When productive Post-It notes go awry

Don’t you love a good Post-it Note?

Plump little pads. Available in all different sizes. With lines or without. A rainbow of colors. They stick and re-stick, etc. post-it-notes

There is something satisfying about writing down one particular task or leaving a note on a Post-it. You can place it in the perfect strategic location for yourself or someone else.

The bathroom mirror. The steering wheel of the car. Directly on your cell phone screen.

Once upon a time I was really excited about Post-it Notes because I received a pop-up Post-it dispenser as a thank you gift from a student. She was excited to share something that worked for her.

So, I set up my new Post-it dispenser and starting Post-it Noting to my hearts content. I had Post-it Notes in the daily squares of my desk calendar. I put Post-it Notes on my office door to let people know where I would be. I put really important notes on Post-its in my day planner with an extra Post-it reminder with a word in block letters. IMPORTANT or MUST DO TODAY.

But I crossed the line when I started to trim my computer monitor with Post-it Notes.

I came into the office one day, sat down at my desk, and immediately started to feel stressed. I wasn’t sure what was happening. I couldn’t seem to focus on one task at a time. I was jumping around on the computer, opening an email, starting it, and moving onto another one.

I started entering grades when my eyes fell on a note reminding me to prepare data for a project. It was supposed to have been submitted the day before.

Grading came to a screeching halt and my attention turned to the report I needed to prepare and submit.

My attention also turned to the Post-it Notes that outlined my monitor.

I could feel my heart rate increase as I looked at them.

Glaring little reminders of all the things I hadn’t done that required some of my attention.

They were little wardens keeping track of my time and making me feel as if I were under around the clock surveillance. If I didn’t keep making progress, I was obviously a bad girl. I wasn’t capable of managing myself to accomplish all of my tasks.

Without further ado I pulled all of the Post-it Notes off the monitor and threw them away.

The good news? There was an immediate sense of relief. I could breathe again and focus at my desk.

The bad news. There was none.

The truth is that even though I didn’t take the time to transfer all of those tasks to my day planner, the ones that were truly important made it their anyway. And this time, they were scheduled to be completed on an assigned day and time.

Post-it Notes, as wonderful as they are, did not work for me when used as a hodgepodge to keep track of my to-do list. I need a little more structure, with tasks assigned in a specific order, a time that I will work on a task, and often deadlines to submit my work.

How about you?

This is a great time of year to look at what you intend to accomplish before December 31st and consider the progress you’re making.

If you’re on track with your goals for 2014, then whatever you use for a time/self management system is probably working.

But if you find that you haven’t made the progress you’d like, or you spend more time feeling overwhelmed than productive, it might be time to take a look at the tools you’re using.

Your tools have to support you. They should not make you feel overwhelmed and unable to focus.

The Post-it Notes were appealing to me because I like colors and writing notes to myself.

They didn’t work though because at the end of the day, I do not function well when there is a lot of clutter around me. In makes my head foggy and I can’t settle into my task.

As we approach the new school year and big push for productivity before the holiday season, take a minute to consider what works for you. And if you need one, I have a free Post-it Note pop-up dispenser I’m giving away.

Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb:
Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, teacher, and mom who helps busy women use journaling to create more space in their life for being productive without feeling overwhelmed. To learn more about Sara and her work in the world, please visit joyfulbydesign.com or saramarchessault.com.

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