Tickler File

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[edit] Description

In the parlance of Getting Things Done, a Tickler File consists of a series of 43 file folders: 12 monthly and 31 daily folders. Items are filed in a folder corresponding to when the item will need to be handled, thus reminding or "tickling" the user about it. These items might be action reminders, bills, receipts, reports, letters, or any number of other things.

There is an informative article on David Allen's website that covers the Tickler File method in detail.

[edit] Q & A

Question: Why would you use a physical file for this instead of a task in your electronic task system (i.e. [outlook] or your [pda]?

Answer: Why not? Having just listend to the GTD Fast CDs, David says that this just ANOTHER way to remind yourself. If you want to create a Task for a particular day in Outlook, no problem. David actually suggests an All Day activity in your calendar (which I like for various reasons) but there is absolutely nothing wrong or strange about creating a reminder in your calendar. However, if your tickle involves a physical item (bill you must send in, magazine article you think you should read) you now have two pieces of information that you must deal with - the reminder itself and the thing you want to act on. In such cases, it might make more sense to simply put things in a folder since the action associated with them should be obvious. You can quite successfully mix and match tactics - physical ticklers for some, electronic for others (even both) but the idea is to think about your "Stuff" as little as possible and to actually do what you intended to do with that stuff.

Question: How do you make a tickler ubiquitous? (I tried it and one of my major barriers was that every time I dropped something into the tickler, I had to figure out if I was actually going to be in the office on that day or not. Not only did this mean I never put time sensitive info in it, it also meant that I had a hard time establishing it as a new daily habit as I wasn't actually doing it daily, and worst of all it just wasn't fun.)

Answer: Your tickler should be at some central location where you can be sure to start your day. Because I choose to meld personal and work projects in the GTD system, my tickler lives at home. This causes some difficulties, as there are things I get at work I want to put in the tickler file. What I do is have a folder called "To file in tickler" I make sure I empty and file when I get home. Usually, I'll put stickies on the pieces of paper reminding me what date would be best to be reminded. In this case, you need to be vigilant to file and organize at home. Hope that helps. --JakeZ 00:55, 22 November 2006 (EST)
Another Answer: You *do* want to do fun things occasionally, right? Put fun things into the tickler. If you have a memory like mine, you'll be surprised at the fun things you pull out of the file :-). Currently I'm experimenting with keeping a "ubiquitous" few days of folders in my backpack, plus a tickler file at home *and* at the office. (Each file cabinet has the full 43 folders, except for the "current" ones I've pulled to put in my backpack). I feel a little silly having 2 folders for the 22nd in my backpack, but I haven't found a better plan yet. --DavidCary 23:14, 24 November 2006 (EST)

Q: What is "folderarchy" ?

[edit] Hacks

  • Bill reminder - When you have paid a quarterly bill, stick it in the next due month to remind you of the forthcoming payment. --RB 05:50, 11 Apr 2005 (EDT)
  • Recurring events - How to remember birthdays and other annually recurring events: Print out a list of the days in each month (31, 29, 31, 30, 31, 30, 31, 31, 30, 31, 30, 31) in a straight column down the left side of the page. Write the birthdays beside the appropriate days in the list. Put each list in a monthly folder. Offset it (i.e. November birthday list goes in the October folder) so that a birthday during the first week of the month won't mess you up. Now each month when you dump that list in your inbox you can add the next month's birthdays to your calendar, and plan on cards, gifts, parties, and so on.
  • Monthly tickler - The 12 Folders plus 31 doesn't work for me (too complex), but since years I have used a folder with 12 monthly pages - and this works. 18 Jul 2005
  • Bookmarks - I was thinking, sometimes there's a site that I want to visit at a future date but either always forget or print off the page and stick it in the tickler file (which takes up space and trees). As a solution, why not create a tickler file in your PC's bookmarks and check it daily for stuff you wanted to look at later. In Opera, I know that you can right-click on a folder of bookmarks and 'Open all folder items' ... a real timesaver. --Michael Negus 08:54, 28 Jul 2005 (GMT)
  • Web Pages and Electronic 43 Folders - Using the IMAP based email tickler and an IMAP server that supports "extensions" When I see a web page I want to visit later I choose 'File->send link' and send it to 'accountname+1todo.weekend@jalcorn.net' (assuming I want to look at it over the weekend - my 44th folder). It is delivered directly to my tickler folder.
  • Calendar Mask - Overlay calendar information on the tickler file by ordering the tabs by weekday so that (at a glance) you can tell which folder is for this Saturday, or next Monday. (NOTE: I start my weeks on Monday rather than Sunday, so the first tab on the left is Monday, and the last two on the right are the weekEND.) It requires moving the tabs as you move today's folder to the back, but big deal. (see photo) -- Ross DeMeyere, 23:22, 27 Jan 2006 (GMT)

[edit] Where to buy

  • [1]USA and Canada - Free Shipping $35 US Dollars from OverHall Consulting at [2]

More successful people are using the hard-to-find Letter-Sized, Indexed Dated Filing System, manufactured by Globe-Weis®, than any other tickler file system I know of. Thanks to a special arrangement with the manufacturer, OverHall Consulting has obtained a steady supply of this unique yet sometimes "hard to find" dated filing system that has not just the days of the month, 1 thru 30/31, yet also the months of the year, January thru December, all in one easy to use place!

This open-ended accordion-style dated filing system keeps all your ACT ON and important information together, saving you time, money, energy and space. Stand your TICKLER system up in a desktop holder or place it in a hanging folder in your file drawer. And this TICKLER file has reinforced tabs and heavyweight pages that withstand constant daily use. I've used mine for 12 years now! Plus a poly-coated cover, that protects against spills that could damage important documents. Great for home and business.


  • Keywords: '43 Indexed Desk File'
  • UK - Durable Pagna Bring Forward Files 1-12 and 1-31 - seems to be a UK (A4 paper sized) expandable file fit for purpose and is currently available from http://www.laoffice.co.uk (and I'm sure elsewhere also). It boasts a capacity of 6,000 sheets.
  • Europe - Box for tickler file - I was thinking about how to best set up a tickler file and found that Really Useful Products do a 35 litre box that fits the 12 monthly and 31 daily tickler files with quite a bit of room to spare. The box takes A4 and Foolscap files on rails moulded into the box (mentioned here). Unfortunately it looks like they only sell in the UK. Personally I picked mine up at the local Staples (cheaper than anywhere online). There is currently (as of 17th July '05) a manager's deal on, 3 boxes for £19.99. --Michael Negus 02:07, 17 Jul 2005 (GMT)
  • U.S.A. - Staples EveryDay - Although they chose not to use the word tickler in the name, Staples is now selling a single unit letter sized tickler file that I love. The staples product ID is 13013. Here is a link. I have one at home and one at work. It can hold quite a bit of stuff and also sits neatly on my desk at work. My only problem with the unit is that they have one tab for both 30 and 31 combined. So it's technically 42 folders. -- Chris Tulino, 28 Jan 2006
  • U.S.A. - Bill Organizer - This looks nice, 31 Day Bill Organizer with Drawer. Though only 31 folders, a day-to-day ticklet. Depending on your this might be enough.
  • Canada - Globe-Weis Everydayfile & Fast Sorter - quite possibly the same as the staples branded product not available in Canada mentioned above. Photos and tips on locating one in Canada.
  • The Netherlands & Belgium - Leitz termijnmap - Leitz has a 'termijnmap' with 43 folders, though it's unknown if it's usable as a tickler file. For similar filing systems search for 'termijnmap' or 'sorteermap'.

[edit] Testimonials

Although a 'tickler' might sound a bit radical, it's an old established technique. Try it out: you'll love it. --RB 15:10, 25 Mar 2005 (EST)

[edit] See also

Photos of tickler files:

Indexed Sorter

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