Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Not Tickled
I first heard of a tickler file over a decade ago. Linda, then the librarian in the school where I worked, told me about her tickler file, consisting simply of a file folder for each day of the month. As she accumulated papers and information, Linda would simply file them into the appropriate folder and they'd be there waiting for her when she needed them.

A file folder for every day of the month sounded a bit overwhelming to me, and, as an I need to see it person, I was afraid that out of sight would be out of mind and I'd miss deadlines. Still, I liked the idea in principle, so I adapted it, creating a tickler file that had a file folder for each day of the week. That way, I'd have the opportunity to see things that were coming up every time I opened the file for that day of the week.

I used that tickler file every time I cleaned my desk, duly filing things that needed to be done into their appropriate folders. Then, I'd use it for a day or two -- maybe a week -- before I abandoned it for more visual systems.

When I rearranged my home office a couple of years ago, I once again tried the tickler file. This time, the results were...

Exactly the same.

Apparently, I'm not tickled by the tickler file.

So, last week, I once again adapted my tickler file. Gone are the files for each day of the week, replaced instead by file folders labeled by project. It may seem like a small difference, but that's how I think -- project first, time slot second.

Like so many adjustments we make when we organize by STYLE, the shift is small, but significant -- at least in theory. Time will tell whether or not this new and improved system is "the one," but, for now, I'm happy with it. It removes the files for my current projects from my desk and puts them all together in one place that I can still keep visible. Each day, I'll pull out the master folder with my project files in it and dig in.

At least that's the plan. I'll keep you posted.


  1. Tickler doesn't work for me either, for the same reason. I have folders for things like school, kids' activities, medical info, and other topics. I'm approximately 75% good about filing papers into the relevant folders instead of keeping them in my desk where I NEED TO SEE IT. Because I honestly DON'T need to see directions for a tech procedure I use 4 times a year, but I need to be able to put my hands on them when I do need them.

  2. Also, the temptation with the tickler is to keep moving the deadline back. And papers for the same activity might be filed in 3 or 4 different spaces. I really need to keep related items together.

  3. Once again, we're on the same page! I'm also about 75% good at filing...but the size of the pile representing the other 25% can get overwhelming. And, your second comment is spot on -- moving things back is EXACTLY what I end up doing! I'm pretty good about keeping related items together, but I do run into problems when things related by the same topic have different deadlines.