Post-it notes are the unsung hero of the workplace. The humble Post-it finds its place in meetings, tracking tasks on project planning boards, or for personal reminders.
Despite the prevalence of Post-its in the modern workplace, few people ever stop to think about the best way to write one. It seems trivial, almost ridiculous, but there’s something to be said for an artfully penned Post-it.
How many times have you seen a Post-it with some illegible scrawl all over it? Given that we use them for things as important as project planning boards, perhaps we should make sure what we write can be understood by another human?
In this article I’ll show you a few simple tips to write better Post-it Notes
The most obvious, yet sadly most neglected rule of Post-it craftsmanship (or written communication in general) is to make sure your handwriting is legible.
It turns out all that handwriting practice we did at school still has some utility despite the advent of keyboards. Write slowly. Don’t join up your letters. Use all caps if that makes your writing easier to read — or use all lower-case if that looks better.
Use a Sharpie
This one is only slightly less obvious. From a distance, anything written in a ballpoint pen is indistinguishable from a stray hair.
Use a thick pen with dark ink. Make sure what you write can be read from across the room meeting room — because it turns out your colleague is sat there and trying to see what you’ve written!
Be as terse as possible
You’re not writing War and Peace. There’s no award for the most flowery metaphor. One word is ideal. Two if necessary. If you need more than seven words to communicate your idea, then perhaps your idea is too complicated. Split your idea up and use two Post-its if necessary.
Avoid unnecessary words by replacing them with symbols. ‘And’ can be replaced with ‘+’. ‘1’ is better than ‘one’. ‘/’ is better than ‘or’.
Use as much space as possible
You have an entire 3 square inches of space — just think of what you can do with all that real estate! There’s no need to cram everything into the top left hand corner. Write large letters that fill as much space as possible.
Post-Its come in all sorts of wacky colours. Of course, the primary purpose of this is to brighten up drab office spaces. However, there is a hidden secondary purpose, which is you can group your ideas by colour. Intentional colour coordination will make it easier to digest the florescent mess produced at the end of sprint retrospective.
Pull down not across
This one isn’t so obvious. Turns out there’s a correct way to pull off a Post-It, and that’s down.
You can see from the image that this technique produces the Superior Flat Post-It. Once you know this trick you can mock all of your peers as they continue to produce horrible curled toenail like Post-Its, and yours are all satisfyingly crisp and flat.
So there you have it — you’re now an expert Post-it scribe. Go forth and communicate.