Invention of the highlighter and productivity tip

Invention of the highlighter and productivity tip

Translucent. Illuminating. Emphasizing. What do these adjectives have in common? They are all words that can be used to describe a highlighter. While yellow was the original color that was developed for the first highlighter; additional colors like pink, blue and orange eventually followed with yellow and pink being the most popular sellers according to The New York Times.

Although highlighters are a common tool used by many administrative professionals, the creation of these colorful pens was anything but ordinary.

Honn’s most colorful invention

First invented in 1963 by Dr. Francis Honn, Carter’s Ink Company produced a pen and called it Hi-Liter. While Dr. Honn is credited with inventing the first highlighter, other similar pens were created in the early 1900s but not sold to the public.

Between the 1950s and mid-1960s, new marking pens would arrive on the market and be sold as “Sharpie” and “Magic Marker.” However, it is believed that the inspiration for Dr. Honn’s highlighter came from a Japanese inventor named Yukio Horie with the Tokyo Stationery Company. Introduced in the early 1960s, the ink in his pen was not translucent but was the first felt-tip pen that used water-based ink.

After graduating from John Carroll University in 1942, Dr. Honn worked for several different companies where he developed many products, before settling in at the place that would launch his most famous invention, the Hi-Liter.

In 1959 Dr. Honn began working as the vice president of technology for Carter’s Ink. The company had released a pen called the Marks-a-Lot; initially well received by parents. There was a small glitch though – the Marks-a-Lot pen was permanent. Parents wanted a marker that would be washable.

Based on that feedback, Carter’s Ink created a new pen called Draws-a-Lot that was a likable alternative, but Honn kept going. After further testing by combining colors and chemicals, he eventually designed a water-based marker that was yellow in color. When he ran it across black type and the letters popped off the page, he knew he had a winner. Equally as important as the eye-popping color, was that the application of the ink to paper was smooth and due to the water-based technology, did not bleed through the paper. Avery Dennison Corporation, known for its self-adhesive labels, purchased Carter’s Ink Company in 1975 and added the highlighters to their line of office products, and the rest as they say is history.

Organize your to-do list with a highlighter and a tickler file

An administrative assistant often receives emails which contain multiple tasks for them to complete. One of the easiest ways to organize the tasks or to dos is to print out the emails and use a highlighter to make the request pop out. This keeps the admin from having to re-read long emails and lets them skip right to the tasks they need to complete.

Often emails will contain several requests that need to be completed in the future. To avoid losing them in a large pile on your desk, try organizing them in a tickler file, one of the oldest and easiest ways to organize daily tasks.

The tickler file is a great place to store future projects and tasks and can easily be referenced if the information is needed quickly. When you have your pile of highlighted emails (or really any upcoming projects like travel), place them in the tickler file to ensure timely completion.

To create a tickler file, follow these steps:

  1. Locate a desk drawer

    Find a desk drawer that can be devoted strictly as a tickler file. Make sure it is within easy reach from a sitting position as it will be accessed multiple times a day.

  2. Prepare hanging file folders

    Prepare hanging file folders to create the tickler. There should be one file for each day of the month and one file for each month in the year for a total of 43 folders.

  3. Print out the emails

    Print out the emails and highlight the specific tasks and the due dates of each task.

  4. File the highlighted emails according to the proper due dates

    Arrange the highlighted emails in the folders according to the proper due dates. Place any other projects that aren’t time sensitive in the file as well. Other items may include, but are not limited to, upcoming travel details, future meeting requests, and project management files that have multiple deadlines. Not only will this free up much needed real estate on a desk, but all tasks will be organized and within easy reach.