As my avid readers (hi, Mom!) know, I’ve been getting organizationally coached by Julie Bestry of Best Results Organizing (and yes, there is a larger post on that to come as soon as I can collect all my thoughts). Because she is awesome, she provided me with a copy of her eBook, Tickle Yourself Organized.
I’ve heard about Tickler Files before, but all that I took away from my reading was that “The Tickler” was a great name for a supervillain. Doesn’t that sound like Batman’s nemesis? A friend of The Joker?
OK, so I did pick up a bit more about The Tickler in my cursory reading of Getting Things Done as well as the productivity blogs I devour, but I didn’t honestly think it would be conducive to my life. What do I need to be reminded about, besides paying bills? I set that up to get an email notification when one was due, so that was that. No Tickler necessary.
Well, it wasn’t until I read Tickle Yourself Organized that the lightbulb appeared over my head (& it was on a crowded subway, so everyone could see it):
“I can use The Tickler for every piece of paper I have that doesn’t need to be filed!”
I thought of the boarding passes I printed at work and had in my purse, & how they’d land on my coffee table until the night before the trip where I would (hopefully) remember where they were & I would (hopefully) remember to put them in my carry-on. I thought of the car rental confirmation for a trip four weeks in the future, and how that would land on my coffee table (or desk, or living room table) until we had The Big Hunt for it. I thought of my vendor thank you cards that needed to be completed from my wedding 10 weeks prior. Those have also been living on my coffee table, picking up crumbs and staring at me, making me feel guilty.
The lightbulb got brighter & brighter as the exclamations kept growing:
“I could keep my travel printouts in the file folder for the day I’m traveling!”
“I could keep my thank you cards in the file folder of the day I’m going to write them!”
“I could put my paperwork for the DMV in the file folder of the day I’m going to go for my name change!”
“I could put my doctor referral in the file folder of the day I’m going to that doctor!”
“I could take the food shopping list from the fridge into the file folder of the day we’re going food shopping so I don’t leave it behind!”
“I can walk again!”
“Oh wait…..I could always walk.”
A few hours after I got home from our Thanksgiving trip, I started on My Tickler: an open file folder box complete with 43 file folders: 31 labeled 1-31 (for the days of the week) & 1 for each month of the year. The one I used looks like this but is unfortunately no longer available for purchase from See Jane Work. If you’re looking for something that’s both portable and already made, Julie recommends a sorter like this one.
Besides leading me to this “Eureka!” moment (which has lead to the de-cluttering of big chunks of my brain & my house for 2 whole days), Julie also makes some excellent points in Tickle Yourself Organized that go beyond The Tickler. The other big point I loved was “The Toothbrush Rule”, which explains that items should live where they’re used. For example, nobody ever keeps their toothbrush in their kitchen (bad hygiene aside)- it’s always on/above the bathroom sink. Although we have limited storage space (& space in general), it really has me rethinking how I can keep our toiletries out of the hallway closet and put them in the bathroom where they belong.
I love, also, how The Tickler can be utilitzed for not only paper organization, but for project management. If I wanted to, I can break down a goal of mine into little steps and write each one on a piece of paper. Then, I can file the pieces of paper away separately into the file folder of the day I want to complete that step. It’s also an easy way to remind yourself to follow up on a project. Yesterday, I sent a letter to ING to request my name change. I made a copy of it, noted when it was mailed, and put it in the Tickler folder for the 21st of this month. That way, if the 20th comes & I haven’t heard back, I’ll be reminded to call ING the next day to inquire about what’s going down in Chinatown (which is another way of saying “What’s the dealio?”).
The flexibility of The Tickler is also key, because if I decide to go to the DMV for a new license on Friday instead of Tuesday, I can move the paperwork pretty quickly. Before The Tickler, I might have just kept it in my purse for a week where it can get easily lost/ripped/eaten.
I could write another few thousands words about what’s contained in this eBook and how it’s awesome, but I haven’t written a book report in many, many years – so I’m going to quit while I’m ahead. If you’re looking for a way to wade out of your paperwork, or get a better handle on the work flow of a project, or become more focused & organized in general, I highly recommend Julie herself as well as Tickle Yourself Organized.