If you have a lot of recurring things to manage, it might help to develop a weekly or annual tickler file system. This becomes your system for managing the day-to-day tasks and projects and is much more effective than big piles on your desk. Here is how I have my tickler file setup.

• Daily/annual tickler folders: I created a hanging file folder for each month of the year – January through December (12 files total). Then I created a hanging file folder for each day of the month – 1 through 31 (31 files total). I put each item I need to remember in the appropriate month folder for when it needs to be handled or for when I need to be reminded to take action. At the beginning of each month, I place the daily folders (1-31) behind that month’s main folder. I review the items in the monthly folder and place the specific items in the appropriate day of the month it needs to be handled. This requires I check the tickler file on a daily basis so I don’t miss any important tasks or deadlines.

I keep these files in the top file drawer to the left hand side of my keyboard so they are within arm’s reach of where I sit and work at my computer during the day. This way it’s always quickly accessible and easy for me to use the system throughout the day without hassle.

tickler file system

Other ways you can do this include:

• Weekly/annual tickler folders: Another way you can create a tickler is with a weekly and annual setup. As with the first option, create a hanging file folder for each month of the year – January through December (12 files total). Then create a hanging file folder for each week of the month – Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, and Week 5 (5 files total). Put each item in the appropriate month folder that it needs to be handled, or you need to be reminded to take action. At the beginning of each new month, place the five weekly folders behind that month’s main folder and put each item in the week of the month that it needs to be handled. This will require you check the tickler file on a weekly basis so you don’t miss any important tasks or deadlines.

• Monthly tickler in print or digital format: Not everything you need to remember may have a folder or printed notice to go with it. So it’s important to have a system that keeps those things on your radar at the appropriate times throughout the month and year, too. If you’re a mostly digital person, maintaining these tickler reminders in your Outlook Tasks or email program may work best. If you’re a paper person, being able to print them so you can place them in your paper planner or your daily work folder may be another option. Maintaining your tickler file in a print or digital format is ideal for the monthly or annual recurring items you need to remember as part of your normal job responsibilities. This may include things like monthly staff meetings, quarterly board meeting preparations, legal reminders, membership renewals, and more. You can also add the one-time only tasks to your Outlook Tasks with start dates and due dates or type them into your monthly tickler list that you print so you don’t lose track of them.