Time management is a perpetual challenge in our busy lives. We often find ourselves wishing for more time, but as David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done, wisely points out, we cannot create or manage time; we all have the same 24 hours in a day. What we truly need is better control and focus over how we utilize that time. In this blog post, I’m thrilled to introduce you to an incredible tool that can revolutionize your productivity: the ‘tickler file.’ This remarkably effective and straightforward system can save you precious time spent shuffling papers and allow you to maintain a clear and focused mind.
At its core, the tickler file is a file drawer or box that serves as a temporal storage system for your tasks and important documents. Instead of being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things that need your attention, you can effectively postpone them to a later date or time. Let’s delve into how the tickler file works and how it can transform your approach to time management.
**Organizing the Tickler File**
Imagine you have received a letter from the Department of Revenue that requires your attention within the next two months, and you only work in your office once a week. Rather than leaving the letter on your desk or buried in some random pile, you can place it in the corresponding folder that aligns with the day you’ll be in your office next. The tickler file drawer is divided into days and months, containing 31 folders for the days and 12 folders for the months.
For example, if today is June 21st, the first folder in the tickler file will be for the 22nd of June. After you’ve dealt with the tasks for the 21st of June, you move the folder behind the July tab, effectively referencing the 21st of July. This way, the folders for the days “roll” into each month. The system allows you to schedule tasks from the 22nd of June to the 21st of July and postpone anything to the monthly folders from July of the current year through June of the following year.
**Utilizing the Tickler File**
The flexibility of the tickler file makes it a powerful organizational tool. Suppose you have a task you want to schedule for the 12th of November; simply place it into the November folder. When November arrives, the file for the 12th will be right there, ready for you to address.
In some cases, you may have larger files or documents that don’t fit into the standard manila folders. To accommodate these, consider using blue and yellow folders for extended storage. Place them just in front of the day you plan to deal with them, ensuring they are out of sight and out of mind until the designated time comes.
**Adapting the Tickler File**
The beauty of the tickler file is its versatility. If you frequently work out of your vehicle, you can use a file box to keep the folders organized and accessible on the go. For those who prefer a weekly approach rather than daily, try using five weekly files for each month, covering the 1st through the 5th weeks. To keep things simple, use 3-tab file folders and avoid using the third tab. Instead, keep the tickler file days (or weeks) on the first tab and the months on the second tab, making it easier and neater to use.
**Enjoy a Clear and Organized Mind**
By adopting the tickler file system, you can free your mind from the overwhelming clutter of tasks and deadlines. No longer will you waste time searching for documents or feeling stressed about forgotten commitments. This simple and effective tool empowers you to take control of your time, allowing you to focus on what truly matters and enhancing your overall productivity.