One couple trying to create an organized and happy home, despite their two different perspectives.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Tickler File System - Tickle your memory
Scott read about the tickler file system, in Getting Things Done (by David Allen), and has been using it ever since.
It is a simple and effective, and will cost you the price of 43 file folders.
We use this system for anything we need to remember during the month.
A long-time standby in the productivity realm, a tickler file is a reminder system intended to act as an adjunct to your regular calendaring and scheduling system. Although there are several different kinds of tickler file, the most well-known (thanks largely to David Allen’s Getting Things Done and Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders) is the 43-folders system, with 31 numbered “day” folders and 12 labeled with the months of the year.
The idea is quite simple: anything you need reminded of on some future date goes into your tickler file. Every morning, that day’s folder is pulled out and the contents placed into your inbox, and whatever you placed there days, weeks, or months earlier is right at hand when you need it.
The 43-folder setup makes it possible – easy, even – to set reminders for up to a year in advance. Each numbered folders stands in for a day of the month. Behind them, all the folders labeled with the months are arrayed, with next month’s folder in front. So, since today is September 5th, you would see folder 5 at the front, followed by 6-31, then October through next September. When I empty today’s folder, I’ll place it at the back of the numbered folders, leaving “6” standing ready to be pulled out tomorrow.
At the end of the month, the October folder is opened and its contents placed into the appropriate numbered days, and the emptied folder is placed at the back of the months. This creates a rolling cycle of folders, presenting each morning the folder with that day’s contents in it.
What goes into the folders is up to you, but clearly anything dated is a good candidate: bills, invoices, dated material to send out, concert and show tickets, travel documents, and so on. Other items you know you’re going to need on a specific day can also be added, such as your passport on the day when you will be flying out of the country, or your checkbook for bill-paying day.
Recurring events you want to remind yourself of – like watering the plants every three days – can be written onto index cards. You empty your folder into your inbox, process the inbox, see the reminder, water the plants, and place the card into whatever the date will be three days later.
Used consistently, a tickler file can become an important part of your “outboard brain”, popping stuff up for you when you need it, and keeping it out of the way when you don’t. In today’s all-high tech all the time world, it’s even a little reassuring: simple, decidedly low-tech, and effective.
Common uses for the tickler file system: birthday cards, church donations, bills, invitations, warranty expirations, event tickets (put them in the folder on the day you will attend, so they do not get lost), phone calls to return, travel itineraries, maintenance reminders, hotel reservations, coupons, appointments, children's events....you get the idea.
We even use this system for mail. Let's say I get the mail today, and there is a letter for Scott...I do not want to just put it down somewhere, he may not see it for a few days...and I am sure I will forget to tell him about it (Scott knows how forgetful I am). So, I just place it in todays file, and he can open it when he checks the file. The same goes with phone calls for him.
NOW...if you already have a filing system and family calendar system that works for you, you may not need to create this tickler system...all you need to do is record a reminder on your calendar for the thing you will keep in your filing system.