Tickler file woes

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by sellaz32, Mar 2, 2019.

  1. sellaz32

    sellaz32 JamieS

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    I got bit by the GTD bug over 3 years ago and it has been life changing. One aspect that keeps tripping me up is the tickler file. I have 43 folders set up both at work and at home, but I can not seem to get into the habit of checking it everyday or even regularly. I tried putting a reminder on my phone, but I just got numb to that over time.

    Interestingly, I don't put things in the tickler system very much either. I am not sure if that is because I don't have faith that I will check it, or that I don't check it because I don't put things in it...chicken or egg dilemma I guess you could say.

    I do use a tickler for digital materials and other reminders, but it's the "not ready to act on" misc paper "stuff" that is creating drag I think.

    Any tips on this?

    Thanks!

    Jamie
     
  2. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I've been facing the same thing, partly because less and less paper comes in that I need in my tickler. I've taken to putting the GTD methodology guides that I use at each weekly review in the tickler and then when I do my weekly review I pull all the papers out of the tickler for the next week and put them in my inbox. I then process them over the next day or so. Of course that means that if I can't do anything about the tickler item until part way through the week that my inbox isn't completely empty but it's better than missing one. Each time I pick up the tickled paper in the inbox I go through the physical motions of filing it where it goes, and trying to train myself that I should have looked there first. It's slowly working, I find myself at weekly review with no missed items and I am checking the paper tickler on average about 4 out of every 7 days in the morning, which is an improvement. I figure at this rate I'll be ok with the tickler and checking it regularly in spite of the small volume in another month or so.

    One advantage I found, my tickler file is a combined one I've had for years and it's got 2 holes in the "folders". That makes it really easy to see if you've missed a paper. It also makes it faster to see what is coming up.
     
  3. thomasbk

    thomasbk Registered

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    When I started GTD a bought a set of tickler folders and barely used them. It turned out paper played a tiny role in my life at best. Maybe instead of trying to force yourself to check it every day, try to migrate those items to digital where your system is working.
     
  4. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

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    Maybe put more of that stuff into General Reference and add a reminder to Someday/Maybe about it?

    If you put Someday/Later materials into the Tickler File, the idea should be that something in the meantime happens which will then facilitate a decision to process and action the stuff. It should not be a collection bin for "too lazy to process now".

    Regarding the discipline of checking the Tickler File, let me make a suggestion.

    Have a checklist with a box for each day of the month and re-tickle that one daily. Everyday you did check the Tickler File you also mark off that day on your checklist. Make it a game you can win!

    Also, populate the Tickler File with fun stuff: printed out quotes, notes to self, jokes etc Did your SO say something awesome to you today? Put it in the Tickler File and remind you both of it in, say, ten days or so…
     
  5. sellaz32

    sellaz32 JamieS

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    I have that one listed as a long term goal....maybe even a 5 year vision...

    Seriously though... These are some great suggestions. I think ultimately paper plays a smaller role for me...but it doesn't take much in terms of random pending paper "stuff" to pull on my attention.
     
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  6. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    I've never set up paper tickler folders. My "ticklers" are all electronic reminders, and on the rare occasion that there's a paper involved that doesn't have a well established home (for example, I know where I always put my incoming tax documents), I note the location of the paper in the reminder.
     
  7. David Parker

    David Parker GTD Connect

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    As a Todoist user, I've set up a Tickler Project and every Next Action that goes into the Tickler Project starts with "[TICKLER]" then the action, and has a Due Date (1st of the month if it's anytime that month etc.).

    By default, digital Tickler is assumed, otherwise it gets the @Tickler Context to remind me it's in my physical Tickler.

    I have a recurring daily Next Action to check my Tickler Project.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
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  8. sellaz32

    sellaz32 JamieS

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    I use Todoist as well, and have a tickler project, but for some reason had not thought about setting a digital reminder in Todoist to check the physical tickler file. This just might be the solution. I don't use daily reminders for anything because I've found I ten to get numb to them, but I could set specific date reminders to check it. Thanks!
     
  9. Geeko

    Geeko GTD since 2017

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    I use a paper planner both personal and professional so the tickler file is my best friend ;)
    But I must admit that it’s hard for me to check it daily. At work it’s very simple: I empty my tickler file while my PC boots up. So building a habit absolutely helps. And you need to build a habit to gain trust in your tickler file. And you need that trust to get the confidence to put something into your tickler file at all.
    I still think it is one of the best and easiest systems to remind you of day-specific items.

    Cheers,
    Tristan
     
  10. John Forrister

    John Forrister Moderator Staff Member

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    Putting fun stuff in the tickler could help. Years ago David Allen suggested putting cash at random places in the tickler file. Then you have "found money" to look forward to.
     
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  11. John Ismyname

    John Ismyname Registered

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    I have this on my a @ AM ROUTINE check-list that I start when I get up in the morning. Everyday, I move the contents of my folder for that day and my paper inbox onto my desk and go through it. If I don't do this, certain things I should be doing everyday literally get forgotten.
     
  12. Jared Caron

    Jared Caron Registered

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    I set up a tickler file about 6 months ago at work... and i'm mostly digital.

    Now I cant really imagine living without it. I even will drop personal tickler items in my 'to office' folder to bring to my office tickler file. I would highly recommend only maintaining 1 - its hard enough to remember to empty 1 of them :)

    Even though Im mostly digital, much of the paper I work with doesn't necessarily become useful until later - info for future meetings, documents to review with a certain person, reminders of what to bring where...

    I would try to experiment with various types of items. and really commit to emptying it every day.

    as was mentioned, try to use a daily checklist and incorporate that into an already established morning habit. Such as getting your first cup of coffee or something. I have to unlock my desk drawers in the morning (confidential info inside...) so I just make it part of that - one smooth motion.
     
  13. Violet

    Violet Registered

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    I don’t understand why you would force yourself to get into the habit of checking a folder you hardly use. Better to put things in the places where you already look, surely.
     
  14. Jared Caron

    Jared Caron Registered

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    Reading this again, I noticed you said you have 2 tickler files. I recently tried setting one up at home and it was an utter failure. I just put home stuff to tickle in my "to office" folder with a post it that says something like 'tickle for May' for instance. I use just 1 tickler file. Makes it much easier to remember emptying it. However, i do more than 90% of my processing at work, so this works out for me.
     
  15. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    Maybe. Although I had to "force [myself] to get into the habit" of doing a lot of things in order to implement GTD. For instance, I used to just leave actionable emails in my inbox because that was a place where I "already look[ed]." Recording actions in a next actions list -- and then looking at those lists frequently -- didn't come naturally to me at first. Now it does. I've found a lot of benefit in forcing myself to change my habits to accommodate GTD in my life.

    Adopting the tickler file was a similar learning curve for me. It didn't come naturally at first and I rarely put anything in it. Once I got into the habit of using it, though, I found uses for it I hadn't thought of initially. It's now an indispensable part of my GTD practice.
     
  16. Geeko

    Geeko GTD since 2017

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    I consider my tickler file as a physical mailbox for stuff I want to mail to myself on a specific day. That declutters your calendar and it is great to receive forms or reminders just the day you need them. And you can make emptying your tickler file the same habit as emptying your physical mailbox.
    It is just important that you see an advantage in doing that. In the beginning it was hard for me to build that habit (and it still is for my tickler file at home) but now I enjoy the mental freedom it gives me. Getting that to work will take some time, but it is absolutely worth the effort.

    Cheers,
    Tristan
     

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