Everybody knows about foolproof plans. Coyote had hundreds of ’em. And we know how well that worked out for him! If only Coyote had sought the help of a friendly, professional organizer.
Today’s post is about tickler systems. Like Coyote, with all of our MS Outlook and other calendar and task management software programs and smart phone apps, we think we’ve got all our bases covered. And those systems work well since many of us are always on our computers, smart phones or tablets. They help us manage information and emails and other digital responses. At work and at home, moms, dads and teens supplement these electronic reminders with sticky notes on a refrigerator, a to-do list tacked to a bulletin board, or loose pieces of notepaper stuffed in a briefcase, purse or backpack.
The Problem. But there’s more to a tickler system than managing information, digital responses and sticky notes. A key component to a complete tickler system is also the ability to keep track of important hardcopy or non-digital items — papers, birthday cards, tickets for a flight or ball game, and invoices you need to access and act on in a timely manner. A genuine, foolproof tickler system is more than a calendar or task reminder popup from Outlook. A foolproof tickler system must include easy physical access to what you need to work on when you need to find it.
A Solution. To complement the electronic tools I use, my system also includes 43 hanging files. Yep, good old-fashioned hanging files. I labeled 31 of them 1 through 31 for the days of the month. I labeled the 12 other files January through December. Then I simply put the numbered files behind the current month I’m in. Now those critical hardcopy items will be easily accessible the day that I need them. Every item stays contained and cannot wander away — as loose papers or materials often to do!
An Example. Say you need to send a birthday card to Aunt Betsy or a thank you to a client who won’t get back into town for a week. The card or thank you needs to arrive on the 25th. You sign the card or thank you, put it in an addressed and stamped envelope, and drop it in the file marked the 20th. When the 20th rolls around, you reach in the file, pull out the card and mail it.
A Caution. The only thing that you should put in the tickler system are items that are date sensitive or that you need to review on a specific date. Keep your tickler file system streamlined so you can get in and out of it quickly.
The Bottom Line. This simple paper/physical system will complement your electronic systems and make all of your time-sensitive tasks effortlessly effective — and successful!