When I met recently with Design Technologist* Joe Fraga, he employed an interesting note-taking process I’d never seen before. As we talked, Joe made notes on sticky notes, NOT in a notebook or on a pad.

Notebooks keep ideas and questions stuck amidst too many others. Post-its can be arranged and rearranged, Kanban style, he said, referring to the clever analog method of visualizing a problem and defining possibilities and actionable tasks without getting overwhelmed (I wrote about it here along with the digital version I employ daily).

Sally Schneider / Improvised Life

At the end of our meeting, Joe carefully placed the stack of notes in his pocket to refer to later.

A few days later, he emailed a photo of his process working on the various ideas we’d discussed.

Each sticky note holds one idea; he’d added additional notes while working with them. The notes can be organized and re-arranged as needed. Brilliant!


Joe Fraga’s Photo via Hipstamatic


Although I’ve long been in love with post-its for capturing on-the-fly ideas, I didn’t take them to the next level: putting them in a organizational framework so I could see how they fit into the bigger scheme and/or develop ways to implement them. I’d either transfer them to other files or let them float around.  Joe’s method has already changed that.

Plain white 3 x 3-inch post-its have long been my favorite sticky note, providing a “clear space” without lines or colors to distract or confuse. Four hundred and fifty of them — 5 packs — cost about $8, or less than 2 cents each. (I was thrilled to discover small 1.5 x 2-inch sticky notes, long unavailable until recently!)  Joe says he often uses colored sticky notes for color-coded processes.






Sally Schneider


*The best definition of a Design Technologist I’ve found is an interaction designer, a coder, a visual designer, an information architect all rolled together (via Medium.)


If you’ve found illumination, joy, or inspiration in this post, please consider supporting Improvised Life. It only takes a minute to make a secure donation that helps pay our many costs. A little goes a long way towards helping Improvised Life continue to live ad-free in the world.

Support Improvised Life ♥

One thought on “Capture Ideas on Sticky Notes to Make Them Actionable, Kanban Style

  1. Sally, are you familiar with the English writer and television personality named Will Self? He is an obsessive post-it note writer, collector and displayer — a critical part of his working process. There are photographs documenting his work space that you can see via a quick Google image search, although the best ones — showing how he organizes the (only yellow) post-it notes both vertically and in journals — are in a book I show my students. In it, he explains his methodology and the psychological motivations that influenced it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *