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Planner organization: 5 Ways to use sticky notes for school or college

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It’s back to school time! Sticky notes are one of my favorite tools for planning. While I may not be in school or university anymore, here are the 5 ways I used sticky notes to organize my planner and make studying a bit easier.

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How to use sticky notes in your planner for school or college

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At the start of each week I would ‘pre-plan’ what I needed to get done on a sticky note by creating a to do list and drawing a checkbox beside it. Once I listed out everything that needed to get done, I used smaller sticky notes to allocate the tasks, assignments, homework, etc. to each day.

Using color-coded sticky notes helped maintain a balance between personal and school life, and also so you aren’t cramming and leaving things to the last minute. If you’d found that you’d allocated too much to one day, you can just peel the sticky note and reallocate it to another day.

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2. Use a sticky note to track the progress of assignments

Because assignments can take multiple weekly to complete, I would write a list of the steps needed to finish it. But I grew tired flicking back and forth to other sections of my planner, so opted to use a sticky note instead as it can be moved from week to week. On the sticky note I keep track of all the tasks needed to complete an assignment from start to finish such as:

Assignment Workflow

  1. Choose topic
  2. Research
  3. Outline
  4. Introduction & conclusion
  5. Write body of essay
  6. Proof-read
  7. In-text referencing & Reference list
  8. Finalise ready to submit

I also liked to put the estimated time to complete each step which helps when scheduling tasks in your planner.

Related: FREE Printable Photo Prop Grade Signs for Back to School (first & last day signs for all grade levels)

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3. Use a sticky note to create a weekly summary

I would do this towards the end of the semester when assessment started piling up. I recommend a large sticky note for the this such as the Keji sticky note brand in the 3" x 5" size (they’re only a couple of dollars at Officeworks, I've also seen lined ones at Target). Post it Note also have large lined sticky notes although they're quite expensive!

I would divide my sticky note in 3 sections:

  1. Homework
  2. Study
  3. Assessment (and when the assessment is due)

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Related post: Color coded monthly meal planning using sticky notes

4. Homework & Study


In the homework section I’d list out all of the chapter review questions, readings etc. and draw a square checkbox beside it.

To keep track of what homework I’d started, finished and still needed to do, I would draw a diagonal line through half the checkbox when I'd finished half the homework, and another diagonal line (to form an x) when the homework for that subject was complete.

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Related: Favorite color coding planner supplies for less than $5


In much the same way as the homework tracking, I’d draw a checkbox to keep track of my understanding of each topic for exam prep. If the box was half colored I had an ok understanding (but still needed to do some more study). If the box was fully colored in then I had that topic nailed and was ready for the exam.

As a starting point for study, I would usually move the sticky note that was the previous week's 'homework' to the study section of the following week.

Related: How to organize and color code your notes for school, college or university

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Related: How to make a scallop border in Photoshop (step by step tutorial) plus free printable color coded note paper

5. Assessment

Use a separate sticky note for each assessment and place it on the day it is due. Do this first, before you add anything else to the page - that way you can see what you should prioritise studying first.

One of the reasons I recommend using sticky notes (for any type of planner) is because they can be rearranged depending on what you have going on that week. You could use the Frixion erasable pens but sticky notes are quicker - especially when you're pre-planning the week.

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Yellow versus colored sticky notes

My personal preference is colored sticky notes. They stand out more, especially if you have a lot of subjects.

On the other hand, yellow sticky notes are cheaper, and if you like using colored pens you can see the ink, whereas if you use colored sticky notes you can really only use black pen.

As for color coding, I recommend using:

  • 1 color for personal stuff e.g. cleaning, reminders etc.
  • 1 color for each subject
  • 1 color for your work hours
  • You could also use another color for exams to make them stand out in your planner, or instead of different colors for each subject, different colors for homework, assignments, speeches, group assignments and exams

Related: 50 Category Ideas for Color Coding Your Planner

If you can't find sticky notes in the size you need to suit the planner that you're using, you can always cut them to size.

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My favorite sticky notes are:

  • Small sticky notes are from Post it Note 3M (they have the biggest variety of colored sticky notes)
  • 2 x 2" colored sticky notes (Post it Note 3M brand)
  • 2" long x 1" high sticky notes (Aspire Brand)
  • Target lined sticky notes

If you don't want to pay for lined sticky notes, place the sticky note over a page with lined paper and use those as a guide instead.

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