43 folders

David Allen (yes, I’m reading Getting Things Done for a second time – so I am still very much on this GTD kick) uses a “tickler” folder system, which I have just implemented.

You need 43 manila folders: 31 with a left tab (for the days of the month), and 12 with a middle or right tab (for the months). Each manila folder should be labeled (with a labeler).

Since today is August 28, the first folder is 28, with 29-31 just behind it.
Behind folder 31, there is the folder for September.
Behind the September folder, there are the folders for days 1-27.
After folder 27 are the rest of the months of the year: October, November, December, January, and so on until August.

Any time I have a piece of paper that I cannot or do not want to make a decision upon until some point in the future, I file it in the 43 folders. Every day, I check my daily file first thing to see what’s there. After I’ve checked it, I move that day’s folder to the end of line – today’s 28 goes behind 27 to start creating September’s daily folders.

For instance, I was invited to my cousin Mike’s wedding in Wisconsin. I can’t go unless I get a job – and the R.S.V.P. date is September 15. I throw the invite into the September 15 file. On September 15 I will open that file, see the invite, and make a final decision about whether or not I will be able to attend. Capice?

Another example: I printed Google map directions to the next book club meeting this Thursday. Now normally, that map would just float around on my desk, very potentially getting buried or misplaced. With 43 folders, I just throw the printed map into Thursday’s folder – and I’m done worrying about the map! When I wake up Thursday morning, I’ll find the map first thing, along with all the other papers I need to remember to take to Joshua Tree with me.

This system is clever. You are basically texting reminders to your future self.

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