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Strategize Organize LLC
Newsletter Volume 5, Issue 2

Paper: The Modified Tickler


Argh…paper.  Paper on the table, the counters, the steps…sigh, so much paper. How do we manage it, so it doesn’t manage us?  This newsletter talks about the “Tickler” system which has been around for a long time, some say since the early twentieth century.  I’ll talk about how we can modify the “Tickler” so that it works for our own individual needs. I would be remiss if I didn’t say that this system does not resonate with everyone, and that is fine. It’s another option to think about and perhaps take little pieces from.

We would love a magic wand to make our paper challenges go away.  We would love a “system” that fixes everything.  The reality is that systems can help us gain structure, but we still need to make decisions and schedule time to process our paper.

Description of Traditional Tickler

In its traditional form, the Tickler System is a set of 43 file folders, a file folder for each month and each day of the month.  They are arranged with the days of the current month in front (for example, today’s day, 28), the next month behind (for example, March), and the folders of the days, as they go by, are put behind the next month (1-27 are behind March).  The remainder of the months (April through February) are put at the very back.  This link has a very good picture of how this looks and a detailed description for those of you who are feeling confused. 
Description of Modified Tickler

The modified does not have a file for everyday.  Some people feel that it is a bit too much to have a spot for everyday.  Also, this modified Tickler has some added folders.
A file folder for:
·      every month
·      incoming paper
·      bills
·      reference
·      to file
·      talk with partner about
·      weekly

This is how these folders work. 
• Monthly folders – If you have paper or action that needs to be acted on or accessed in a future month, the paper goes in the appropriate month’s folder.  For example, let’s say that you have tickets for a concert in June.  The tickets go in the June folder.  You have a birthday card for your niece, whose birthday is in April. The card goes in April. You get a flyer for gutter cleaners that you want to contact in the spring; you can put it in May.  You want to remember to take a box of books to your sister’s on your trip to see her in July.  You write a note “Take box of books that are on garage shelf by door to sister Sara” and put it in July’s folder. 
• Incoming paper folder – You need a place to put the paper that comes into your house that needs to be processed.  Instead of putting the paper on the table or counter, put it in this file.  Two exceptions: Put bills in the bill folder because you don’t want those to get overlooked and put anything that can be recycled or thrown out in recycling or trash. 

• Bills folder – Bills to pay go here.

• Reference folder –Any paper that you refer to and is timeless can go here.  For example, recycling guidelines, your favorite carry out menu, or directions on how to use the remote, or a quote that inspires you.  One note: If you start getting lots of paper for one category, for example, menus or quotes, you’ll probably want to start their own file.

• To file folder –It is very important to dedicate a time to file! More about this later. 

• Talk with partner about – We often have things that we need to discuss with someone before we can move forward.  Put those topics here. 

• Weekly file folders –Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5.  Some find that daily folders are too much, but they do want to break the month down a bit. Weekly folders are one way to do this.

• Other –You may find that some of these categories don’t work for you, and instead, you need categories such as “to read” or “waiting for”. That’s great.  Create those folders and remove the ones that don’t work. 

Very Important!!!

• For paper to flow, it needs to be processed.  Schedule an appointment with yourself to work on your papers.  The files hopefully will provide support and guidance so that the task doesn’t feel so large and overwhelming. 
• Schedule time for filing, or in your paper processing time, allow the last 10 minutes or so for filing. 


As someone once said, each paper is a decision.  Decisions can be hard.  But by breaking paper down into something—whether it is this system or something else— we can manage our paper rather than having the paper manage us. Remember: schedule time for paper action!

Final Note
Check out my 5th Anniversary Picture Tip Contest -
Vote for your favorite Strategize Organize picture tip and be entered to win a free t-shirt!
Next week I’m posting a picture of the tee-shirt…stay tuned!

Good Luck,

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Copyright (C) 2008 Susan Hunsberger Professional Organizer All rights reserved.
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