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  • how to make the tickler work better?

    Certainly, the first rule: each day, check the day's stuff, do it and be done with it!

    But, on the occasion that I have to hunt for something that I put in by date and I can't remember the date, I waste a lot of time! I have to hunt through as many as 43 "folders". And, then for some of the dates, there is a big stack to look through. Any ideas on how not to lose things in a tickler? A lot of the things I put in are what I would call "possibles" , notices of exhibtions and plays that I might want to go to, in fact I really will go to one of maybe 10 that are avialable in a 2 week period. The problem is I don't know where else to put them. If I lived in a big city I would see a lot of advertising about these with dates and time and that would cue me but here it is just my newspaper clippings and flyers that come in the mail.

    Also, I don't know what to do with what I call "ranges". I have to do certain things within a range of dates but I don't know exactly what date I will do them and and thus don't know when I will need to retrieve the item. For example, renewing the drivers license which you can do up to six weeks before expiration, if I put the form in the tickler for the first day I can do it, I will be moving it about quite a bit. And, most important I need to keep this as a calendar item and make it a next action starting on "opening day". I think maybe the second rule is that if it does not have a corresponding "hard" date on the calendar, maybe it does not belong in the tickler.

    So, I guess part of the problem is whether the tickler are being used to hold objects that "cueing devices" or "date-related reference", or if it shoud, function just as date-labelled pigeon hole?

    For example, my opera tickets are for the whole season, so I need to enter the dates in the calendar and then put the tickets in by date (pigeon hole). But what do I do with the information about the history of that opera that I want to read sometime before I go to the opera (casual read and review file?)and a list of dates about optional things that are related such as an exhibit, a lecture, a tour, and all these have reservation deadlines-- what should I do with this?
    Last edited by Jamie Elis; 04-01-2008, 09:39 AM. Reason: correction

  • #2
    I work mostly from a computer, so I just set start and end dates for things like that, so they're easy to handle and view by date, and don't show up as next actions until they need to. Which might not help you much.

    One thing I do find helpful though is make sure I include a little bit of an index in my tasks when I process my inbox, which might work for your system.

    When you're creating the task, instead of writing just "renew driver's license", maybe process it as "renew driver's license, 4/1-4/25, in 4/25 file" and leave the documentation filed by due date.

    I trust my task list a lot more when I can see that kind of information somehow.

    That can work in a someday/maybe list, or just as a note dropped into a file maybe a week before the deadline, so you'd have some advance notice, but wouldn't have to move it so many times.

    I used to do this via calendar, with an entry on the deadline and another entry just early enough before to remind me to carve out some specific time to finish something (registration for conferences, for example, which is often announced long before you can actually sign up).

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    • #3
      I had the same problem. Some people have an uncanny ability to remember these things; I don't. What I now do is to just put a note in the tickler. In cases such as opera tickets, I personally would have a folder labelled Opera-Current Season, into which I would place your tickets, programs, etc. Then I would make notes, in my case they are yellow note paper, on which I would write "select next opera" and throw it in April 20th, for example. You would then always be able to find your Opera information in your folder.

      Re car registration, I filed my paperwork in a folder "car registration." I then recorded a tickler in my calendar for December 2009. (I do a combo of paper tickler and calendar - whatever's easiest. I check both.)
      Last edited by sdann; 04-01-2008, 05:28 PM.

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      • #4
        perhaps when you have an event or activity that could be done within a date range, you put it in the first day of the range that you want to be reminded. then when you pull it out, make a decision about it and add it to the calendar, OR put in the next day that you want to be reminded.

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        • #5
          Consider an Action File instead

          I dutifully set up the 43-folder tickler file as The David recommends, when I first encountered GTD some years ago, and quickly abandoned it to go back to my prior system. It's the Action File system and I can not recall where I first read about it. It consists of 26 folders, each labeled with one letter of the alphabet. When I have a paper document that I need to act on at some future date I place it in the alphabetical folder which seems a logical place to file it under and then enter a task on my calendar or action list that points to it. For example, you might have a task on your calendar for April 15 which reads "Mail Tax Returns, AF-T". The AF-T refers to the "T" action folder, and that's where you will find the appropriate documents.

          Some of the advantages of this system are that it's easier to retrieve an item without searching through all of the date folders of the 43 Folders tickler. Usually, you can guess which letter you filed it under. (If AF-A seems to you like a reasonable place to file auto registration documents, that's usually where you'll find it.) It's faster and easier to scan through your calendar (or, in my case, task lists) than it is to search through a stack of folders. If your lists are digitized, the computer will quickly find it for you.

          Another advantage I like is that I don't have to be physically in my office to see what tickler items I need to deal with in the days ahead. All I need are my lists.

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          • #6
            One step is better than two.

            Originally posted by smithdoug View Post
            When I have a paper document that I need to act on at some future date I place it in the alphabetical folder which seems a logical place to file it under and then enter a task on my calendar or action list that points to it. For example, you might have a task on your calendar for April 15 which reads "Mail Tax Returns, AF-T". The AF-T refers to the "T" action folder, and that's where you will find the appropriate documents.
            The biggest problem people have is the discipline of putting documents in the appropriate places. The method must be straightforward to be used. Your method is two-step with calendar-to-AF link. David's method is just one step - put the document in the appropriate tickler file folder. For me it is much simpler.

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            • #7
              Advantages and Disadvantages

              Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
              Your method is two-step with calendar-to-AF link. David's method is just one step - put the document in the appropriate tickler file folder.
              True. But it takes only a few seconds, and I believe that I am more than adequately compensated bythe greater ease with which I can retrieve an item that has been placed in a tickler file and the ability to readily see what's coming in the days ahead.

              A larger issue might be that tickler items for any given day will not necessarily be located in only one folder. That's not an issue for me but it might be for someone who has several or dozens of tickler items each day. In that case, perhaps the 43 Folders solution would be the better option.

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              • #8
                Can't find stuff in my Tickler File

                [QUOTE=smithdoug;57363]the Action File system ... It consists of 26 folders, each labeled with one letter of the alphabet. When I have a paper document that I need to act on at some future date I place it in the alphabetical folder which seems a logical place to file it under and then enter a task on my calendar or action list that points to it. For example, you might have a task on your calendar for April 15 which reads "Mail Tax Returns, AF-T". The AF-T refers to the "T" action folder, and that's where you will find the appropriate documents.
                QUOTE]

                The book "To Do, Doing, Done" describes the system of action folders you mention above. I have posted several times my frustration with loosing items in my tickler file. My problem is that without fail, as soon as I put I tickets or the flyer to some future event in my tickler file, someone will mention to me that they are interested in the event and ask me if I have information or details about the event. I will then spend much more than two minutes in a very frustrated state, with mind like a perfect storm trying to locate the info.

                Dwight...

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                • #9
                  Just calm down...

                  Originally posted by carrdwight View Post
                  My problem is that without fail, as soon as I put I tickets or the flyer to some future event in my tickler file, someone will mention to me that they are interested in the event and ask me if I have information or details about the event. I will then spend much more than two minutes in a very frustrated state, with mind like a perfect storm trying to locate the info.
                  Just calm down... It's just 43 folders to look into (and even less if you remember the approximate date of the event).

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                  • #10
                    Calm Down!?!!??

                    I know that I need to calm down, but I really want to make the tickler work and I get so frustrated at not being able to remember whether I put an item in the tickler or in the reference or in the brief case to take home and ...

                    Easy... Breath....

                    Best Regards,
                    Dwight...

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                    • #11
                      Decide whether or not it can disappear for a while before you tickle the original

                      I only put items in the tickler file that I do not need or want to see until a certain date. If there's any real possibility that you or anyone else will need the item before then, it's better to file the article in a general reference file folder, write a note that includes the folder name in which you filed the original item on a separate piece of paper, and drop that note in your tickler file. That should drastically reduce the number of times you need to shuffle through your tickler file to find something. Once in a while you still may have to do this, but it's not a big deal if you don't have to do it often.
                      Last edited by ellobogrande; 04-23-2008, 08:39 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Why keep whole files, brochures, documents, etc. in the tickler, if you are constantly looking for them? Just put a note in the tickler and put the actual documents into your reference folders. Then you'll always have access to them without looking.

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                        • #13
                          Note to the Tickler, Document to the Reference File!!!

                          Originally posted by sdann View Post
                          Why keep whole files, brochures, documents, etc. in the tickler, if you are constantly looking for them? Just put a note in the tickler and put the actual documents into your reference folders. Then you'll always have access to them without looking.
                          I think that this is the answer. In fact, I think that this is exactly how Mr. David Allen described how to use the Tickler File in "GTD Fast" or somewhere.

                          Thank You,
                          Dwight...

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