Using a Tickler (January – December) File by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

By meggin@meggin.com
Mar 25th, 2013
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fileLast week, you received ten tips for using a tickler (1 – 31) file. This week, we will extend that idea for the other tickler files you need….January – December. There is a simple reason why you need both types of tickler files: Some of the items you need to “tickle” or remind yourself of correspond with the days of the month you are currently in (and that’s when you use the 1 – 31 file). Often, however, you have items that are for upcoming months and you need a place for those. Here are ten ideas for using your monthly tickler file for enhanced peaceful productivity.

  1. Get or prepare a tickler file. It may be 12 folders labeled with the months, 12 hanging folders labeled with the months, an accordion file with 12 slots that are already labeled, or whatever works best for your area. Have a tickler file for your home as well as your workplace.

    Note:  Be ready to change as your needs change.  For example, for many years, I had so many different projects with so many different ancillary materials that I needed box-bottom hanging file folders for the months.  Other times, I have not needed that much space.  Tickler files are not a one-size-fits-all.

  2. Put your January – December tickler file where it is easily accessible from your main desk or workstation. It will be near your 1 – 31 file.

  3. When you are processing your physical in-box and you determine that an item needs to be handled in an upcoming month, drop that item or a reminder piece of paper into that month’s slot or folder. If the item is very small, staple or tape it to a larger piece of paper or put it in a plastic folder (clear).

  4. Get in the habit of putting agendas, tickets, invitations you’ll need for entry, etc. into the month’s slot or folder in which you will need them.

  5. If you have certain quarterly responsibilities (e.g., paying quarterly taxes, changing the air filters in your house or office, or sending progress reports on various projects, drop a reminder into those months regarding the responsibility or task.

  6. Buy cards for the year when possible and then drop the cards into the corresponding month. For special holidays, buy cards for next year during this year’s season. [This could help you to avoid having to do what my husband did one year…giving me a “to my favorite niece” Valentine card.]

  7. If you have a trip or a presentation in an upcoming month, create a folder for that event to keep within the monthly tickler file. As you get your plane ticket, agenda items, hotel confirmation, notes for meetings, internet info about sites you want to see, ideas for your speech, etc., just keep putting everything into that folder.

  8. When you contact someone to come speak to the local civic group for which you are program chair, and the person indicates that she “won’t be available until 3 months from now, but you should call then,” drop a reminder to call her into that month. Remember, it’s called a tickler file to remind you to do things…and it works!

  9. Yearly items such as scheduling a mammogram or taking your car in for a tune-up should be in your January – December tickler. There are many purchases that you make each year that “automatically renew” for your convenience (or for theirs!) If you want to think through whether you have something automatically renew, put the print-out or the receipt in the month prior to the renewal month so that you can consider whether you want the software subscription, magazine subscription, or service contract to renew. It will save you money and time.

  10. Two or three days prior to the end of a month, take everything out of the upcoming month’s folder or file and determine what day it belongs in for the month getting ready to start. It is an excellent way to think through responsibilities and tasks and to get an overview of your month.

You won’t believe the peaceful, predictably productivity that will come into your life as you use the 1 – 31 and the January – December tickler files. You deserve it!  Being an entrepreneur is fun – and reasonably stressful.  Use all the tools you can to help!!

© Meggin McIntosh, PhD (also known as “The PhD of Productivity”®) was a university professor for over 15 years and spent five of those years working with faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno.  Since leaving the full-time academic life, Meggin writes, consults, and does workshops for smart people who want to be more productive, thereby being able to consistently keep their emphasis on excellence.  Thus, the name of her company is Emphasis on Excellence, Inc.

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