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Tickler file as described by DA

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  • Tickler file as described by DA

    I'm new to GTD - I've only been using it for a couple weeks now. I've implemented most of DA's suggestions, with great success. One thing that I haven't implemented, though, is the tickler file.

    I can see where this setup would be helpful, but only for a very few items. It doesn't seem that I would get too much use out of it. For those of you who do use a tickler file, for either personal or professional use, could you please explain how you use it? Specifically, what things do you put in it?

    I'm hoping input from others will help me to evaluate whether I want to set up something similar.


  • #2
    Okay, I'll give it a shot...
    I have found the Tickler files to be very helpful. I use them for my personal and volunteer commitments. I'll start with the months...I love having a place to put the random info that comes in. Some examples:
    * I'm visiting my parents during Spring Break and came across an article that had some interesting kid places to visit near where they live. I stuck this in my April Tickler file.
    * Ideas for my son's birthday party go in the July file. Ideas for my daughter's party in the January file. When it gets closer they get their own temporary file, but I don't like to have a tons of files.
    * April has a flier for Earth Day activities.
    * May has a flier for a 1-day enrichment program that my son might be interested in. It also has a form that is due in June.
    * June has fun summer kid activities.
    * Sept has a United Way flier that I need to distribute to local companies for my volunteer org.
    * October has some Halloween costume ideas.
    * November has an article about a new test (Vertical Auto Profile) for cholesterol that I want to see if my Doctor will do when I go for my annual exam. (This actually worked great in 2003. I had just implemented GTD and in my November file was an article about C-Reactive Protein, a blood test for heart disease indicators. I took it with me to my appt and my doctor ran the test. In the past, I didn't have any way of remembering to do this.)

    Some of these could have their own file, but then I probably wouldn't go to the trouble of digging out the file.

    My daily files (1-31) are used for various things:
    * info that I need to pass on, like an article for someone that I'm going to see at church or Bunco would be in the file for the date of that event
    * my referral form (gotta love managed-care; not!) would go in the file for the date of my doctor's appt
    * directions or info on an event I'm attending goes in the file for that date

    Most of my daily files are empty, so it really is quick to go thru it. But the days when I have something there really is no other easy place to keep the stuff. (That misc stack can get pretty high.)

    Hope this helps!


    • #3
      My number one use is for bills. Bills get opened, verified, and filed in the tickler to "arrive" 8 days before the due date, when they get paid.

      In these days of the $35 late fee, my tickler file is priceless.

      Any other paperwork I'll want on a specific future date goes in the tickler, too. Shows up right on time.



      • #4
        Yo, dudes, this is the secret cult stuff...

        Gotta say, tickler file is one of those things, like the labeler, that embeds the myterious secret magical power of a way-cool simple little structure that can add serious value to your life and work. Pay attention to the previous posts on this. I use it still for hundreds of things of like quality and interest and potential value. Nothing else does the trick...



        • #5
          Tickler & A/R

          I set one up at work for my secretary to keep up with bills and Accounts/Receivables.

          Customers who make payments have a folder in the alphabet system and is sorted by last name. Underneath their name is penciled in a number that thier payment is due. A payment card (with name and the day of the month it is due at top) is then placed in the 1-31. The payment card continues to move into the next day until it is paid. Once it is paid it is recorded on the card and placed back in the number at the top of the card. If a customer sends in a payment weeks before it is due, and I don't know what day it is due, I simply look thier name up in the alphabet section. Underneath their name is the number it should be stored in.

          At home I use it for bills and "Read Sometime" magazines.



          • #6
            tickler file as described by DA

            Most of my office stuff is electronic, and I have little need for it at work.
            However, it really is useful for home things in my life.

            If you think you might not need a big file in a drawer, consider an "Everyday File" from Globe-Weis. It's a self-contained file/sorter thing with 1-31 tabs and tabs for January-December. It sits on my home desk - it isn't folders in the filing cabinet. I get mine at a big office chain store.

            I don't use it all that often, but it is very handy when I do have things I've got to get my hands on.



            • #7
              question on how many ticklers to have me, spouse, house, etc


              Hubby and I were listening to the DA tapes. We understand about seperate workspaces and inboxes. Although that just came to us. We had what we thought was an inbox that was really a collection box.

              Anyway, we set up a tickler for us (household, combined life) but now we question whether we each need our own tickler. We both have the same home base (home)

              Another verification question -- inbox is stuff that NEEDs to still be processed.

              Any advice in this area would be appreciated.



              • #8
                I second the Everyday File. It's about the size of a notebook so it doesn't take up alot of space. When I leave a the end of the day, I put it in my desk so there's nothing cluttering it up. It's great and only about $18.


                • #9
                  I have been using tickler files my entire adult life. (I first saw the idea as a little kid--my dad was a one-man law firm and used tickler files religously. I actually used to think he thought up the idea!)

                  For a while, the tickler file was my entire organizational system. A kept a memo pad in my pocket. I would jot each task to be completed on a different sheet. On a daily basis, I would tear out the used sheets, make decisions on when iI wanted to accomplish them, and drop them in the appropraite files.

                  If I tasks that repeated, the sheet would include the task and then instructions for when to refile the sheet for when it should pop up again.

                  For projects, I would take a whole sheet of paper,list all of the steps as best I could, assign a date to each step, and file the sheet for the date the first task needed to be completed. Through the life of the project, that piece of paper would continue to reappear on exactly the day I had planned to complete the next task, and would then disappear until time to do the next one.

                  I rely on my Palm (synced to Outlook) to keep up with all of the things I used to jot on a memo pad, but the tickler file is still essential for the things that show up as something physical:
                  1) I plan out a series of inspirational messages for my students (I am a school principal) to read over the intercom to start the day. I get a while bunch of them lined up at one sitting, and then throw then in the tickler file to pop up on the appropriate dates.
                  2) I buy birthday cards for the whole year at one time. At one sitting, I address them all, put on all of the return address stickers, and (in the spot where I will later stick the stamp) pencil in the date the card needs to go in the mail. I sort them all into the tickler file and forget about them. Each card pops up on the day it needs to be mailed.
                  3) As bills come in during the week, they get thrown into Saturday's file. On Saturday, there they all are, and we handle them all at one time.

                  These are just three examples of using tickler files to "batch" similar items. I could go on for days. For the past half a dozen or so years, I have been doing workshops on time management and organization for educators around Alabama. Particpants I run into months (or years) later keep pointing to the tickler file as the thing that made the biggest change in their lives.



                  • #10
                    Okay, I'm convinced!

                    I set up a tickler file at work this past week, and initially there was very little in it. But during my weekly review Friday I ended up moving a lot of items to my tickler file - reminders about upcoming birthdays, routine information, reminders to check on the release locations for a movie coming out next month, etc.

                    I'm finding there are things in there that it just doesn't make sense to put anywhere else.

                    Thanks for the replies.


                    • #11
                      Tickler Files

                      At work, I have one physical "tickler" file, and I create dated tasks in Outlook for the reminder with a note to find the physical item in the tickler file.

                      We're still working on our home office setup, but already I'm noticing that a physical tickler file will be needed. Thanks to people for suggesting the pre-defined box portfolio - I suspect that will be just the ticket for us.



                      • #12
                        I use an "Everyday File" at work. I've now decided that I need one at home also.


                        • #13
                          i'd like to find the 'everyday file' here in australia but i don't think such a beast exists. if anyone has found one let me know please !!!
                          i set up a plastic 'box' with hanging files in it - i've experimented with electronic and just one physical file but i've gone back to the jan-dec 1-31 system and i'm happiest with this method.
                          the hanging files do take up a bit of space but i like the fact that they can hold more than just bits of paper and work stuff.... dog worming tablets from the vet that are in an envelope and i dont know where to keep them - put them in the due date.... cd's that i need to give back to a friend i'm having lunch with in two days time.... all kinds of things seem to fit in there and i like it!!
                          i've adapted the idea quoted by DA on his getting things done FAST cd's - random 20 dollar notes to encourage daily checking.... i put a 50 dollar note in the next three 'tuesday's dates' because i never have the right money on hand when the cleaner arrives at midday tuesday.... now i think i'll throw it in there once a month ....
                          sometimes i even get ahead of myself.... i was quoted a sports comp fee for my son on the phone last night for tennis which starts in two weeks. i went and wrote the cheque out immediately and put it in the tickler for the day of the first game...
                          YES i can see the value of the tickler....
                          great tool..... cheers Helen


                          • #14
                            Tickler file contradicts GTD?

                            In the past I've avoided creating a tickler file because I felt if I needed to be reminded of something on a certain day, I could just put it in my calendar/tasklist and then grab whatever I needed from a single "action" or project folder. I understand that having a physical object pop up on a certain day might be more motivational rather than digging through a large, repulsive stack of "stuff".

                            But the more I've thought about it, I've wondered, "Isn't a ticker file essentially a daily task list?" In other words, if we shouldn't assign dates to certain tasks unless that *have to* get done on a certain day, why is it so great to pick a day for a piece of paper that represents a task unless it *must* be done that day?



                            • #15
                              I think I misused the Tickler File originally. The GtD book refers to a Tickler File for "Incubated" items that you want to pop up some time in the future so you can give them some attention at the right times. I tried to use the Tickler File for date-sensitive items, but I think now that these items belong either in Project Support files or in a single Calendar Action File in chronological order. It does seem to be a bit of a waste to have 43 files dedicated to incubated items, but if it works....I guess that stuff needs to be kept somewhere. I'm using envelope folders in a narrow desktop hanging files basket (no hanging folders).

                              C - I think that strictly-speaking there's no such thing as a daily task list in GtD. In fact, DA goes to great pains to describe the lists as "Action Reminders", rather than ToDo's. Personally, I don't react well to ToDo lists, mainly because I like to work towards outcomes and I don't feel good about hopping around discrete little items, but intellectually I can manage the idea of Action Reminders pointing to Projects and thinking about proceeding with Projects. It took me a while to get the hang of this idea because I got suckered by looking at the top of the page/PDA screen, where it says "ToDo" - but I think that GtD works better if you think of items not as "ToDo's" but as steps towards outcomes. This, I think, is one of the major benefits of having Processed fully and being able to relate Action Reminders to desired outcomes.

                              Of course, this may sound irrelevant to anyone who is comfortable with going down a ToDo list and knocking stuff off and scoring it done.