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43 Folders Yes or No

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  • 43 Folders Yes or No

    I am working on setting up GTD for myself and have the following question for the more experienced among us:

    Do you find that physically creating a 43 folder filing system for reminders a valuable use of time? Or do you find using an add-on to Outlook such as GTD or Jello Dashboard negates the need for the 43 folder system?

    The reason for this question is to help me determine the best use of my resources when implementing GTD. Thanks in advance.

    Dave

  • #2
    Dave, one of the big advantages of using 43 folders for me is putting items in it that I want to see at a later date. This includes inspirational items to read, actual forms that I need to fill out at a later date. I also put 3x5 cards in my folders to remind me to do things like change the air filter on the first of the month. Some of these things can be done in Outlook, but others are easier to do with real folders.

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    • #3
      Well, I "created" my 43 folders by buying 31-slot and 12-slot accordion files. So the investment of time was pretty trivial.

      Usually the things that go in mine are either physical items -- like tickets -- or things that I haven't processed to the point of being ready to put into a more formal system. I no longer use Outlook, but even when I did I still found the tickler file useful.

      Katherine

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      • #4
        My 'creation' of the 43 folders took as long as it takes to write the numbers 1 - 31 and the months January - December on some folders. Voila, the tickler file.

        And yes, it is useful, monumentally so. I stick bills and event notices in it, notes about stuff I don't have time for right now but want to get to soon, and a whole bunch of stuff.

        Adding things to the tickler file takes about half a second, which is way less than it would take to type up the details and add it to an electronic record. I'm a big exponent of doing as little as possible.

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        • #5
          Everyone's different - it didn't work for me.

          As others have suggested the investment in time in creating a tickler file is pretty minimal. I created and tried to use one before but I found that most days when I looked in it (at the beginning of the day) there was nothing inside. This meant I started to not bother looking into it and so the system broke down.

          I find putting postdated actions in Outlook just as easy and this system hasn't broken down for me. The action just appears in Outlook which I look at every day without fail. If there is physical object associated with the action then have a sort of "general actions support material tray" (I've just invented the name!), which I put the object in and I refer to this object in the postdated action. It seems to work fine although I admit if if the tray started piling up with stuff it would be a problem.

          You just need to try different systems and find out what works for your particular workflow and personal style.

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          • #6
            My experience mirrors tominperu's. I did the 43 folders for about 6 months, and then abandoned it.

            I suspect if you are using a predominately paper system, and/or handle a lot of hard copy material, then the folders make more sense. I'm mostly digital so any recurring reminders are already automated. I also developed some bad habits where items just kept getting re-filed farther and farther back... rather than just getting them into my system (Active Support, Read & Review or S/M) or into the trash can. The final nail was that I travel a lot, often on short notice, so the fewer the files to check (or pack) the better. YMMV.

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            • #7
              My system is almost entirely digital (Outlook and PocketPC), but I do find the 43 folders to be helpful for those odd times that I need a physical piece of paper on a given day. It's also useful for parking things I just don't want to think about yet. Another thing I use it for is to park tasks that have a start date, but not a specific due date.

              Most days, my daily tickler folder is empty. This used to create a bit of apathy on my part toward checking the file on a daily basis. There were whole weeks that would go by without me checking those folders, until I started sticking my keys in the tickler file each night before I go to bed. Now I'm virtually forced to check the tickler each and every day.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by kewms View Post
                Well, I "created" my 43 folders by buying 31-slot and 12-slot accordion files. So the investment of time was pretty trivial.

                Usually the things that go in mine are either physical items -- like tickets -- or things that I haven't processed to the point of being ready to put into a more formal system. I no longer use Outlook, but even when I did I still found the tickler file useful.

                Katherine
                Why did you give up Outlook??

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                • #9
                  I went to a paper-based system. And then I bought a Mac.

                  Haven't missed it.

                  Katherine

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jknecht View Post
                    ...There were whole weeks that would go by without me checking those folders, until I started sticking my keys in the tickler file each night before I go to bed. Now I'm virtually forced to check the tickler each and every day.
                    Great tip!!

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                    • #11
                      I too am mainly digital, but find the Tickler a good place to keep paper that refers to some of my lists. I have a tickler at home and at work and i think I probbaly make more use of the home one that the work one. The discipline is then checking it.

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                      • #12
                        My experience is similar to that of tominperu and notmuch. My boss gave me those two accordion files about 17 years ago, but I gave it up after several months, because I couldn't find anything in it when I needed it. Decided to write the items in my calendar and keep the papers in project binders.

                        After starting with GTD several years ago, I re-activated those two accordion files four times, but finally gave up on them. Now I keep the papers in binders and folders and write the items in my diary to keep my calendar free from clutter.

                        On the other hand I know assistants who use the accordion files and it works great for them. They have made those two accordion files a central part of their systems and have the habit of maintaining it painstakingly.

                        Rainer

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Rainer Burmeister View Post
                          because I couldn't find anything in it when I needed it.
                          This is IMHO the one unsolvable downside of the 43 folders: when you need a document that is somewhere in the tickler... How to find it?

                          However, I can imagine a tickler-file as the central tool for nearly the whole system. For instance imagine you work in a workshop and all paperwork you need to do are some technical forms and bills. Then you just shuffle the paperload in the tickler around. More organization would not be needed.

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                          • #14
                            43 Folders Yes or No

                            I use both.

                            I have 12 hanging files labled Jan - Dec and 31 tabs (from staples) which go into the current month. I use when there is a physical item such as tickets or printed travel and accommodation details which I prepare during the previous review (I travel frequently).

                            In my Mindmanager action list I have a section which has the same sections as branches and that is where I make a note of things such as flea treat the dog, the sign up window for my next distance learning course and also when I want to kick start one of my non-current projects (someday/maybe).

                            Sharon

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
                              This is IMHO the one unsolvable downside of the 43 folders: when you need a document that is somewhere in the tickler... How to find it?
                              If you were going to need it, why did you put it in the tickler in the first place? I only use my tickler for things I'm unlikely to need before the tickler date.

                              Katherine

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