Thursday, July 21, 2016

3 Keys Thursday: 3 Keys to Creating a Tickler File that Just Might Work

Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
Yes, I know. I spent yesterday's post dissecting the reasons a tickler file doesn't work for me.

A traditional tickler file, that is.

But, I've also spent many posts detailing how any tool can work if we adapt it to our styles. We are the keepers of our containers, and we can adjust them accordingly. Thinking a tickler file might be for you? Here are a few things to consider before you get started.

What's going in it? I chose to use my tickler file to house all the stuff that ends up all over my desk. As an I need to see it person, I like keeping my current projects as visible as possible, but I wanted a tidier way to do it. Labeled, color/pattern-coded file folders give me the visual cues I need, and if I put all the folders together, tucked into one solid color folder, still within view, my desk looks a lot better. Honestly? This is an experiment that's taking me a little out of my comfort zone and that will require me to develop some new habits. I'll keep you posted.

What will you use? I intentionally chose an accordion file with 31 sections to illustrate yesterday's post, but a tickler file can consist of individual file folders, 31 (or more) files in a file cabinet or 31 (or less) sections in a binder. Your styles, how much space you have and what you want to put into the tickler file should be your guide.

How will you subdivide? My friend who introduced me to the tickler file liked day-by-day storage, but I prefer to divide by projects. Others may choose to label the subdivisions: to do, to buy, to call, etc. I love to be busy folks may want to subdivide by activity while I love stuff folks may choose the container first and subdivide later.

Subdivisions should be style-friendly, too. As an I need to see it person, I need visual cues, so although I tuck all my folders into one black folder for aesthetic reasons (I store it where it can be seen), I make sure the folders inside are colorful, patterned and/or labeled. Cram and jammers may prefer fewer subdivisions, since their natural tendency is to put everything in one place.

Although all of us need to decide on consistent homes for our tickler files, I know I put it somewhere organizers will need to be sure their subdivisions are clear and as mutually exclusive as possible, while drop and run organizers might choose the simplicity and one-step filing of an accordion file.

See that black folder peeking out?
That's my tickler file.
This pocket hangs right in my line of vision.
Barb's comments yesterday reminded me of one more key: a tickler file shouldn't be home to every single piece of paper you get. My friend's tickler file held things like concert tickets and boarding passes. Mine holds projects in progress and things I need to access quickly and often, and/or need to act on. An overstuffed tickler file defeats the purpose.

Think back to the basic concepts of homes and locations. What is your tickler file a good home for? More specifically, what paper storage problem can it solve for you?

If you decide to try the tickler file, I'd love to hear from you about your success and stresses. No judgment here -- I'm trying out my own new-and-improved tickler file, and fully expect stresses among the successes. Maybe we can solve them together.

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