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  • New GTDer - Q1

    I am about 2/3 through the GTD book. I am going to attempt the extended implementation time this weekend. I like this system because it's realistic for ALL people, not just executives. I liked 7 Habits, but I felt like it didn't allow for the actual work I get paid to do. It seemed to suggest that I delegate those hands-on tasks, but those tasks are my job!

    Anyway - my first question is - do you all use the tickler file in its suggested format (lots of folders)? I can't imagine that I will put very much in those folders, and if I do, it will be notes reminding me to add something to my NA list. I think it would work better to just write those reminders on my calendar. Has anyone else tried this? Did it work? Did it not?

  • #2
    The folders are cheap, my time is not.

    Do I use the 43 folders? - Yep.

    I treat it like a date specific inbox, with the intent that those items have to be processed that day. As opposed to my regular inbox which gets processed during the weekly review.

    What do I put in them....
    -Bills to process.
    -Greeting Cards to send
    -Permission slips to send out with the kids.
    -Those pesky gift certificates that I want to use that day (as a treat to my self).
    -Event Tickets
    -A random $20 bill as an incentive to look in the folders - thanks for the tip Merlin!
    -Agendas & minutes to review and bring to the meeting. (Yes I set one up at work.)

    Earlier, I tried to put reminders in my calendar, but Id have to include a reminder of where that object was, etc. Or worse, I'd add another layer to my system of organizing stuff (yuck). An example, For a bill I recieve, I open a bill, scan the date due, subtract five days and place in that date. Also with cards, I buy the cards for my family's birthdays & anniversaries all in one trip and add them to the month folders. This method helps to put the "hard edges" in the system by keeping the calendar as a sacred place for the Hard Landscape of my daily life. I must admit that having as few items as possible in the calendar has a liberating psychological effect (that mind like water thing) - allowing me to control more of the decisions with my time.

    It does require developing the habit to check it every day. But, once that habit is developed it becomes a very trusted part of the system and one part that requires the least amount of energy to operate and manage. Agin the mind like water feeling is a valid one, since once the item is in the folder, I truly forget about the task until I see it that day. My brain is free to work on other things...

    Good luck

    Comment


    • #3
      Tickler File

      [QUOTE=Instigase]Do I use the 43 folders? - Yep.

      ...It does require developing the habit to check it every day. But, once that habit is developed it becomes a very trusted part of the system and one part that requires the least amount of energy to operate and manage. Agin the mind like water feeling is a valid one, since once the item is in the folder, I truly forget about the task until I see it that day. My brain is free to work on other things...[QUOTE]

      I agree! I was just thinking this morning how much I LOVE my tickler system! It has simplified my life (and my lists) tremendously!

      I don't spend any time looking for things like tickets to shows or bills, or wondering if it's WATER DAY at my daughter's camp anymore - my tickler file makes sure I see those things (and more) when I need to see them - but not before!

      By all means, I say go for it! It's one of the best parts of GTD!

      Janice

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      • #4
        Tossing something in a tickler file and then handling the physical object when it pops up is so much easier than writing it on a list, seeing the item on the list later, going to your "pending file" and hunting through the file for what you need. I have been using tickler files since college and couldn't see doing without them. In fact, during my first couple of years as a teacher, my entire organization system consisted of: 1) a rudimentary month-at-a-glance calendar; 2) a memo pad in my shirt pocket; and 3) my tickler files. Every new to-do got written on a separate page in the memo pad. The sheets then went into the tickler files. Each morning, I would pull the tickler file, dump it all on the desk, and arrange the slips in the order I wanted to tackle them.

        Back then, I really didn't think about organizing things by category, but things really turned out that way on their own. Back then, I would instinctively toss file things that were errands in the folder for the coming Saturday. Bills were good candidates to be tossed in Saturday's folder. In the morning when I would arrange the little slips, I would instinctively put phone calls together, group several slips together that all involved talking to a particular person.

        Don't want this post to run too long, so if this thread turns out to be a pretty active discussion, I will chime in again on a little technique I have been using the last year or so with my ticklers that combines the best of the standard 1-31 system with the system outlined in To-Do, Doing, Done.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Frank Buck
          if this thread turns out to be a pretty active discussion, I will chime in again on a little technique I have been using the last year or so with my ticklers that combines the best of the standard 1-31 system with the system outlined in To-Do, Doing, Done.
          Do tell, Frank.

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          • #6
            I think whether a tickler file is beneficial depends in large part on the type of work you do.

            Tickler files (all 43 folders) are very useful for attorneys. In my tickler file I put all kinds of reminders and deadlines which I sort throughout the month. It is easy for paperwork to "junk" up your desk or in-box and you can eliminate that problem with judicious use of your tickler file.

            Good luck!

            Danny Hardesty

            www.dannyhardesty.com

            Comment


            • #7
              What's in your tickler file?

              Tickets and event-related materials of all kinds. In the tickler file, I know they won't get lost, plus they pop up as a timely reminder of the event.

              Reminders of Someday/Maybe events. For instance, a local theatre company sends out flyers months in advance. I don't yet know if I'll want to see their January production, so I throw the flyer in my tickler file for November or December.

              Reminders of household tasks. For a while, I was shuttling a handful of tile samples from my inbox to my tickler and back while I played phone tag with the tile guy.

              Future reading, including stuff to take on the plane on my next trip.

              Notes for my next monthly or weekly review.

              "Future inbox" items. For example, I need to start research for a particular project at the beginning of next month. (Can't do it sooner because of higher priorities.) The reminder goes in my tickler. It could go on my calendar, I guess, but I prefer to limit my calendar to true "hard landscape," like deadlines and appointments. Plus scribbling a note on a scratch pad and throwing it in the tickler file is faster.

              So yes, I find that the minimal time needed to set up the file is completely justified. Lazy people (like me!) who don't want to hand label 43 folders will discover monthly and daily accordion files at the local office supply store.

              Katherine

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              • #8
                I'm a SAHM, and though I don't have something in my tickler file every day, I have found it extremely useful. In fact, I would almost call it the single most useful tool I've learned from David. Following through at a later date was always something I've struggled with, and this helped immensely.

                It does help provide a framework for your week. I put all of the bills as I get them in the file corresponding to my husband's next payday. I have a card that says "Clean House" that goes in the tickler one week from when I last cleaned it. A lot of my "waiting for's" go in the tickler file so I don't think about them until the appropriate time to follow up (say I order something and they say it takes three to four days to ship - into the tickler the printed receipt goes).

                Bottom line - you don't have to have a file full of items every single day in order for this tool to be extremely useful.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by clh
                  Anyway - my first question is - do you all use the tickler file in its suggested format (lots of folders)? I can't imagine that I will put very much in those folders, and if I do, it will be notes reminding me to add something to my NA list. I think it would work better to just write those reminders on my calendar. Has anyone else tried this? Did it work? Did it not?
                  I think I use my tickler much like you expect to use yours -- just a little note occasionally to remind me about something. I bought a 3x5 card box and two sets of dividers -- a monthly set and a daily set. My card box is my tickler file.

                  To make sure I check it every day, it sits on the corner of my desk where I put my sunglasses each morning. It's handy, I check it, and most days I just move the divider to the next month.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    In My Tickler File...

                    Like others, I find my tickler file to be an integral part of my life. Things in my file include:

                    1. Daily/Weekly housecleaning tasks --These include tracking of how many consecutive times I've done them for motivation
                    2. Tickets to plays, concerts and auto races coming up
                    3. Printouts of info for upcoming trips filed a few days before departure
                    4. Cards from my husband given to me at anniversaries or birthdays go into every Monday and Friday -- nice way to start and end the week
                    5. Fine Cooking Magazine and new recipes go into each Saturday since I plan my weekly menus Saturday mornings
                    6. Things I see in catalogs that I'm not sure I really want go into the tickler two weeks out
                    7. Weekly review checklist and my personal mission statement goes into the next Thursday file since Thursday morning is my review time
                    8. The backup card for my PDA goes in Thursday so I have a backup of my PDA after the weekly review
                    9. Forms/envelopes for charitable organizations to make sure we keep up with our annual giving schedule
                    10. Anything that has a date attached that comes through my physical inbox that I need to be reminded about

                    As others have said, once the tickler is a habit, it's indispensable. I do a "daily review" first thing each morning to process my inbox/tickler/email, make sure I've got NA's for all of my active projects and print my NA/calendar out (I prefer crossing things off on paper to the PDA). This process has worked very well for me since I implemented it two years ago.

                    My husband now gives me stuff that he needs to be reminded about so I can "tickle" it. Time to put "@Errands - get file box and 43 folders for Steve" on the list...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I love my Tickler! It's like getting little presents every morning. I suppose if that feeling goes away, I could try the $20 bill trick.

                      Here's my variation:
                      I pay my visa bill on the 20th, so all the charity letters I get during the month go into -20-. On bill-paying day, I chose who I will donate to that month, record it, and toss the rest.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by flexiblefine
                        I bought a 3x5 card box and two sets of dividers -- a monthly set and a daily set. My card box is my tickler file.
                        Flexiblefine, what do you do with papers that are too large for the card file but have to be acted on at some future date?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Tickler files come up as a topic every so often. Seems some people can't live without them (me for one) and have all sorts of things in them. Others say they don't have anything to put in them. (Maybe they can get some ideas from these last few posts.)

                          Here is the one valid criticism I hear of tickler files: "What do I do when I need an item before the date is automatically pops up?" In other words, you want to see this document again in a couple of weeks, so you toss it in a tickler for about that far into the future. Then somebody comes along and asks you for the document, and you haven't the foggiest idea of which file it is in because the date is arbitrary.

                          Here is something I have not seen in print anywhere that I have been using for several months and has been successful. It blend the concept of the traditional 1-31 tickler file with the A-Z system outlined in To Do, Doing, Done, and eliminates the need for a separate "project support" filing system.

                          My tickler files have a dual label. They are labeled 1A, 2B, ...26Z, then 27, 28...31. In addition, they are hanging files. That way, I can put other manilla file filders inside them.

                          When I am holding a document (or folder) that is *date specific*, I look at the numbered part of the tab (the tickets for the concert on the 13th, the driving directions for the trip I am taking on the 29th, or the birthday card that needs to go in the mail on the 24th). Those last three examples would go in files 13M, 29, and 24X). Should someone ask me for the those driving directions, it wouldn't be hard to locate them. I know they are filed for the date of the trip.

                          For documents (or file folders) where the *date is arbitrary*, I think in terms of the subject of that document and look at the lettered par of the tab. The "Supply List" goes in 19S. On the 19th of the month, it pops up and becomes my cue to see if I need to duplicate more. If I do, I am holding the master copy in my hands. If sometime before the 19th I see that I need more copies and want to put my hands on it, it's a no-brainer to look in 19S because "Supply List" starts with "S."

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                          • #14
                            I've been resisting setting up a tickler file for two reasons:

                            1. When I tried it a couple of years back I couldn't discipline myself to empty it daily, especially at times when I was about to go away for a few days and had to look at, say, a whole week's worth before I went.

                            2. I was worried about not being able to find things if I might unexpectedly need them before the date they were tickled for.

                            Thanks to Frank's post I can now see a way round my second problem. I may try setting up a tickler file again, and force myself to be more disciplined to use it properly this time.

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                            • #15
                              Wow, thanks for all the tips!! Now - more questions

                              Well, OK, I guess I will give the 43 folders a try. But now this brings up another question. Do you have two sets, one at home and one at work? Or, do you keep show tickets and bills in your file at work?

                              And a semi-related question - what about "mini systems" that are already working? Example - I produce a weekly newsletter, and I have a clear plastic file on my desk labeled "reference" for things that I regularly have to look at to produce that newsletter. Now that I'm reading this, I guess this folder could be in my file drawer.
                              But, I also have a green plastic "invoices" file. I put all my received invoices in there along with a stack of blank check request forms. I fill out the forms when I collect a little stack of invoices. Sometimes it's once a week, sometimes I have no new invoices for three weeks. Having that folder in my line of sight reminds me how many invoices are there and that I need to fill out those forms. I can see how this might go against the GTD grain. How do you deal with work-related invoices?

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