Franz Kafka once said, “Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” Quite a self-explanatory sentence, right? Who doesn’t like getting the most out of everything they’re up to? But that becomes much easier said than done when you cannot identify the method behind the madness.
Let’s look at this another way. Out of various things that affect one’s productivity, distractions remain on top. Imagine trying hard to meet a deadline, and your mobile rings or vibrates suddenly. What do you do most of the time? You pick it up only to get a notification reminding you about the last date of depositing your credit card fee.
Well, that doesn’t seem like a big deal at all. You’ve been multitasking for so many years by now. How bad can spending a few minutes paying your credit card’s bill affect your task? You’ll get back to where you left off in a matter of minutes. Or can you?
It may surprise you, but an increasing number of experts consider multitasking no more than an illusion. It’s not just their gut feeling. Some highly authentic research backs the claim as well. In fact, the human brain isn’t designed to “multitask”. What you refer to as multitasking is a concept known as “switch-tasking”, switching rapidly between two tasks or actions.
Research reveals that trying to rapidly switch tasks leads to a loss of about 40% in productivity. Now let’s try to understand the equation in terms of time. A researcher at UC Irvine, Gloria Marks, finds that it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to gain the same level of deep concentration in a task every time you switch your attention to a different job and then get back to it.
Now, what if we tell you that you can improve your work productivity significantly by introducing something as simple and meagre as a pack of sticky notes. We know you find it hard to believe, so we’ve compiled a brief list of the benefits of using sticky notes in your work routine. Let’s have a look at it before we move to the how part.
The Benefits of Using Sticky Notes in Your Work
Again, you need to come from a slightly different perspective. We’re already clear about one thing; distractions kill productivity. The concept and visual cue of sticky notes hold the reigns of your attention and imagination, redirecting your time, energy, and efforts to the most critical task in the line-up. Here’s what else sticky notes can do to improve your productivity.
They Help Prioritise Your Tasks
Thanks to modern technological advances, there’s literally no end to what you can include in a task list that you’re creating online. While it may be advantageous to many, it can turn out tricky to many others. For instance, seeing so many tasks collectively can drive people anxious and overwhelmed, which can be counterproductive in many cases. On the other hand, using conventional sticky notes limits the space to write at your disposal. That’s what forces you to confine only to highly prioritised tasks out of many that you need to see to. Creating sticky notes in the order of priority will help you accomplish the most important tasks first, yielding long-lasting productivity gains.
Help Cut on the Screen Time
You cannot deny the convenience modern digital tools add to your life. But they also tend to add distractions too, which is what affects productivity the most. You pick up your phone to respond to just one comment in a heated debate on your post and continue to scroll through your Facebook (or Meta if you would!) feed for the next half an hour. With a sticky note, you focus precisely on what you should, the essential task in your to-do list for the day. They structure your whole day without compromising your focus.
They Create Reminders
Ideas can strike anytime and anywhere. Have you ever been in a meeting or a brainstorming session where your mind comes up with a brilliant idea for something that’s been haunting you for a while? It’s pretty common, right. Happens with so many people all the time. Instead of reaching out for your phone to set a reminder, jotting down the idea on a sticky note is much more feasible. When you’re done with the meeting, you can always get back to the sticky note to see what, when, and how to handle that.
Quick and Convenient
Meetings in general and brainstorming sessions don’t leave you with much time to correctly type on your mobile or even the laptop. The ideas are coming so random and fast that keeping up with them on a computer or mobile can become a challenge. On the other hand, sticky notes serve you as a quick fix, not requiring much time or attention in jotting down a few words.
The Sticky Factor
Imagine getting into an unplanned brainstorming session with a few of your colleagues right in the hallway. No one would want to get to their workstations to bring their laptop. Why not make the most of the sticky factor of the sticky notes? You can stick them to almost any surface, from tabletops to glass walls, notice boards, and even on your nearest wall. What a way to go about work!
Continuing on the same analogy from the last point, a brightly coloured sticky note on the wall facing your whole team is an obvious cue for the entire team. One way or the other, everyone ends up looking at sticky notes stuck on a prominent place like the team’s noticeboard. Every time one does so, it reminds and redirects them to the most crucial task at hand.
Groupable and Repositionable
You can even group sticky notes on a wall, windowpane, or a big noticeboard with the help of some painter’s tape, repositioning and bucketing them as and when you want. You’ll be amazed by how convenient this system makes tracking almost anything.
How to Use Sticky Notes to Super Charge Your Productivity?
Though there can be endless ways of doing so, we’re sharing with you what works the best for most.
Divide and Rule
You can start by dividing the total work time you have for a day into blocks of 60 minutes. Count the total number of blocks at your disposal and assign one sticky note to that block. Now you know exactly how much time you have in one working day.
Line ‘Em Up Right
List down the total number of tasks you’re supposed to do for a day. Write them down on the sticky notes you’ve already blocked out. One task for one sticky note is the way to go. Now line them up in your desired order of priority. For instance, you need to start training your new internee. And, you also have something pending from the last day. With both the tasks written on different notes, stack your last day’s pending task on top of training the internee. You need to line ‘em up right to be the boss.
Get Set, Go
With your tasks prioritised rightly, and your notes aligned accordingly, it’s time to fly. The aim here is to go unhindered on a job for 50 minutes in one go. What’s the best way of doing that? Closing your email, putting your mobile on do not disturb mode, plugging the earbuds in with your favourite track on, and going at it! If you’re allergic to earbuds, it’s okay. Otherwise, those tiny little pieces serve as one of the best ways to cut you out from external distractions. So, you can zone in on the single task at hand and forget everything else for the next 50 minutes. And if you want to avoid looking at the time again and again, set the alarm and get going.
Stop Right There
We know you hate the sound of the alarm that wakes you up in the morning. Almost everyone does! But trust me when I tell you this will become your favourite sound sooner than you know it. So, stop working as soon as the sound of the alarm hits your ears (hopefully, you didn’t turn the volume on too much). In the beginning, don’t even worry about if you’ve completed the task or not. You just had a spree of working faster than ever before, and you’ve already given it your best shot. However, it’s best to develop the habit of winding the tasks up within the 50-minute time slot over a while.
Just like the sound of the alarm that marks the end of your 50-minutes working spree, you’ll fall in love with these 10-minutes slots every single hour. Why? Because these 10 minutes are to reward yourself for the fantastic work you’ve done through the last 50 minutes. You may respond to your texts, have some of your favourite snacks, check quickly on your spouse/kids, or do whatever you want. The point is to signal your brain that the last productivity block is something worth celebrating and enjoying. This arrangement also affects your neurological pathways in establishing a healthy new habit.
You need to set the timer again when you’re done with your break and get back to work until the next alarm sounds.
The best thing is that you can involve others in this sticky-notes arrangement when you find out how effective it has been for your productivity. It will surely double the fun and productivity, both. With more people on it, the chances of external disturbances minimise even further. As everybody (or most of them) will be busy doing theirs, your chances of going uninterrupted will go higher too.
Consider Going Digital
We also need to understand that the world around us will continue going more digital rather than conventional. There are even dedicated productivity apps to expedite your workflow. Once you’ve successfully applied this model of sticky notes to improve your productivity, you may also give the digital version a try.
Finding reliable sticky note software is one of the best ways to do so, with all your team members having access to it. It will update everyone on the virtual board instantly whenever you (or anyone else on the team with the rights) add a new sticky note on it.
Though Microsoft OneNote beats others in popularity by far, some other popular choices for sticky notes platforms include Notezilla, Evernote, and SimpleNote.
Remember, whether you decide to go with conventional sticky notes or virtual ones. Unless you’re fully committed to improving your productivity, nothing is going to work. So, we wish you all the best in trying what works for you to improve your productivity. And don’t forget to share your success story with us. We truly value your feedback.