I’m going to let you in on a secret of how I keep my sh*i together(ish).
It’s a daily habit.
No, it’s not beer.
Although on some days an IPA or two keep me from losing it.
It’s not a complicated, life-management system either.
It’s really quite simple.
It’s a Post-it note.
I write love notes to my girls in their lunch boxes, jot down honey-dos for my husband, and book mark When Breath Becomes Air to remember my page and flag words I want to search and quotes I want to keep.
I use this office sample daily.
I stick Post-its everywhere – on my desk cabinet at school, on my steering wheel, even in my daily planner on top of my hand written to-dos.
Post-its help me organize my life.
But the #1 way these 3 x 3’s keep me sane is on my nightly to-do list.
This use is critical to managing my anxiety.
When the girls and I get home in the evening, we follow a routine – coats off, backpacks unpacked, lunch boxes on the counter. As the girls settle into their homework, I stand in the kitchen and write myself a Post-it-note-list.
I throw down a couple to-dos and stick the Post-it to my countertop.
Seriously, these little yellow buddies help stop the swirling in my head. Like a magic pill, writing a quick note calms my on-the-go-brain.
It sounds OCD, and maybe it is, but those 3 x 3’s help keep the insanity at bay.
Note the word coffee.
Yes, I’m reminding myself to grind coffee.
Why would you need to do that?, you wonder.
Seeing the word Coffee on a Post-it note makes the task feel doable and not overwhelming.
Overwhelming? Grinding coffee beans takes all of two minutes, you think.
How is grinding coffee overwhelming?, you ask.
I know, it’s a bit insane because you’re right, grinding coffee takes only two minutes. I actually timed how long it took to fill our container full of ground coffee and yes, it was two minutes.
Yet without the note, I’m thinking about what I need to do.
If I don’t write it down, I find myself wanting to immediately move to the task and work to cross it off my to-do list. Without the list, I start to feel pressure and become stuck thinking about how I need to grind coffee.
I can’t relax.
The girls start seeking my attention for this and that and I help, I play, I do, but I’m fixated on grinding the coffee.
This is where the Post-it note works.
When I write Coffee on a Post-it note, I can stay present. I have less stress and am happier and more productive.
Seeing my pending tasks written on a Post-It note allows me to free space to be
Who doesn’t want that?
I learned this simple trick when I first had Veronica, nine years ago.
At the time I had a frilly pink princess notebook where I wrote sleep and feeding times, inspirational quotes, pieces of conversation, and notes to myself. It was also where I’d write out my daily to-do’s, which quite literally consisted of Take a Shower and Empty the Dishwasher.
I continue to use a notebook, this one, for my daily, weekly, and long-term planning, but my system has evolved to include Post-it notes.
Sometimes it’s a simple list, like the one above. Other times I put my teaching to work and do a backward map of the evening with a little note about how much time I think a task will take and prioritize my to-dos.
The Post-it note.
It’s a powerful tool.
I learned that years ago in the most unlikely of places – a drinking part at a guy friend’s house. His parents were away for the weekend and my friend decided to invite a few friends over.
The party was non-memorable, but the Post-it notes, those stuck with me. I was drawn in by the notes his dad left all over the house. He had stuck Post-its on the microwave, on the foot of my friend’s bed, on the stationary bike with reminders, such as Get Your Daily Exercise.
My favorite note was posted on the screen of the television: Enjoy the solitude.
Do you remember these tvs?
I pulled it off and stuck the note in my pocket. I’m not sure why, but I keep the Post-it in plain sight on my bedroom mirror the rest of my junior year.
It seems that my friend’s dad was onto something.
I mean if Harvard is talking about it, well, then …
You can read about the power of the Post-It Note here.
Here’s a snippet:
“Imagine that you really need to convince someone to do something, such as following through on a task. You might be surprised to learn that one of the best ways to get someone to comply with your request is through a tiny nuance that adds a personal touch—attaching a sticky note.”
Why is that?
- It doesn’t match the environment—the sticky note takes up space and looks a bit cluttered. The brain, therefore, wants it gone.
- It gets attention first because of #1. It’s difficult to ignore.
- It’s personalized. (That’s the difference between Group 2 and Group 3 in the experiment.)
- Ultimately, the sticky note represents one person communicating with another important person—almost as if it is a favor or special request, which makes the recipient feel important.
In the high-tech world we live in today, Post-it notes still hold cred.
Enjoy the solitude.
P.S. While this method works for me, some Moms prefer using technology and apps like FreshBooks to go paperless and stay organized. I found a free 30-day trial on their site if anyone is interested in checking out their offerings.