Anybody who’s worked in an office or lived with roommates is grudgingly familiar with the art of passive-aggressive notes. If you’ve ever had to live with fluorescent post-its by the water cooler or ever-growing mound of dirty dishes, then you know just how much of an effect those little squares can have on your day.

This study method turns that nuisance into a passive but productive way to learn and retain new information. Whether you opt for passive or direct wording, seeing those little notes all the time can help you to remember study material.

Step One: Plan your method of attack

Look at the information you want to study. Is it a few troublesome vocabulary words? A complicated formula? Several detailed history identifications? Think about what it is you want to learn and break the information down into note-sized chunks.

Some formats you can use for individual notes are:

  • Flash cards/notecards
  • Full-page notes or formulas
  • Post-its with words or short phrases
  • Printed or drawn illustrations
  • Text or diagrams (like molecular structure drawings) out of environmental supplies (like fridge magnets)

Step Two: Draft your notes
Because this study method is predominately passive, it is essential that your information is broken down into small, note-sized chunks. You aren’t going to stand in front of your fridge and read the class notes you wrote on graph paper, but you will see “1 in=2.54 cm” written in large letters on a post-it by your light switch.

Using colored markers, colored paper, large lettering and drawings can help to catch your eye. Sticking old-fashioned flash cards in different places and quizzing yourself throughout the day also works.

Step Three: Pay attention to what works
This study method works well as a supplement to your usual homework regimen. Words you just can’t remember how to spell, formulas that need to know by heart and details that you’re reviewing from lecture can be reinforced without much effort.

Some places will work better for you than others. Maybe after a few days you remember everything that was written on your bathroom mirror, but never even glanced at the notes on the fridge. Maybe you need to be more conscientious about quizzing yourself instead of just glancing at the material. Pay attention and adjust your notes for maximum reward.

Passive-aggressive notes are effective at getting your room- or office-mate’s attention, so put a positive spin on the method and make your schoolwork get your attention throughout the day.