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Idiot-proofing your tickler maintenance

After reading the recent caterwaul about my sloppy GTD habits, Shannon Lee emailed with a great hack for making sure your tickler file gets reviewed each day.

I had the same problem with maintaining my tickler at first, but I found a nice little hack that helped me out: every night I stick everything I’m still working on in tomorrow’s tickler file. That way, when I get in in the morning and need to figure out what the hell I was doing when I left last night, I have to cycle the tickler to find out.

It helps that I keep my “next actions” list on a piece of paper, along with a little list of goals (more often “themes”) for the day and a simple one-line-per-hour 9-5 day planner; before I leave for the day I staple that sheet to whatever notes or printouts I have laying around and stick that in tomorrow’s tickler folder.

In the morning I pull yesterday’s little packet of crap, copy what’s relevant to today’s piece of paper, and stick yesterday’s stuff in the filing system (it makes doing timesheets, which I wind up doing only infrequently when we bill for my hours, much easier if I have these). Then I walk into the daily production meeting, where stuff inevitably gets added or crossed off, and then back to my desk to actually do work.

I’ve found the discipline of writing out a new sheet every morning to be very good for me, like doing time-management yoga. The fact that it keeps the tickler flowing was a happy accident.

I like that idea of writing up a new list each morning (or perhaps the afternoon/evening before)—it's sort of like preparing the day’s menu at a bistro based on the available ingredients. I've been working on something similar that provides a focused daily subset of next actions that's measured against a weekly set of themes and goals (more on this in a full post soon).

Also, I must say, I have a special fondness for hacks that won’t let you forget to do something (cf. The Forehead Ticket Trick). To me, that’s what life hacks are really all about: bridging your synaptic rivers in a way that makes failing difficult. Rock on, Shannon.

Organizational Euphoria's picture

What on earth do you...

What on earth do you do with a tickler file?

There’s been a lot of discussion about the tickler file – how to remember to use it, what do you use it for, what about things that don’t fit – so I figured I’d explain how I use my tickler file, and we’d just go from there.

First off ??...




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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