So. That 43 Folders Thing

I told you that I’d explain the 43 folders.

Well, it’s not just a site, though that site is pretty fabulous.

It’s what is also known as a “tickler file.” Google that and you’ll see all kinds of them. You can even make them with index cards in a card file, if you’re the hipster pda type. I’ve done that before, when I was using another organizational system.

But, the folders.

David Allen describes it:

“This is a system that allows you to almost literally mail something to yourself, for receipt on some designated day in the future.

Okay, mailing something to your future self is very cool. Mailing something that your future self is going to say, “Thank you forever, oh pooks of yesterday, for not letting me forget this today!” is more than cool. It’s potentially a lifesaver.

You can do this by writing notes to yourself on the calendar so that you will look at the calendar and see important info on the day you need it.

But “43 Folders” means the 43 folders that make up the “tickler file” that I mentioned before.

43 Folders

Since I can’t figure out why this is showing up as a thumbnail I’ll leave it for now. Maybe I’ll be able to fix it later. Anyway, click it, and it should pop up large enough to see.

I added extra saturation to the color and sharpened the image hoping you can see how it’s set up. There are 12 folders labeled Jan-Dec. The only one you see in this image is April because I’ve tugged it out far enough that it sticks up. The other months are behind it.

Then you’ve got 1-31 for the days of the month.

That’s it, the simplicity of 43 folders. (Pay no attention to the purple folders marked “Saving Sebastian” and “Rep Info.” Those are current projects I have stored with the 43 folders so that they’re easy to get to.)

I took that photo on the 3rd. What that means is that on the morning of the 3rd of April, I pulled out the folder labeled “3″ and checked it. If there had been a bill to pay or a birthday card to mail or some stuff to be filed that I didn’t have time to file earlier but knew I was supposed to have free time on the 3rd? It would have been waiting for me to pop into my inbasket and process. Then the folder marked “3″ went behind “April” in line behind “1″ and “2″ and waiting for the rest to join them in front of “May.”

And since my inbasket was empty, I merely had to process what was waiting for me to process on the 3rd.

Does that make sense? I hope so.

I’m not always good at ‘splaining things.

And then, of course, my inbasket was empty again, waiting for more stuff to process. Once something leaves the inbasket, it does not return. It gets filed or acted upon or even tossed in the trash. What a concept. An inbasket that isn’t piled full of stuff from months past.

(Well, it was a wild concept to me, anyway!)

I had them in my file cabinet until I noticed that I wasn’t looking at them daily. So now they’re on top of my desk, in front of my nose.

There you go. 43 folders. Simple, huh?

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11 Comments

Filed under Analog, Getting Things Done, Hipster PDA, Index Cards, Office, Office gear, The Other Football

11 responses to “So. That 43 Folders Thing

  1. So…uhhhh…

    I just tagged you. But was I supposed to tag you here, or on blogspot?! Either way – Tag! You’re it!

  2. Hey! You’re the first to comment here! And yes, I guess you’d better change the link, because it looks like I’m moving over here. Thanks for the tag!

  3. Isn’t all that file making a lot of work?

    Like the blue.

  4. Nope, not really. Because before you get started, The David tells you to have your supplies ready — at least 100 files, a P-Touch labeler, etc. In fact, you’re supposed to always have that stuff ready — make the labeler a permanent fixture on or by your desk. You get into a rhythm and it’s really fun. Plus, the 43 Folders don’t really take long to make.

  5. I might give in and read that book. I wasn’t going to, ‘cuz I’m kinda already pretty organized, but I tried your GTD cleaning the room advice which is causing me to move a pile of crap (I mean, really valuable stuff I still need) from one room to the next. Maybe when I get to the last room, I’ll just throw the remaining pile out the window.

  6. I would think that even for the “born organized” types, you might pick up a few techniques that you’d like. It’s great how that sometimes the simplest idea can pay off so well.

  7. Pingback: Mogore

  8. Keera

    I don’t get why people seem to think this David Allen guy came up with the idea – tickler files have been around at least since the late 19th century, used by administrative assistants and secretaries all over the world (and lawyers, too). Ain’t nothin’ new!

  9. That’s true, the tickler file isn’t new, but it’s new to a lot of people. It is just part of his system, though.

  10. i actually use polycarbonate based file cabinets because they are much ligther than steel cabinets ‘,

  11. Pingback: An Organizational Lifesaver: The Tickler File » Celeste Gonzalez

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