Monday, November 7, 2011

Why I Don't Use A Tickler File In My GTD System

One of the things that David Allen recommends is setting up a tickler file. In my GTD system I opted not to set up a tickler file because it is bulky and hard to move around. After all there are 12 monthly dividers and 31 daily dividers plus all of the physical stuff that goes in it. I think if you work in an office all day and you don't have to be very portable it makes more sense. As part of my black belt philosophy, I feel it's very important to be highly mobile so you can work from anywhere. That's more difficult for bulkier stuff.

The other problem I had with a tickler file is that I never would look in it every day. If I had to guess, there are a lot of people like me who also don't remember to look in it either.

So what I opted to do is make an electronic tickler file. It is comprised of two components. The first is my google calendar. Anything that is time specific, I put on my calendar. Each event I put on my calendar automatically sends me an email reminder.

The second thing I do is put any physical item associated with that event in my @Waiting For folder. When the day comes that I need the item, I get an email telling me it's needed, open up my waiting for folder and take it out and do what I need to do with it.

A lot of times I will have a conference to attend. The agenda will arrive in my mail. I might have an itinerary I need for flights, hotel information or other documents.

My workflow would be as follows. I would put the date of the conference on my google calendar. Then I would take the paperwork related to the conference and put it in my waiting for folder. I then forget about it.

When the conference is a few days away, I receive an email reminding me I have an upcoming set of meetings. I then pull out of my waiting for folder and pull out the paperwork.

To me this is a more streamlined approach to the tickler file. It is highly portable and only requires one folder so it takes up less space.

If you don't have a lot of physical items that would go in a tickler file, I highly recommend that you scrap the old style tickler and use the set up I have outlined.

I personally don't know anyone who actually uses an old style tickler file. Let me know what you do.

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Michael Kuhn

Black Belt Project: Build Mental Strength