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Tickler files and file system

Tickler files are documents commonly used in office environments to keep track of business activities. It's somewhat similar to an action schedule, and is useful to maintain control over appointments, bills, tasks, documents and so on with the the plethora of papers and activities that makes a typical office mise en scène. If you have an appointment with your customer ten days forth, a tickler file will be there (perhaps the day before?) to remind you. If your telecom account is due to next Friday, there will be a tickler file not letting you forget to pay it.

That said, a tickler file system is just a method to keep that tickler files organized in such a way that the activities they represent are not passed by. Tickler file system sets can be organized by trend of activity, that is, you can set up a file system for the pending accounts, another to the appointments schedule, and so forth.

What it consists of

A tickler file systems consists of:
  • A set of tickler file cards - The number of file cards will depend mainly on the frequency in which the activity repeats itself along the period the file system covers.
  • A set of divider cards - These could be one for each month, one for each day. You might also define one for each week in the month, for example, if there is the need.
  • A metal or acrylic box - A simple box, suitable to accomodate the cards above.
Implementing it

In the file cards, you should write some data about the activity which that card should remind you of (say, for example: "To pay the phone bill") and give other details about such an activity: to what company should the payment be made, what are the related phone numbers, etc. Then you place the card in the appropriate slot (the one representig the date in which the activity should take place). For example, a card regarding an account due to March 14, 2003, should be put behind the 14h "day card" into the "March, 2003" slot. Every time a new activity is set, or created, you should add an entry in the trickle file system as quickly as possible (note that updating the file system can also be a registered activity) .

Using it

This tracking scheme will do you no good if you don't check the box in every workday. At a convenient hour, you should draw all the file cards form the current day's slot and start working on them, one by one.

A not so pleasant example of its effectiveness

A telemarketer sets up a trickle file system to keep track of the phone calls he must make to his potential costumers. He creates file cards, one to each call he has to make, and place them in the trickle box. When he calls the numbers on the cards, either he sets up an appointment, or he cannot contact the person for some reason, or the people say they are not interested in the offer. In this last case, the seller asks them if he could call them back six months later to check if they have changed their mind. The innocent (yet believing in his own cleverness) ones always say "yes, you can call me in six months, why not.", because they are sure the seller will not remember them anymore next week, let alone in six months!

And the seller probably would forget to call without a file card to remember him, indeed. With the tickler system, however, all he has to do is to move the card six months ahead in the box, and you bet the phone will ring six months forth...


vaguely based on the webpage at http://www.mlmbigdog.com/Tickler.html