Using a Tickler (1-31) File by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

In General
Dec 2nd, 2013

There are many things I could live without….a tickler file is not one of them (at least if I intend to continue being productive). The “tickler” or 1-31 file has been around for many years. The numbers 1 – 31 correspond, obviously, to the days of the month and the items you place in this file are meant to “tickle” your brain into doing something with those items. Here are ten ideas for using your tickler file for enhanced peaceful productivity.

  1. Get or prepare a tickler file. It may be 31 folders labeled with their numbers, 31 hanging folders labeled with their numbers, an accordion file with 31 slots that are already labeled, or what I’m currently using, a Swiftfile. Have a tickler file for your home as well as your workplace.
  2. Put your tickler file where it is easily accessible from your main desk or workstation.
  3. When you are processing your physical in-box and you determine that an item needs to be handled on a certain day, drop that item or a reminder piece of paper into that day’s slot or folder. If the item is very small, staple or tape it to a larger piece of paper.
  4. Get in the habit of putting agendas, plane tickets, hotel confirmations, etc. into the day’s numbered slot or folder on which you will need them.
  5. If you prefer not to mail in your bill payments sooner than necessary, put bills in your home or office tickler file on the day they should be mailed.
  6. If you prepare birthday, anniversary, or other holiday cards at the beginning of the month, drop them into the slot for the day you want to mail them. Friends, family, and colleagues will be impressed with your care and timeliness.
  7. If you are going to be out of town for a day or more, then go through the upcoming folders or slots to ensure that you have everything you need while you’re out of town.
  8. If you find that you cannot come into the office, call someone, ask him/her to pull everything out of the day’s slot and go through it with you. You will be able to tell your colleague what needs to be handled and what can wait until your return.
  9. Special note to teachers: Put copies of tests in your tickler file for the day you’re giving the test. This will keep the test out of students’ sight but readily accessible for you.
  10. Check your tickler file as the last act of every day or as the first act of every morning.

Note: Some items need to be handled in upcoming months, not in the current month, so you will need to have January – December files as well. More on those in next week’s Top Ten Productivity Tips.

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