How Post-it Notes Can Help You Keep Perspective

Annie Neubrech

Who knew that making decisions could be so tough? In my 23 years as a parent and 20+ years of management experience, I’ve seen too many examples, both professionally and personally, of Post-it Notes Photopeople losing perspective when it comes to making important decisions.

For years, I didn’t have an effective method or approach to help them limit the emotional stress from their situations until I was in my own crisis trying to talk someone off a ledge. This individual had lost perspective in a decision they thought they needed to make. As a result, they were paralyzed by their emotions.

My own stress came from not being in front of them; I was on a phone at the airport. Grasping for a way to calm them down, I suggested they close their eyes and visualize a wall of Post-it Notes. My visualization strategy worked so well that I’ve since adopted it as a standard for helping others maintain a proper perspective in making key decisions. Here’s how it works:

Close your eyes and visualize a wall of yellow Post-it Notes. Each Post-it Note represents a day, week, month, or year as the timespan of the impact of your decision. In replacing one or more of the yellow Post-it Notes with a pink one, you witness the impact of your decision. In most cases, the pink Post-it Notes represent the proverbial “drops of waterperse in an ocean.”

To further illustrate how the visual strategy works, let’s look at a 20-year old college student considering taking a year off from school. Their major concerns are falling behind fellow classmates and the possibility of never catching up. By applying a visual perspective technique, the point of view changes dramatically. For the student, the wall of yellow Post-it Notes representing their future could equal 60 more years! When they change one yellow Post-it Note to pink, representing the year-off from school, it greatly reduces the emotional stress of the decision; a balanced perspective is restored.

Over time, the benefits of maintaining perspective when making important decisions become obvious. Your stress level is greatly reduced, you are less dramatic, you make smarter decisions, and you don’t have to enlist your family or co-workers when making every decision.

In addition to the Post-It Notes strategy, below are four questions you can ask to help frame the discussion about making decisions:

  1. What is the worst thing that could happen as a result of implementing your decision?
  2. What is your recovery plan if the worst thing happened?
  3. Can you live with the above? If yes, take the risk while maintaining perspective.
  4. What is the impact of making no decision?

It’s impossible to go through life and have a career without making tough decisions. Don’t let emotional stress cloud your ability to make smart choices.

Want more strategies that simplify challenging situations? See Business Simplification [Infographic].


About Annie Neubrech

Annie Neubrech is a Regional Vice President at SAP with responsibility for the partner engagement team in the US sales region. Her teams manage the relationships with more than 200 US partners and distributors that resell and provide services to end-customers as well as the SAP PartnerEdge programs that support them. With SAP since May 2010, Annie’s previous roles with SAP included responsibility for partner recruitment, onboarding, enablement and channel expansion across all partner types (from VAR and SI to OEM and ISV).