Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fun with Post-its

In 1977, 3M launched the Post-it.  That same year, I launched my first child, and my 34-year stint as a mother of minor children.  Coincidence?  Maybe.  But as motherhood has made its inevitable inroads into my short-term memory, the proliferation of these handy little brain cell substitutes has kept pace.  

Over the years, our product options have expanded to include a dizzying selection of colors, sizes, shapes and functions beyond the now-pedestrian square yellow tacky original.  It is now possible to store one's thoughts on a green apple-shaped note, to tab one's file with a magenta arrow, and to nag one's child with an initial-shaped missive.  (Is "Clean Your Room!" better received, and/or likelier to happen, if delivered in purple ink on a periwinkle letter Z than in the more traditional maternal shriek?)  And there are special Post-it To Do list pads, and shopping lists.  Specialty notes with catchy phrases abound, as well.  In my collection are notes screaming SEX! in big red type, with "Now that I've got your attention" in quieter print below; soft gray notes proclaiming that "Writers have the last word;" and "If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done," clearly the procrastinator's choice.

The image above is a photo of my current computer desktop, awash in electronic post-its, courtesy of the Stickies application for Mac.  Along the left-hand side of the picture are arrayed alphabetized notes, color-coded by life area--green for my older teen, pink for his younger sibling, light blue for the nonprofit organization which takes up half my weeks, gray for this blog, deeper blue for personal, and yellow for everything else.  Unlike the non-virtual version, these digital notes never lose their grip and slip mercifully into oblivion.  As you can see, I now need to devote some time to clearing these reminders.  I am similarly in need of unclogging my actual short-term memory.  I am giving way too much conscious RAM to way too many trivial compunctions these days.  Maybe that's why I can barely hold a thought long enough to transfer it to one form of Post-it or another.  Or remember where I put the Post-it!

Like a lot of things we invent to simplify our lives, the helpful Post-it can lend itself to abuse.  If we are prone to overcomplicating, we need to guard against our tendency to co-opt even the simplest item into our crazy schemes to overrun our lives with chaos.  I, for one, am overdue for a Post-it purge, and a stricter diet.  While I tackle that, we can all amuse ourselves with this dazzling display of Post-it creativity, using connected Pop-up notes.  But beware the temptation to follow the You Tube fairy and get lost in the amazing garden of post-it art and pranks!

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