View Full Version : question on tickler file
08-03-2004, 01:44 PM
I'm reading through David's paper (37pages) on how to customize Outlook. On page 21 he discusses how one can include "absolute have to be done today" items on Outlook's calender as all-day events. These get placed at the very top of the calender day and are easily accessible and highly visible. In essence, they become a work list for that specific day.
I'm wondering if anyone has used this feature and if so, if you could see how this feature might replace the need for a "hard-copy" tickler file system. Could one simply put all the items once held in a hard-copy tickler file onto the calender date in Outlook as described above?
08-03-2004, 02:25 PM
I use the all-day events all them time. Just a few minutes ago, for example, I dragged an all-day event labeled "Blood Drive" to the 9:30 a.m. time slot now that I know that's what time my donation has been scheduled.
But for the past three weeks, I've seen a reminder that the Blood Drive is coming up. That's ben really helpful as I make other committments since after I give blood I tend to be a bit "out of it" for a few hours. :wink:
As almost all of my materials can be digital, I suppose this is my tickler file.
08-03-2004, 08:03 PM
Yeah, and since I sync Outlook to my pocket pc, I get to carry around my "tickler file" with me wherever I go.......that helps tremendously.
I also like the feature of being able to drag items from my @lists to the specific day thus giving me a picture of the NA's I need/want to work on for that specific day.
Helps me out alot.
08-04-2004, 03:48 AM
You're so right. Drag-and-drop in Outlook is one of the things Microsoft really got right. I drag contacts, calendar events, tasks, and notes to create a different data object all the time. It's an enormously useful feature.
08-04-2004, 06:37 AM
When I first started GTD, I struggled with when to use the tickler file versus when to make a "no time" event on my Palm Pilot, which sounds similar to the Outlook feature you mentioned. It turns out that the solution for me in most cases is pretty simple. If I have a piece of paper associated with the event, like a flyer or a bill for example, I put it in the tickler file. If there isn't a piece of paper, I put an event in my Palm. I have rarely found that writing a note to myself on a piece of paper and putting that into my tickler file is better than just writing a note into my Palm.
Your mileage may vary.
08-04-2004, 03:07 PM
If I have a piece of paper associated with the event, like a flyer or a bill for example, I put it in the tickler file. If there isn't a piece of paper, I put an event in my Palm. I have rarely found that writing a note to myself on a piece of paper and putting that into my tickler file is better than just writing a note into my Palm.
I couldn't agree more. I try to keep inputs in their original domain (paper or electronic) wherever practical. Flyers and bills nearly alway have information on them that doesn't seem relevant at the time you collect them, but might have to be referred to later. So it's best to stick paper sources in a tickler file rather than selectively transcribe their information into a calendar. Besides, copying material is just another way of having the same thought twice. It's best to eliminate redundancy.
I use a Treo 600 smartphone, which is great for jotting down NAs and events not originating from a paper source. I use a program called "2day," which is a home screen listing all my NAs -- scheduled and unscheduled -- for that day and the following day. It works like the "Today" screen on Pocket Outlook. PocketPCs might have an advantage here, because I don't believe drag-and-drop is supported from the Palm Deskop.
08-04-2004, 03:55 PM
I use a tickler system – electronic (Palm) and paper (Manila folders).
Anything that is for a particular date in the future - and not before - goes into the tickler. It relieves me of needing to review it, because there is nothing I would or could want to do about it before that date. If I might need it before then, and I still want to see it on the future date in the tickler, I’ll make a copy and keep one in the tickler, and the other in some reference file that I can find by topic if needed before then (this is rare).
The advantage I have found in putting something on a computerized calendar (Palm) is that I can use the “search” function to find anything, no matter where it is. The advantage of the paper tickler file is that anything with a physical trigger doesn't have to be written anywhere - just dropped into the tickler folder. I use both, whichever seems easier for what the reminder needs to be.
08-04-2004, 09:06 PM
Jason, et. al,
Thanks for the insight. Hearing your thoughts reinforces in my mind the need to keep the physical tickler file (manila folders) along with my electronic version.
Thanks for the thoughts.
08-04-2004, 09:28 PM
I use a tickler system – electronic (Palm) and paper (Manila folders).
The advantage of having more than one tickler system is input processing simplification and reduction. On the other hand the drawback is the output processing complexity increase. It is more dificult to retrieve something from or find something in more than one system. Each day you must check all your tickler files to be sure than you did not forget about something.
08-08-2004, 10:06 AM
I have found tickler files to be very cumbersome and time consuming. One tends to not have to be decisive. Items keep moving items forward into a future date. If am out of town or too busy the systems falls apart.
Instead I have found a better system is to:
1 I have disciplined myself to be toss paper. When I see my large inventory of work, it makes it easier to toss. But if I want to keep, I Put each piece of paper in an alphabetical sorter.
2 Write the date, the start or due date and next action if there is one. See **below.
3 Once the due date has passed, each week I mark a check mark.
4. I either trash, file for future reference or delegate to a staff person.
5. If I want to keep, once 3 checkmarks are on the paper, it has to be trashed.
** I Use my Palm to have one meeting Appointment every week on Friday to clean out an alphabetical sorter. I sometimes move this to Sat. morning when I have quiet time. I do this as part of my weekly review.
If I need the paper sooner, then I just go to the alphabetical sorter.
I use this system for my "Somewhat Maybe" system.
08-08-2004, 03:59 PM
My experience with the Tickler File has been just the opposite. It has become indispensable for me. It helps track all the pieces of paper that represent scheduled N/A's with specific dates, as well as things that I am not ready to decide on at the moment but I do want them to come back around. While I agree that one shouldn't just keep cycling things forward in the tickler file, it's OK to renegotiate with myself when I want to act on something that isn't date-specific, so I have no problem with just re-filing something forward. I do like the idea of putting check marks on the item in order to create a discipline about whether to toss at some future point, although I have to say that I usually toss the first time something comes around - if it goes into the tickler file it eventually needs action..
I absolutely agree that in order for a tickler file to work properly, it has to be rigorously maintained. My solution for when I need to be out of the office or on a trip is to either work the file several days ahead or else just take the folders for the upcoming days with me on the trip. (I've even had spur-of-the-moment day trips come up when I just tossed my tickler file into my in-basket and then put the whole in-basket into the car seat beside me.)
08-08-2004, 06:25 PM
Do you use only a hard-copy tickler system, or do you make use of an electronic one (e.g. using Outlook and the "all day event" option on your calender for things due that day)?
08-08-2004, 07:16 PM
Chris: Right now (at 8 weeks into GTD) I use a "hybrid system. Many of my projects involve multiple follow-up phone calls (for example, at intervals of 10 days, 15 days, 20 days, 1 month, 3 months, etc for up to one year). These are single sheets of paper that I pre-date and then move forward in the tickler file as each N/A call is completed. These paper forms never get on the Outlook calendar or Palm, and at any given time I'm managing 40-50+ of these entirely in the tickler file.
I do enter some "all day" events (other than those mentioned above) on the calendar much like David recommends, and I have migrated to only putting time-and-day-specific events on the Outlook calendar with time assignments. One exception is my instruction to "Check Tickler File", which is a repeating event sitting there with a 6AM time slot, so it pops up a reminder as soon as I begin work each day (regardless of what time I get to the office)
Other uses for the tickler file include seminars, training, subscriptions, & other business or personal events I've heard about but don't want to decide if I'm going to participate until closer to the event. Using David's analogy, I just use the tickler file to re-mail them to myself at the appropriate time. Until they pop up again in the tickler, I don't see or think about them. I'm also a sucker for motivational phrases & ideas, jokes, cartoons,etc and I've developed the habit of cutting these out & dropping them at random into the tickler file. (I have a host of GTD thoughts that I'm scattering through the file as I get time to enter & print them).
I could continue, but I hope this answers your question. If you have suggestions, criticisms, or improvements, please post.
08-08-2004, 07:16 PM
I use both the paper-based tickler system and an electronic tickler. It only takes me a few seconds per day to check my paper tickler. If I plan to be away for a period of time, I go through the tickler before I leave, just as Spect does.
08-08-2004, 08:20 PM
Thanks for your thoughts/input. After reading everyone's posts on this thread, I'm realizing the need for both a hard-copy and an electronic tickler file for me. The hard-copy one will be used for paper-based items that would take too long to copy down into the electronic version.
But, I can see the value (for me) in using an electronic version (with Outllok all-day events) as well. Those will be for tickler items which can easily be inputed to the Pocket PC. I like the ability to do this, because then I have at least a parital tickler file with me wherever I go. And if I'm away from the office for a day or two, I will still have them with me.
08-09-2004, 03:26 AM
Chris: Here's something we discussed on another thread, but I'll repeat it here. The main potential problem with the paper-based-only portion of the tickler file arises when I've put something into the file and the party contacts me before the date I had set to call them back. How do I quickly locate their paper?
My solution is to use Tuesday as my forward-dating default. If you tell me to call back "in a couple of weeks", I file you in the second Tuesday from today. Sometimes that means I'm initially planning to call you back in 10-12 days, but that's not a big deal. The Tuesday you show up, I might call you or I might move you forward another day or two, depending upon the nature of the call and my time actually available on that day. (I choose Tuesday because I find that Mondays tend to have a lot of ad hoc stuff show up on its own and so I keep Mondays relatively light in terms of any scheduled activities)
Now, if you call me before you're supposed to show up again, I only have to look in the folders for the next four Tuesdays (and/or the next few months if our follow-up was scheduled more than 30 days out) to retrieve my tickler sheet on you. About the only weakness I find in this system is if you call me back unexpectedly when I'm out of the office, but I'm willing to live with that inconvenience because for me it's fairly rare.
I know this won't work for everyone, but for me it's a very useful technique.
08-09-2004, 06:27 AM
Thanks for the idea. Sounds like a helpful way of handling that part of the tickler system.