The Tickler File

What it consists of

The TICKLER FILE or BRING FORWARD FILE consists of 43 folders:

31 daily folders labelled “1” to “31”

12 monthly folders labelled with the months of the year

The daily folders are kept at the front, beginning with tomorrow’s folder (for the example used in Getting Things Done where today is October 5th, this would be the folder labelled “6”).

The remaining daily folders (in the example, “7” to “31”) are filed behind this followed by the monthly folder for next month (in the example, this would be “November”) and then the daily folders already used (in the example, “1” to “5”). Finally there would be the remaining monthly folders for the remaining 11 months (in the example, “December” to “October”.

So you would end up with a set of folders (following the example) labelled thus:

[6]
[7]
[8]
[9]
[10]
[11]
[12]
[13]
[14]
[15]
[16]
[17]
[18]
[19]
[20]
[21]
[22]
[23]
[24]
[25]
[26]
[27]
[28]
[29]
[30]
[31]
[November]
[1]
[2]
[3]
[4]
[5]
[December]
[January]
[February]
[March]
[April]
[May]
[June]
[July]
[August]
[September]
[October]

How it works

  1. Each day, empty the daily folder for that day into your in-basket.
  2. File the empty folder at the back of the daily folders (in the example, “6” is emptied and placed behind “5” to now represent November 6th).
  3. When the next monthly folder is reached (in the example, “November” after “31” has been emptied) the monthly folder is emptied into your in-basket and then filed at the back of the monthly folders to represent that month next year.

Tips and Tricks

Be sure to update your Tickler File every day and if you’re going away for a few days process all the folders ahead for the days you’ll be away.

Use the folders to file:

  • travel documents and tickets for events on the day you’ll need them
  • bills on the days you need to pay them
  • print out reminders for each birthday and anniversary and file them in the appropriate month to be moved into the appropriate day in due course. It’s a good idea to file reminders a few days ahead (especially if the due date is at the beginning of a month) to ensure you get a card and present ahead of time

There is a free factsheet on the Tickler File available on the David Allen website. There also used to be a Tickler set of 43 sturdy plastic letter size file folders, open on three sides. These do not now appear to be available. You can, of course, easily make and label your own set of folders but they are unlikely to last as long as these strong, purpose built folders used to last.

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