Systems & Tips

Six Ways to Organize Your Life with a Tickler File

So you’ve got your tickler file ready to go… now what? How do we go about using it?

It’s really a pretty easy concept: just file away anything you’d want to remind yourself about.

What Do You File?

You can write a note to yourself or (and this is one of the things I like about a physical folder system) you could put materials in there that you’ll need. So, for instance, you could file away printed directions for the day that you’ll be preparing for a trip. Or file away a registration form that you’ll need to bring with you to a convention in the future.

You could even file materials separately for an event. At the beginning of the month, file a note reminding you to ask for time off from work because you have jury duty. Then, on the actual day you have jury duty, you could file the paperwork you’ll need to bring with you, directions to the courthouse, and maybe even a checklist of the things you’ll want to bring with you.

An Easy Fix to a Common Tickler Problem

One of the most common complaints I hear about tickler systems is that people want more notice than a tickler may give you. They don’t want to wake up, look at their file, and see that a major report is due that day. Oops.

The solution is just common sense: file notes for whenever you’d want to remind yourself of something. It doesn’t have to be the day the report is due. It doesn’t even have to be one note. File away a reminder for six weeks before the report is due, another one for four weeks before the report is due, and another one two weeks before. It’s your tickler system – so file away whatever you want to for whenever you want.

Tickle Away!

Here are six possible categories of tickler uses. Hopefully, these will get your gears turning about ways you can make this system work for you individually.

1. One-Time Events

File a note for:

– when a movie you want to see starts showing in theaters (or a concert, sporting event, etc.)
– when you want to begin preparing for an upcoming curriculum you’re teaching.
– a major clearance sale that a retailer has scheduled.
– when a friend’s baby is due so you can pray and help them out.
– when a friend’s surgery is scheduled so you can pray and minister to them.

2. Important Dates and Deadlines

File a note for:

– birthdays and anniversaries – not only the actual days but reminders for several days beforehand to buy gifts or plan dates.
– when taxes are due – both the deadline and reminders beforehand to begin preparing the paperwork.
– deadlines at work.
– deadlines for insurance renewal, etc. File notes weeks prior if you want to explore other insurance plan options before renewing.

3. Seasonal Tasks

File a note for:

– the season change, so you can see if your kids have properly fitting jackets or swimsuits in a timely fashion.
– buying things in the off-season for better prices – such as Halloween costumes or school supplies.
– when you hear about a restaurant or attraction in January that you want to check out during the family vacation in July.

4. Recurring Events

A tickler file can be used as a reminder system of regularly occurring events, such as replacing the air filters in your home. Just file a “Change Air Filters” note – and then also indicate that the note is to be re-tickled (write on the note something like “re-tickle one month later”). So when you check your filters on September 6th, re-tickle the note for October 6th.

File a note for:

– watering the lawn and the flowers. Re-tickle for a few days later.
– checking tire pressure or oil level in your car. Re-tickle for a few weeks later.
– listening to a weekly online sermon. Re-tickle for one week later.
– calling your grandmother every week. Re-tickle for one week later.
– Pay the power bill by its due date. Re-tickle for one month later. Keep separate reminders for power, water, mortgage, insurance, etc.
– date night, family night, guys’ / girls’ night out, etc. Re-tickle as appropriate.
– setting up a meeting with someone you’re mentoring, your accountability partner, or your mentor.

5. Calls, Emails

You can file reminders for contacting friends, classmates, coworkers, customers, etc. – for personal or business reasons. Then, if further follow-up is beneficial, re-tickle as needed.

You can re-tickle based off the results of the contact. If you call someone and don’t get in touch with them, you can re-tickle the reminder for a day or two later. If you do get in touch with them and want to follow up in two weeks, then re-tickle the note for two weeks later.

File a note for:

– phoning a sales lead to move them through the sales funnel. Re-tickle as necessary as they progress from lead to paying customer.
– calling Sunday School class members just to fellowship.
– calling a friend whose parent passed away. Re-tickle the reminder for a few weeks later to follow up.

6. Countdowns and Progress Evaluation

File a note for:

– a countdown of every week leading up to a major project
– an encouraging reminder that you’ve been on your diet for five months. It can help give you strength to keep up the good work!
– the mid-point in a project you’re working on – complete with reminders about where you should be with your sub-deadlines and goals. Use this opportunity to reevaluate how things are going.

These are just some of the ways that I’ve found to use my tickler file. If you have any other ideas, please feel free to share!

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