101 uses for a Post-it Note

Welcome to 101 uses for a Post-it note.  The idea for this page arose from the Top 10 web searches that found this blog.  To my surprise Post-it note or variations on the phrase brought more people to the blog than any other search term.  I tried to make sense of this and my thoughts led me to create this page.

The idea is simple.

It’s to build up a list of 101 uses for a Post-it note.  The inspiration is Simon Bond’s seminal work 101 Uses of a Dead Cat .  The uses should be loosely related to work and to the public sector but otherwise can be

  • serious (but not too serious please)
  • improving of customer service
  • an aid to efficiency
  • creative
  • inspiring
  • ridiculous (we all need some light relief in these hard times).

Uses will be plagiarised sourced from wherever they can be found – that means the darkest recesses of my mind, anywhere else on the web I find stuff, but most of all YOU.

You can propose a use by using the Reply box at the end of this page or the comment form on the blog’s About page.

101 Uses for a Post-it Note is an ongoing project.  How long it takes to complete depends on you.


No. 1 – How to build an agenda for an unconference for 200 people in 5 minutes flat

1. Take one flip chart

2. Divide into no. of sessions/meeting spaces available

3. Borrow Dave Briggs, Learning Pool’s community evangelist

4. Provide him with 1 pen + 1 pad of Post-its

5. Gather delegates around flip chart/Dave

6. Invite them to call out what they want to discuss

7. From ensuing anarchy allow DB to discern consensus, summarise in single words/pithy phrases, transcribe to Post-its, and slap on flip chart

8. Disperse to meeting spaces

It works!

No. 2 – A handy place to keep your computer password

As traditionally seen in many offices across the land (see right).  Ensures you don’t forget the pesky blighter overnight and an antidote to those  IT people who keep insisting you change your password every six weeks – especially when they want you to remember a mix of letters/numbers and upper/lowercase text.  Just don’t expect any sympathy when someone logs on to your machine and e-mails <All> in your name with acerbic comments about the CE’s parentage.

No. 3 – Filling those long empty hours at work

It was only searching ideas for 101 uses… that I became aware there’s a whole sub-culture of Post-it art.

Some of it wouldn’t fit at all into 101 uses….  Lots of cars covered in the things, models (human variety) ditto, a portrait of Jimi Hendrix made out of Post-it notes.  And so on.

But suddenly one of the Twitterati alerted me to Work/Work – a group research exhibition investigating how artists balance their creative work with paid jobs.  The exhibition ran from 3 – 11 March 2011 at the Lo & Behold Gallery in London.

Dominic Bradnum’s Notes To Self was prominent in the exhibition

an archival artwork made up of approximately 1,966 individual post-it note “artworks” created over a 6 year period, whilst in full-time employment

Now that’s interesting – 1,966 notes drawn while in full-time employment over six years.  By my reckoning of the normal number of working days a year that must be an average of more than one a day.

Were they drawn in work time?  With the employers’ precious stationery supplies?  It would be indiscreet to ask but a photo on the Work/Work web site suggests some at least were produced between 9 and 5.  I especially like some of his raw material for the bigger work.  Note the Post-it reading “AAAAAAAH!  ANNUAL REVIEW”.  Never did three words tell a story more effectively.  Seems like he wasn’t looking forward to his annual appraisal.  We can all sympathise with that one.

My thanks to @lelil for alerting me to Notes To Self, to @noelito who in turn tweeted her about it and of course Dominic Bradnum for the idea

No. 4 – “I wish this was…” – a low tech aid to urban regeneration

A slight cheat this one because I’m not convinced these wee things are strictly speaking Post-it notes.  But I couldn’t resist it.  Let’s assume the glue on the back is Post-it glue.

American urban planner (as well as public installation artist and designer) Candy Chang had the brilliant idea of creating these sticky notes for people in New Orleans (which has needed some post-flood regeneration in recent years) to put on derelict buildings, or fences, or signs…or anything they want improved in their neighbourhood.

As the handy display boxes they come in put it “FREE STICKERS – pull out and leave on abandoned buildings and beyond”

Oh, and since she’s been kind enough to let me use her great idea here, she does sell them so if you have a regeneration project and are looking for a novel way to get participation, here’s where to go.  Her web site has lots of great photos of other uses too.

No. 5 – An aid to rapid thought under stress

I just started making lists both mentally and on little yellow sticky pieces of paper, Post-it notes, and headed into the office – Valerie Plame Wilson on her reaction when discovering in the New York Times along with everyone else that she had been exposed as a covert CIA agent by the White House, BBC Radio 4 programme On the Ropes, 9 March 2011.

No. 6 – Digital Post-it Notes

Don’t like the way they curl up at the edges and float down from your computer screen with the-glue-that-does-not-stick?

Why not try digital Post-it notes?  The screen shot (left) is from the CNET web site which reviews (and offers a free trial of) the 3M software version of the ubiquitous sticky.

Yes, 3M.  The inventors of the original paper version.  They could obviously see the writing on the wall screen for their traditional product so they’ve come up with this variant.  A bit like all those fancy products that “extend the range” of otherwise perfectly acceptable confectionery bars (mint Rolos, mini Yorkies etc etc).  You can do fancy – and annoying – things with the software.  Like cause a digital Post-it to pop up on some innocent colleague’s screen.

The downside?  They disappear when you switch your machine off.  And have you ever tried using a digital Post-it note as a bookmark?

Other sticky note software is available.

No. 7 – Sponsored Post-it Notes

Sponsored as in advertising medium.  They don’t miss a trick, do they?  What better way of getting your message over than ensuring it’s constantly in front of the willing workers as they look for that scrap of paper to record the latest note to self.  A by-now traditional addition to the array of freebies offered at exhibitions and conferences – joining the helpful 6″-rulers, key rings, erasers, stress balls and (for the exhibitor aiming up-market) pen drives.  Genuinely useful but, guys, please leave enough space for us to actually use the things.  Your copy writer might have thought it amusing to add an apparently hand-written note about Brian’s stress but it pales after the 50th sticky is peeled off.  Probably the hassle of finding enough space to use gave poor old Brian the stress in the first place.

No. 8 – The Post-it Note wedding favor (sic)

The more I look into it the more bizarre the world of the Post-it note becomes.  Seeking desperately for a link between Post-its and the wedding of “Will and Kate” (aka HRH Prince William and Catherine Middleton) I discovered the American phenomenon of the Post-it Note wedding favor.  As one of the many web sites selling the things says This castle wedding favor Post-it note [see right] will match perfectly your fairytale come true wedding theme!  Your wedding favor Post-it notes will be the talk of your reception!  Coincidentally the happy bride in this example is named Katie although the lucky man seems to be Marius and the venue Walt Disney World.  A bit like our own dear Westminster Abbey.  I can’t see this featuring on the tables at this particular wedding bash.  But if they do think it’s a good idea and wouldn’t lower the tone there’s just about time to get a batch personalised and FedExed over.

(Since this blog tries to make a link to the public sector, what about wedding favour Post-it Notes as an added value product for Registrars to promote for Town Hall weddings?)

Posted on 28 April 2011, one day before the said wedding.

No. 9 – Essential health and safety aid: making invisible glass visible

Licensed under Creative Commons and courtesy of Ashley Smith Hammond of AmbITion Scotland

Well, better tongue in cheek than foot in glass.  I write as a victim (youngest daughter “No, idiot”) who walked through a glass door many years ago and suffered the consequences.  How I wish there’d been something at eye height on the door to indicate “Here be glass”.

The folks at Culture Hack Scotland obviously thought the same because that’s where they posted their aspirations for their recent culture hack day – on the glass wall of the wonderful Informatics Forum building at Edinburgh University.  Note the varying sizes and artful disposition of the notes, the bold palette, the subtle allusion to Matisse’s seminal L’Escargot.  Note that no-one walked through the wall on the day.  Case proven.

More seriously, if you’re not up to speed with the idea of a hack day take a look at the Culture Hack Scotland web site and then Google the phrase for more examples.  A great way of capturing creative ideas for web applications and developing at least prototypes at high speed.  Beats PRINCE2 hands down any day.  And more fun.  Much.

My thanks to Nicola Osborne whose Tweet and blog alerted me to Culture Hack Scotland and to Erin Maguire who confirmed it was OK to use Ashley’s photo.

No. 10 – Helping you cope with deadlines

It was Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams who said I love deadlines.  I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

Who hasn’t sat at their desk with at least a metaphorical ice pack on their head and sweated blood as inspiration failed to come?

Taiwanese artist Bang-Yao Liu knows the feeling.  He’s also got a big wall over his desk so he was able to work his frustrations out with a 1,000 Post-it notes or more.  Check it out…

Not sure it’ll help you meet your deadline but it does at least help alleviate that whooshing sound the late great Douglas Adams so liked.

Thanks to Ashley Smith Hammond of AmbITion Scotland who brought DEADLINE to my attention and of course to Bang-Yao Liu.

No. 11 – Multi-tasking

My thanks to Anna Whelan for the inspiration for this essential use of the P-i Note.  She writes:

The Post-It shopping list is an invaluable aide to the busy working parent. You know how it is when you are drafting a carefully-crafted response to an important Government consultation and for no apparent reason the thought pops into your head that your daughter needs a packed lunch the next day. Or you are actively facilitating a crucial self-evaluation meeting and suddenly recall that you are out of muesli. By the end of the day your list is complete and all you have to do is peel it off and make a dash for Tesbury’s before picking up the little darlings and heading home to start the second shift.

This may be of more value to men as we need all the help we can get with multi-tasking.

No. 12 – The Peckham Peace Wall

When I started 101 uses… I fully expected to find people using Post-it notes in ways that were ingenious, creative, amusing and even weird.  I didn’t initially expect the uplifting, although one or two of the uses I’ve come across so far have that potential.  What I didn’t expect was the spontaneously inspiring.  But the dreadful riots in English cities earlier this month have produced something that is just that – the Peckham Peace Wall.

If you’re reading this in the UK chances are you’ve seen the wall already – on the TV news or somewhere in  the social media.  It was the brilliant idea of the Peckham Shed Theatre Company in the immediate aftermath of looting in their town centre.  In their own words

After the awful scenes of violence and destruction on the streets of Peckham on Monday night, the Peckham Shed team felt motivated to do something, to get out onto the streets of Peckham and to try and unite the community in some positive, peaceful action

It seems to have worked, with hundred of locals explaining Why we love Peckham.  All credit to the Poundland retail chain who allowed their boarded up window to be hijacked for this great idea (incidentally, what sort of idiot looter breaks into a shop where every item costs £1 only?)

Thanks also to reader Sarah Bowman who correctly said I’d probably seen the Peckham peace wall already but prompted me to add it to 101 uses…

One Response to “101 uses…”

  1. Tim Morton Says:

    You’ve probably noticed it already but
    today’s Guardian online photogallery shows Parisian post-it wars created by bored office workers, or possibly internet start up companies. I like the Tetris and the pac man eating the space invader from the block opposite.
    Tim Morton

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