I’m not interested in keeping my planner on my computer; I’m just not. Digital calendars drive me insane. I have to use them for classes or group projects from time to time, and I’ve learned over the years that I hate everything about them. The confusing interface of adding a new event, the stress of not being sure if your inputs will sync properly between devices, the anxiety of accidentally adding a personal event to a group calendar; none of it is for me. When I can, I prefer to use a physical calendar, specifically the one I got as a Christmas gift from my granddad. I would never have bought it for myself, but I love it, and I keep it on the wall in front of my desk. In each square that demarcates a day lies a short yet complex math problem and each month covers a different mathematical concept. The puzzles are a nice challenge, but they take up quite a bit of space, which makes planning for future events difficult at times. I could write over them, and I often do, but even more often, I turn to the help of some simple stationery; I grab a sticky note.
In my twelve years of being a student, I’ve found that sticky notes are the best tool I can use to stay on top of my responsibilities. They stand out as brightly-colored reminders of upcoming tests, due dates for assignments, phone calls I need to make, and emails I need to send. I typically keep my sticky notes on my wall, but I also take advantage of their portability. I can easily transfer a note I wrote in class to my calendar, which is part of why they work so well for me. I like to physically rearrange the information I write, bringing more important items to the front and leaving less pressing matters on the sides. With their ease of transportation, eye-catching colors, and convenient size, the benefits of a simple sticky are seemingly countless. They do, however, come with an unfortunate downside: they fall off. A post-it can only be moved around so many times before it starts to lose its trademark stickiness, and a post-it note on the floor isn’t a very good visual reminder. It’s at this point that I can start to use my sticky notes for their less conventional, more artistic purpose.
My mother still has pictures of me and my best friend running our very first lemonade stand when we were in second grade. We weren’t just selling lemonade, though; we also had our very own origami creations on display. In between the disposable cups were paper creatures of all sorts: frogs, cranes, lizards, horses, and a few other simple renditions of common animals. Our origami didn’t sell well that day, but that never lessened my enjoyment of the craft. Origami is fun for me because it keeps my hands busy. When I’m watching TV, waiting for an online meeting to start, or relaxing and listening to music, the simple act of folding paper helps me stay present. Over the years, I’ve made hundreds, maybe thousands, of origami pieces. I most often make crabs and star-shaped boxes, but I’m also quite skilled at making the staples that adorned my elementary school lemonade stand. I especially like to use post-it notes that have fallen out of usefulness. Once I’ve crossed off every task on one of my mini to-do lists, or the sticky back no longer functions well enough, I turn it into something new and give it a special place on my desk. I decorate my workspace with origami, and I like that each piece has a bit of my life inside of it. I could use store-bought origami paper to make more presentable pieces, but I prefer to reuse what I have and make decorations from the otherwise mundane.
The process of turning a used sticky note into something new and interesting is a fun way for me to relieve stress, stay focused during class, or occupy my hands while watching my favorite shows. And there’s a bit of comfort in knowing that the way I use post-its can’t be digitized. As my calendars and journals get imported into the Cloud, my origami sticky notes stay tangible and in my hands, just as I like them to be.