD in the practical psychology of post-its, a.k.a. “stickies”. I’ve certainly spent enough  money to cover the tuition, and enough time to cover the lab and field work. I’ve also got theories that I’ve tested in my research. Here are the Cliff Notes from my thesis:

  • First, stickies come in colors, which allows you to use the massive percentage of your brain devoted to visual processing and to access the non-verbal language of color. Oh, and color is fun. They aren’t what you usually write on (unless you’re like me!) Most of them don’t have lines. All of these things help you tap into the more creative part of your brain. You are automatically in brainstorming mode – which means you’ve suspended your disbelief and judgment modes.
  • Stickies are little. They force you to identify the essence of your idea and a few representational words. You don’t really get to waste a lot of time word-smithing. You move faster, almost as fast as you can think, so you don’t lose very many ideas.
  • For the same reason (they’re small) stay in conceptual mode, rather than detail mode. You don’t need to go fully down rabbit holes, you can establish place-holders.
  • Stickies are not designed to be permanent. This facilitates many wonderful things. Since they aren’t permanent, they don’t need to be perfect, and your inner critic can take a break. You can change your mind, you don’t need to commit to an idea, you can play with it, you can toss it. Your imagination is freed up.
  • Stickies are moveable. You can rearrange, prioritize, be flexible. You don’t need to decide the structure (or format) before you start. You can go with the flow and see what emerges – it doesn’t have to be a list or a paragraph. It’s easier to compare one idea to another, to merge things that are related, and to ultimately get rid of things that don’t add value.
  • You can use stickies for a plethora of things – managing your calendar, a project planner, outline for a book (not that I know anyone who has done that!), cheerful reminders, color thinking mantras, brainstorming, problem solving, collaborating, process improvement…see, a plethora!
  • Your end result is more organic. The structure flows from your thinking, not vice versa. Your results are highly visual, more adaptable, cleaner, richer and more diverse than just sitting down in front of a blank sheet of paper.

So I guess I could summarize by saying that using sticky notes fosters a sustainable mind-garden. And they’re recyclable!

In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!

Love and light,

Maggie

*****

I’ve got a new program coming out soon, combining Color Thinking and leadership development. Schedule a call if you’d like to chat about it.  I might have a couple of spaces still open.

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