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Tickler File question

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  • Tickler File question

    Was thinking about doing the 43 folders setup but was resistant to it for some reason and then I think I realized where that resistance came from and now I think I may have a modified solution that might well fit my workflow. Wanted to bounce my thinking off you guys.

    I’ve posted on another thread about my workflow, about how many of my NAs have due dates. Essentially I'm using OmniFocus both as my NA repository and as a digital tickler file. Works great for me (most of the time). What I do is keep a folder both at home and at the office called “Action”. If it’s something I'm going to act on, like a bill I need to pay, something I need to review and act on, etc..., it goes in there. Then when I see that task show up requiring me to act on it today, I go to the action file and know I'll find what I need. Works fine.

    Except, I'm starting to get materials that won’t require action for several months. Just got one yesterday that requires I act in 9/10. I don’t want that cluttering up my action folder. I guess it should be more appropriately named “imminent actions”. So I think the 43 folder setup would be helpful here.

    But, I don’t want to be reviewing each day’s folder for items of what to work on that day. I’d rather have that stuff in my action folder. I know if I used the 43 folders setup as specified I'd probably stop using it after going a few days in a row checking the folder and finding it empty for that respective day. So, here’s the compromise process I’m considering:

    I setup the month folders but not the day ones. I’d put the action I referenced above in the September folder. When the new month rolled around I would take anything in that (now) current month’s folder and put it into my Action folder so I just look there for my actions, knowing I have date-related placeholders in OmniFocus to drive me there on the appropriate day, and then I move that month’s Tickler file back to the back of the 12 files. So now, instead of 43 folders I have 13, the 12 months and then this month’s actions with digital placeholders for all of it.


  • #2
    You did what I'd suggest. If you find that your imminent file gets too big, then you can split it.


    • #3
      I'm sure someone with more experience will be along to share their thoughts, but my initial thoughts were (1) why not try it and see if it works for you; and then (2) are you sure that you'll remember to check it monthly?

      I've been doing the Tickler files for almost ten years (although I only heard about GTD about a year ago) and I've gone through phases, like you, where I don't check it because I "know" there isn't anything in there. I know that for me if I reduced my habit of looking in the tickler from daily to monthly, I would never use it. But I got into the daily habit and now I rely on the tickler for all my time-related paper and cannot imagine not having it there in my desk.

      So if you can find some way of triggering yourself to look in the file on the first of the month (or the first work day of the month, if it's at work) then this could work for you.


      • #4
        thanks Malisa.

        Siobhan, it’s a valid and understandable concern but I'll have a fail safe. Remember that per my process, for everything I physically put into a month’s tickler folder I'll have a corresponding digital entry with a date associated with it, so worst case scenario is I forget to check that next month’s stuff, then something comes up in OmniFocus that drives me back to the paper I have stored there. At that point I go “oops, forgot to move it into action” and then I do so.

        Will probably set it up this way and give it a go and see what happens.