Sometimes the simplest objects are the most effective. While the humble sticky note may not be a complicated piece of stationery, it’s definitely one of the handiest. If you’ve never used one before, though, you might be asking yourself… what is the use of sticky notes? These elegantly engineered stacks of paper are far more than just a memo pad. They can be used both in the office and at home to keep you organised and allow you to be creative.
Here you can learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about sticky notes, from why they were invented, all the way through to the many sticky note uses and modern incarnations. So grab your memo block and jot down some notes as you discover just how useful sticky notes can be.
What is a Sticky Note used for?
The sticky note is also commonly referred to as a Post-it note, thanks to the popular brand that first made them. These small sheets of paper are ideal for writing short notes, and feature an adhesive strip along the back upper edge which allows you to temporarily stick them to a surface. What are sticky notes used for? They are usually used to stick memos to documents and diary pages, so you can add annotations that can readily be removed.
Sticky notes were something of a happy accident. While working at 3M in 1968, a scientist named Spencer Silver formulated a low-tack adhesive that allowed one item to be stuck to another, and then unstuck and repositioned. Funnily enough, Silver’s original goal was to create an extremely powerful adhesive – in making a weaker one, he paved the way for the sticky note.
Though this repositionable sticky substance sparked interest within the company, it took five years before someone found it a suitable home. The inventor Arthur Fry came up with the idea of adding a strip of Silver’s adhesive to paper notes, and the resulting product was named Press ‘n Peel. The product was relaunched in 1980 under the name Post-it, and it was then that the concept really took off.
If you were asked what colour you associate with sticky notes, you may well say yellow, since Post-it notes were launched in this colour. Rather than being a clever marketing ploy, this was down to an excess of yellow paper in 3M’s offices. The shade was a hit, so they’ve kept the canary yellow notes to this day.
The Benefits of Sticky Notes
Post-its don’t have to mean a cluttered desk, however enthusiastic you are when it comes to your sticky notes use. Just the right size for placing by your phone, taking into a meeting or scribbling on during a lecture, these mini memo pads encourage concise note-taking.
Using a memo pad can be more cost-effective than a traditional notebook, and it can also cut down on paper usage. When you write a short note in a notebook to pass on to someone else, much of the page isn’t used and you’re ultimately wasting paper.
In terms of functionality, their ability to be stuck, repositioned and removed makes sticky notes an incredibly versatile stationery tool. Read on to find out just how many practical, interesting and creative ideas there are for these little notes. We’ve listed 15 of the best sticky note uses, many of which you may not have though of.
15 Sticky Note Uses
A staple in the office and handy to keep at home, sticky notes give you great value for money thanks to their many different functions. Once you’ve read our sticky note ideas, you’ll find yourself using them in all sorts of scenarios.
1. Never Forget a Message
A classic sticky note use but a brilliant one – have a sticky note block by the phone or at reception and you’ll never forget a message. Easy to store on your desk and then safely attach to someone else’s workstation, these notes can encourage harmony in the workplace by making sure everyone receives the information they need.
2. Leave Constructive Feedback
If you’re reading a document and want to make changes, it can feel a little friendlier to add a sticky note than to write directly onto someone’s work. People tend to process and retain the information presented on a sticky note very well, while notes written in between lines on an A4 sheet can be hard to see. Add your annotations on sticky notes, and the employee or student can stick them to their computer screen for ease of reference when editing their original document.
3. A Nifty Book Mark
Keep your place or mark multiple places in a book with sticky notes. They’re especially useful for adding to a textbook when studying, because you can also write notes or reminders relating to that page.
Use them as bookmarks in a recipe book to identify your favourite meals, and jot down changes you made or things to remember about the preparation or cooking time.
4. Clean Your Keyboard
Keyboards are notorious for gathering dust and crumbs, but you need to be careful when cleaning them. Though it’s tempting to use an antibacterial wipe, you need to be cautious about moisture on your keyboard. A clever sticky note use is to utilise the adhesive strip to grab all those little bits trapped between your keys. Thanks to their low-tack nature, sticky notes won’t leave residue or damage the equipment.
5. Organise your Planner
Whether you’re in charge of creating the work rota or you’re a busy parent trying to keep track of everyone’s activities, sticky notes are a great way to plot people and activities on a planner. The fact that you can reposition them makes them super useful during the process, and you can always add extra details to the sticky notes to keep everyone fully briefed and organised.
6. Make the Fridge a Memo Board
If you want to remember something, put a memo on the fridge! It’s an area you know you’ll visit several times in the morning. First, you’ll need the milk for your morning coffee, then you’ll get the butter out for making breakfast. Before you know it, you’ll be heading back for a mid-morning snack. Whether you need to remember your dental appointment or remind your child to take their instrument in for the day’s lesson, you’ll always see a sticky note when it’s on the fridge. Want a completely foolproof version? Stick it on your bottle of milk instead! This is a sticky note idea that comes in handy both at home and at work.
7. Instant Tape
We’ve all had those moments where we run out of Sellotape while wrapping a present. Fear not – by cutting the adhesive strip from a sticky note you can create tape in seconds. Best suited to thinner wrapping paper, this useful hack can save the day when you’re rushing off to a birthday party or trying to help your child complete a school project the night before it’s due.
8. Label Files
Sticky note ideas such as this really highlight the flexibility of this item. Using the same method as above, cut off the area with the adhesive strip and you have the perfect label size for a folder. Use different sticky note shades to colour code your filing, and quickly remove your labels when the folder is repurposed.
9. Master Meal Planning
Bring flexibility and collaboration into your family meal planning by plotting out your dinners using sticky notes. Write a meal idea at the top of the note, then add the ingredients you need to make it underneath. You can use this method to compile a weekly shopping list, or take the sticky note with you to the shop. Family members can also add a note if they’d prefer something else or have a suggestion for a tweak to the recipe.
Plot your sticky note meals out on a board and you can rearrange them if plans change, making feeding the family a breeze.
10. The Sticky Note Coaster
Sticky note uses can be outstandingly simple but effective. Worried about your glass or cup leaving a watermark on the table? Just secure a sticky note to the surface to create a makeshift coaster. If there is a lot of condensation from a glass of iced drink, you can use a few notes to make the coaster thicker and more protective.
11. Label Your Cables
Find the right cord for the job in a hurry by cutting strips from a sticky note and using them to label your cables. Use different shades to colour-code the cables, and save yourself even more time.
12. Food Safety
In the UK, some fresh produce no longer features a suggested use-by date in an attempt to reduce food wastage. This encourages us to use our sight, touch and smell to decide whether fruit and vegetables are safe to eat. If you’d still prefer a little more guidance, you can use sticky notes to label your bags and packets, noting the day they were purchased. Not only will this prevent you from throwing away food unnecessarily, it will also alert you to your food being past its best.
You can also use sticky notes to add a date to batch-prepared meals and leftovers, to make sure you don’t store them for too long and eat food that may have an unsafe level of microbial growth.
13. Create Name Tags
There are many occasions where you may need to make name tags, and sticky notes can help you out every time. They will stick to clothes or chairs if you need to show people where to sit, and can also be used to designate property in shared spaces. Name tags for food in a large, shared work refrigerator can avoid any confusion and arguments between staff. If you share a house and everyone is willing to participate, you can put names on milk and cheese without seeming passive-aggressive.
14. Flip Books
If you have a child who’s a budding artist or you’d like to immerse yourself in a fun, creative task, use a pad of sticky notes to make an animated flip book.
15. Create Art
Drawing individual elements of an image on individual notes and bringing them together like a mosaic is one of the most visually effective, creative sticky note ideas.
There’s real scope to this, and you can keep changing the final picture by swapping out notes. Ideal for a classroom or home project, your work of art can grow and grow.
How to Buy the Best Sticky Notes
Not only can you now buy sticky notes in a variety of colours and print designs, but you can also find them in different shapes. Post-it is a timeless and trusted brand, and you can be assured that their notes will stick around. You can keep things professional in the workplace using the standard yellow or white sticky notes, but if you want to help your children with their studying, you might like to give them novelty shapes to encourage their note-taking. Need your sticky note memos to stand out so there’s no way you’ll miss them? Opt for eye-catching neon colours.
Great value with endless uses, the multi-functional sticky note deserves a place in any workplace or home.