Post-its: Little Boxes of Possibilities

I have a design confession: I love Post-it Notes! I always have, ever since I discovered them in art school. There’s just something about its perfect shape, perfect size, and perfect color that I can’t resist. I always saw them as little canvases that were waiting for something, anything!

Who knew that this perfectly simple little square would be the sensation that it is, especially when you consider how they came to be. If you don’t know, It seems they were invented by one Dr. Spencer Silver, a chemist at 3M. In his quest to invent a super strong adhesive, he invented a super low-tack one instead. He didn’t know what to do with this new discovery for the longest time, until 1974 when a colleague, used some of his adhesive to make a bookmark that would stay on the page and could be repositioned. Fast forward to 1980 when 3M released the little squares and quickly became a sensation. Oh, and the yellow color? That seems to be a happenstance as well. The original team who came up with Post-it notes used scrap paper left over from another project.

Knowing it’s humble beginning makes those little squares of magic even more special. Of course today, they come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. A far cry from the original 3” canary yellow square, which is still the most widely used of all.

So what do I use them for? Obviously, I use them, as most people do, for writing notes to help me remember things. But those magic little squares hold so much more promise. I’ve used them in everything from art projects to planning events, and as an executive functioning tool as well. With 100 sheets per pad, Post-its allow for a lot of experimentation, planning, and thought. Here are four ways I use Post-it Notes.


Post-its currently offers an array of colors giving me a wide pallet in which to work with.

A search on Amazon will yield results that range from hot pink to pastels. I often use several hues of the same color or analogous colors such as green and blue when I work with them. I also layer colors together so when I fold a sheet into a shape, another color will peak out. And yes, folding is what I do with them. I fold each sheet giving them a 3-dimensional aspect. These are simple geometric forms such as diamonds and parallelograms. I also use origami techniques as well. The magic comes from the repetition of the shapes, the simplicity of the shapes, and the way each color plays off another. See below for pictures of my latest work using Pos-its!


So now here’s where we get to a Post-its true calling. Post-its are great for executive functioning. Together with a brainstorming wall, they can really organize your thoughts. The magic is that you can organize and, then later, re-organize your thoughts. I’m currently using them to organize a project. I start out writing all the major parts of the project, then rearrange, subtract, or add to the project as it develops. It helps me to visualize the finished work.

To-Do Lists

Summer is the “to do” time of the year.

I’m one of those who gets a kick out of scratching off lines from a list of things to do, so crumpling Post-its sends me into nirvana. There’s nothing more satisfying than physically destroying a tiny piece of paper with a hated chore after it's done. I think of it as a personal application of gamification. When I’m really swamped with things to do over the weekend, a dozen or so squares will go up on my board, then get tackled one by one. The prize? The faster I go through them, the more time I have to enjoy the weekend.


Using Post-it Notes in journals is something I’m just discovering. I’ve always been interested in bullet journaling, which is a system of rapid journaling using short notations and bullets. I’m currently experimenting with using Post-its in Journals. I see how they can be useful in that they can travel from page to page as I navigate from day to day within the journal. For example, If I have any unresolved tasks I can easily move them to the next week or month just by moving the Post-it instead of rewriting it. For this I use the small 2 X 2 Post-its.

Post-its are analog tools in a digital age. Their tactile nature somehow transcends our modern lives and give us the connection to “doing” and “accomplishing” that we all need. Experiment with Post-its and see how you can use them to help you organize, create, and do!

Below are some of my latest work with Post-it's

3 Sides, 2018 (above)

Triptych, 2018 (below)

Check out the video below on the three pieces (above) I made for my bedroom wall.

Recent Posts

Follow me on

  • Twitter Long Shadow

I'm always happy to get to know my readers and share insights and ideas. 


Drop me a line 

All website content is written, photographed, and maintained

by Rick Funes.


© 2016

Rick Funes

PO Box 141166

Coral Gables, Florida 33114-4445