organizing with a tickler file

I am so inspired from our post about Spring that I just couldn’t finish this organizational DIY fast enough! I’ve put together an organizational scheme for our household based on a system called a tickler file. This filing system is designed to keep all of your time-sensitive tasks organized and at the ready to be resolved. The first thing that I thought of filing is my car insurance statement and reminder for rent, which are two bills I can’t take care of online, and often overlook. This will also be great for maintaining chores like watering the plants or cleaning out the litter box!

We’ve decided to keep the tickler file on our table, to encourage a breakfast meeting!

For this system, all you really need is 43 file folders–one for each month and thirty-one for each day of the month. I picked up a package of folders at Staples for a few dollars. To hold the folders, I utilized a white paper holder that was the packaging for a scrapbooking kit I got for Christmas when I was in high school! I’ve been using it to hold various things for a long time. It holds the file folders perfectly, but you could use a normal file box you can find at Target or WalMart, or even craft one out of a cereal box! Lastly, you’ll need a way to label your folders. You can just write on the tabs if you like, but I preferred to print on some 2” round stickers. Definitely takes it up a notch!

I wanted to add a little pizazz to the stark white folder holder so I dug out my button box and went to town. This part took a while–at first I had a wavy design that ended up looking like driftwood–not what I was going for! But, I wanted it to be neutral, so I stuck with the black/brown/white buttons but went with a geometric pattern instead!

Hot glue is magical.

Now, before you start filing away all of your bills, reminders, and notes, you’ll need to organize your folders in a certain way. If you’re starting in May, the May folder will be at the very front, followed by days one through thirty-one. Behind those will be June through April. Because May is the current month, any task that is filed will be organized according to the day of the month it’s “due”. For example, if I receive my car insurance statement and it’s due on the 31st, I’d file it a week in advance, to make sure it’s taken care of before it’s past due. If your task is something that’s due in any other month, you just stick it in that month’s folder. Then, on the last day of the current month, you’ll fish out all of the next month’s tasks and distribute them amongst their appropriate days! Each morning, you’ll “pull” that days folder, and see all of the tasks that will form your to-do list for the day. If you can’t get all of it done, you just slip the reminder into the next days folder! Neat idea, huh?

Once you have your tickler system put together, it’s time to make a list of things to put in it! Some of my tasks include:

  1. watering plants
  2. cleaning the litter box
  3. dishes
  4. laundry
  5. tidying the living room
  6. grocery shopping
  7. grocery list making/meal planning
  8. budgeting with the husband
  9. errand running
  10. babysitting
  11. bills
  12. salon appointments
  13. doctor’s visits

It seems like my tasks fall into one of two categories: repeating and to-be-determined. For repeating tasks, I printed index cards that indicate the task and how often it’s to be performed. Cleaning out the litter box fell into the repeating category: we scoop it every other day and dump it completely every other week. So, I made two cards:

Word to the wise . . . kittens poop a lot.

Like, a lot a lot.

When the task is completed, I’ll re-file the card for the next day it’s supposed to be done! So easy.

Other to-do’s, like babysitting my best friend’s beautiful new baby is of the TBD variety, so when the task is scheduled, I’ll note it on a sticky note and place it in the appropriate day. For these sort of tasks, you might prefer to stash them the day before your commitment, to serve as a reminder and re-file them for the actual day so it makes it onto your to-do list or schedule. You’ll just have see what works for you!

Any sort of task that is important to you could go into this filing system. For me, I plan on tearing out workouts I’d like to try from the Shape magazine subscription I had for a year (but never, ever read), and filling them every other day. What a good way to keep your workout fresh!

What do you think? Is this a system that might work for your home?

Happy organizing!

xoxo cat


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