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  • Small (3 x 5) Portable Tickler

    Hi everybody, I have been thinking about why I often forget to check my tickler file. Putting a note on my desk and other reminders to check my tickler didn't work, although the tickler was close by, just a chair swirl away. My desk is just the right size for everything else that I need to work except the tickler (an Everyday Sorter). I thought if the tickler resided on the desk and was right in front of me I'd check it each morning. I didn't want a bigger desk, I wanted a tickler that would fit but I'd still have room to spread work out. And I wanted something easy to carry with me (I don't always work at my desk).

    I thought about an index box with card dividers, that I read about somewhere. But I like the idea of folders for holding things that need to get moved around.

    So I'm trying out this tickler file: I made 43 3" x 5" folders. These are regular folders I cut down to size with a Rototrim. One folder makes two 3x5 folders. (I saved the discards for notes and bookmarks). I know Levenger sells this size and everything I've bought from them has been good quality, but theirs were too costly for this project, especially as my trial version.

    Each monthly folder has a label I printed with my labeller and inserted in an Avery 1" plastic stick on label. The monthly labels are staggered with no overlap so they do not add bulk. There is a gap in the middle of the rows of monthly labels so I can put a rubber band around the whole tickler file. This allows the tickler to stand up on my desk. (I would not recommend just a rubber band for transport though, it might break). I decided not to put plastic labels on the daily folders, it seemed too cumbersome in such a very small space, and having labels just on the months make them stand out well so the right month is easy to find (and it's also easy to target the back of the daily folders when moving the front folder).

    Each daily folder has a number label on the upper right front. I can hold the entire tickler file in my hands and flip through it with my thumb to find a particular day.

    With this tickler, things much larger than 3 x 5 are not going to fit. Most of my tickler items are on index cards or little notes but some items are too big. So I made a letter-size folder called "Tickler File Items", that I keep handy (it's with my Waiting for, Someday/Maybe folders, etc.) Right now it just has a couple of birthday cards (with corresponding notes in the tickler file when to send), and some envelopes for various charities (I have a monthly charity list that stays in the tickler file). If it looks like I need more room for large tickler items, I'm thinking I can add more folders, maybe monthly ones. That's my concern right now -- is it worth it to have the large tickler items separate from the tickler file? I guess I'll find out!

    So anyway I thought I'd try it out. I put a tickler note for a month from now to report back here on the forum how this little tickler file is working out and if it's encouraged me to use a tickler file consistently. So if you don't hear back from me in a month ... well that will be an answer in itself

  • #2
    Thanks for sharing your creative approach. I have a few comments.

    1) The key to a working tickler is forming the habit of checking it EVERY DAY. If not, the tool just plain won't matter. So I'd say focus on a behavioral change first. There are many resources about forming new habits. This one might help:

    Installing a new habit and breaking an old one
    http://www.stephanieburns.com/articl...le06_habit.asp

    Also, you might create a daily check-list with "process next day's tickler" on it, along with "brush teeth," etc. Whatever it takes!

    2) I think it's important for the tickler to be normal sized folders or pockets - 8 1/2" x 11" in the US. That's because many papers you want to tickle can simply be dropped into the file. If you're using a smaller sized folder (3x5, say) then you'll have to create and drop place-holders instead of the real McCoys, which will slow you down.

    3) An alternative to the tickler is the "Calendar + Holding file" method. This works for a volume of up to ~5 pieces per day max. You simply make a note about the item in your calender (in the non-timed part of the page/screen if possible), and put the paper in question into a file labeled "Hold." More in Stephanie Winston's books...

    It'll be interesting to hear how it works for you.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for the feedback, Cornell, so far I've got mostly small items in my tickler--index cards with reminders on them, the little printouts from the library when books are due, things like that, but as I start using it more I may need to to go a larger format, I'll see how it goes next few weeks. Marcia

      Comment


      • #4
        Software Tool for Habit Building / Breaking

        Marcia, you wrote:

        I have been thinking about why I often forget to check my tickler file. Putting a note on my desk and other reminders to check my tickler didn't work….

        And Cornell wrote in his reply:

        The key to a working tickler is forming the habit of checking it EVERY DAY. If not, the tool just plain won't matter. So I'd say focus on a behavioral change first….

        …You might create a daily check-list with "process next day's tickler" on it, along with "brush teeth," etc. Whatever it takes!


        This is where I think TraxItAll (www.TraxItAll.com) would help; it’s a Palm OS software product I market and it provides a very simple way to use your Palm to help you build up this (or any other) habit.

        Basically, TraxItAll does three types of tracking: “Count,” “Yes/No,” and “Average.” If you wanted to record whether or not you checked your tickler file you would just create a “Yes/No” track—you could name it “Tickler File”—and then tap the square each day to indicate “Yes” I checked it or “No” I didn’t. Over time TraxItAll’s reports will show you how well you’re doing. You can use it in the same way for any habit you want to build up or break down.

        The product intro here: Flash Intro. You can download a free 30-day trial copy here: Free Trial.

        -- David

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks, David. I read somewhere there is an average number of iterations before something becomes a daily habit, like about twenty or thirty or something. Anyway, I'm finding this little tickler is a good visual cue, seeing the date on the front folder easily, and having it right by my calendar (a Staples spiral pocket calendar, I keep open to the current week), so they both get me thinking about what needs to be done that day.

          Comment


          • #6
            7-Tab Folders

            I'd like to find folders which have 7 tabs, rather than 3 or 5. This would make it possible to label the folders with the date falling on the same tab throughout the month. Has anyone seen 7-tab folders anwyere?

            Comment


            • #7
              if you wanted to make 7 tabs out of five, you could take two folders with tabs in the left position and cut each tab in half. Cut away the left half on one and the right half of the other. combined with the rest of the tab positions, this would give you 6 tabs. Repeat with another tab position to get to 7. The 7 tabs will not all be the same size.

              You could also do this with straight cut folders and get all the tabs the same size with a lot more work.

              Comment


              • #8
                spectecGTD, what about the stick on, plastic tab labels, you can place them anywhere you like. I used the Avery 26088 on my tickler folders.

                Comment


                • #9
                  For anyone interested in setting up an index card tickler with tabbed dividers in an index card file box, I noticed that Office Max has the tabbed dividers available with 1-31 and Jan-Dec. It makes it very quick and easy to set up a tickler system just by opening two packages. They are a little more expensive than I was expecting, but for $12, you can get both sets of tabs and a plastic file box and save lots of time. The tabs are laminated with green 1/3 cut for the months and orange 1/5 cut for the dates.

                  They also carry a small, very portable plastic case, sized to hold about 50 cards and slip easily into a purse or large pocket (probably one inch thick). Probably just big enough to hold a tabbed tickler system if you want it very portable (may be a bit crowded). The regular box would be easier to work with on a desk. It would also be a possible container for a thick hipster PDA.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I agree with the other posters who said (in effect) that you can't solve a process/habit issue by adapting new tools to the same lack of process/habit. If your tickler file isn't working for you, the first place I'd attack is the habit of checking the tickler every day. Then, and only then, can you fairly assess whether or not you have a tool problem.

                    David Allen said (I think on one of the GTD Fast! CDs) that one of his staff built the tickler habit by randomly burying $20 bills in his tickler, and giving himself permission to spend them when they surfaced. I've been doing the same with Starbucks gift cards and the like, and that's working well. (I'm also in the midst of a digital>analog conversion for my system, so now's a good time to reinforce the habit for me.)

                    Perhaps attacking the habit of checking the tickler might be a better place to start than attacking the tool side of things.

                    -- Tammy

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      after 4 weeks of ticklers...

                      Thank you, Tammy. I think it's working really well for me to have a visual cue by having the tickler on my desk next to my calendar. I check the calendar first then the tickler. I spread out all the notes and reminders from the day's ticklers on my desk and then group them into contexts.

                      One thing I have changed since my first post on this topic is that I realized I didn't need a separate place for tickler items that don't fit in the small folders. I now keep them in my action folder and make a note on the tickler reminder to check the action folder.

                      Here is a Portable Tickler File picture.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by marcia View Post
                        I put a tickler note for a month from now to report back here on the forum how this little tickler file is working out and if it's encouraged me to use a tickler file consistently. So if you don't hear back from me in a month ... well that will be an answer in itself
                        Well, I guess that settles it.

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