Tickler files optimize organization and maximize efficiency as a physical reminder for future actions. "The tickler file helps keep your appointments and documents manageable and takes the pressure off of finding tickets, documents, directions and invitations, especially when rushing out the door for a business appointment or social engagement," observes Judy Ott of Judy Ott Organization and Design. Once the tickler file is set up, coordinating it with a pocket planner or online calendar and daily review make managing tasks easier.
Things You'll Need
- File box
- Set of numbered dividers or file tabs, 1 to 31
- 12 hanging file folders
- 12 tabs, January through December
- Pocket planner
- Microsoft Outlook or other online calendar and tasks list
Put the file box in a visible place. A tickler file is only as good as your daily easy access and interaction with it.
Tab hanging file folders, one tab on each of the 12 hanging file folders, assigning each folder a month--January through December.
Place the set of numbered files or dividers (1 through 31), representing each day of the month, in the hanging file folder of the current month.
Choose a calendar and to-do list. Traditionally, the pocket planner has been the way to keep notes and schedule appointments and action items. As technology advances, a wide selection is available of computer software and online applications with project management, action plans and online calendars. Microsoft Outlook is commonly used as it is part of the Microsoft Office package. Customer relationship management systems, such as Goldmine or Salesforce, are robust alternatives with expanded features such as letter templates and client tracking.
Schedule future action items. Whether following up on prospects whose business cards were collected at the last chamber of commerce mixer or planning for the upcoming gala event, block out the time and date of each activity on the calendar.
Itemize the to-do list. The to-do list is a great way to list relevant steps toward goals and objectives, and the date that you will complete each step. The to-do list also helps keep track of bill paying.
File relevant documents in the tickler file that correspond with action items identified on the calendar and to-do list. For instance, if a sales appointment is scheduled on the 21st day of the current month, perhaps a hard-copy agenda, sales brochure with business card and directions to the meeting are filed in the tickler file in the current month behind the numbered tab 21. The tickets to the symphony for next month are filed in the next month's hanging file folder.
Review the next day. Look at the calendar, to-do list and look in the tickler file each evening before leaving work or retiring for the evening, if at home.
Prepare for the following month. When the current month ends, take the numbered files or dividers and place them in the next month's hanging folder, organizing in date-order the documents that have accumulated in that month's folder.