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Home / Tips and Tricks / Tickler files are a perfect way to keep track of documents, tasks and more – LifeSavvy

Tickler files are a perfect way to keep track of documents, tasks and more – LifeSavvy



  Example of a Colorful Tickler File with Bold Numbered Folders
AjFile / Shutterstock

The Tickler file is a strangely named filing system that dates back to the early 20th century and is still an incredibly useful organizational tool today is. To set up a Tickler file:

What is a Tickler file?

If you want to simplify your life and keep track of your daily tasks, we recommend creating a Tickler system, often referred to as a Tickler file. The name is a pun as you use the system to send reminders of your future self and "tickle" your memory.

The system itself, which we'll discuss in more detail, is incredibly trivial to configure because it's just a collection of physical folders with captions. You place things (eg, invoices to pay for, concert tickets, a form for your child's excursion, or other date-related materials) into the folders and take care of them at the time of approach ̵

1; all thanks to the system-provided reminder. Basically, you spare your brain the work of worrying about a particular detail that needs to happen in the future. They also reduce the likelihood of forgetting important tasks or of losing the memory in the digital ether.

In today's high-tech world, you can use a tickler to access a variety of apps and calendar reminders. System seems almost archaic. But believe us, a visual filing system with handwritten notes and hands-on paper will activate your brain in the most effective way.

Creating a Tickler File

You must have at least 43 storage folders to get started. as well as a way to keep these files. We recommend using an open box or hanging rack. Do not use a traditional file drawer. Keep your tickler system within reach and visible!

The folders must be 1-31 labeled and taken into account each day of the month. Then label the remaining folders for the months of January through December. Using folders with bright colors helps attract your attention.

You must first position the folders with the next few days and then the next few months. For example, if today is the 10th of August, place this folder in front, with 11-31 immediately behind it. Then the months would be filed after the numbered days.

  Example of Simple Manila Folders with Tabs Labeled by the Label Printer
The simple manila folders with printed labels that our editor-in-chief Jason has been using for years. Jason Fitzpatrick

When you lift today's folder, open the content and complete the elements it contains. Move the current folder to the back of the stack at the end of the day. If your task list requires you to perform tasks in months, you can put them in the corresponding month folder. At the beginning of each month, you can then divide all the content into the specified days. For example, everything related to Halloween should be postponed to October. When October arrives, you can organize the Halloween items in the various folders that match the holiday.

Some people like to create additional folders for certain categories such as "pay bills," "holiday ideas," "buy gifts," etc. – but it's easy to thin the simple performance of the tickler system with too many folders. We therefore recommend keeping them simple until you have the basic routine under control.

Write regular events on index cards or Post-It notes. For example, if your child needs to bring a snack to kindergarten once a week, write it on a card and postpone it until the next week after you finish it. Make sure you put it in a folder for a few days before it needs to be finished so you have plenty of time to shop.

You can also create weekday labels and attach them to the first seven folders.

If you do not feel motivated to create your own tickler system, you can buy a numbered folder set or a monthly folder set online. There are many opportunities.

Key to Success

Once your tickler system is up and running, you need to check it every day. Here are a few keys to success:

  • Place it near your workstation: Place your tickler system next to your desk. We recommend that you do not store it in an extendable storage system or store it in a cupboard. Visibility is the key here.
  • Using Digital Reminders: Even if the tickler system works because it's a paper system, you may need to set digital reminders at the beginning. Set up a daily reminder on your phone, your e-mail address or whatever applies to you and say: "Check Tickler Box!". Over time, it becomes part of your daily routine, so you no longer need digital memories.
  • Add-In Rewards: Sometimes a to-do system can be overwhelming, so we accidentally avoid it because we feel overwhelmed or burned out (or just hesitant). However, if you sprinkle some rewards later in the month, you'll be a little curious about what the folders of each day bring. It could be something as simple as "Spend 10 minutes without guilt on Facebook" or even a small piece of chocolate in it.
  • Do not waste a load of chores on one day: Try Spreading Make sure you do not put the to-do list of the entire week in a daily folder. Keep life under control with bite-sized tasks.
  • Stick to mission-critical tasks: The beauty of the Tickler file is that it's tightly married to the date. If something is not date-dependent (this can be done anytime, but does not have to be done in the first week of September or even in September), resist the urge to put it in the tickler. You want to train your brain to understand that something in the Tickler file needs to be done now and does not have to be thrust all the time.

The most important thing, such as using a calendar or to-do list, is religious review. A tickler system works magically, but only if you check the folders every day.


Staying organized in today's busy world is a challenge! But once you've got your Tickler system up and running, it should help free your brain from the hassle and stress of remembering everything. Simply submit it and trust that the file will help you to deal with it at the right time.


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