I want to share the story behind why I decided to build an electronic tickler file and why we are so passionate about the digital tickler file at fortythree.me. [EDIT: You can now download the app for iOS and Adroid here]
My challenge: Too many competing tasks
A couple of years ago, I was struggling with my productivity. Working as a management consultant, I had to juggle several projects for different clients at the same time. In addition, there were multiple internal projects within our firm. Also, there were some private projects like redecorating the apartment, planning holiday trips, sports, and so on.
Some days I was asking myself: “What the f***? There are so many things to do that I don’t even know where to start!” At the same time, new stuff was flowing into my inbox at an incredible speed.
I was increasingly occupied with organizing my tasks and re-evaluating priorities to get at least some sense of order amidst this chaos. I felt like the time that was actually available for doing my work was rapidly diminishing, much to my alarm. Thus, I embarked on a journey to explore productivity and time management systems.
My special sources of inspiration were Merlin Mann’s blog and David Allen’s Getting Things Done, which showed me the concept of inbox zero and principles of efficient work. The principles of GTD are extremely valuable for my daily work today. One tool stood out and became the central part of my self-organisation: the tickler file, also known as 43 folders system.
With every new topic coming your way, you need to decide whether you want to do, delegate, defer or delete it. (The famous 4 Ds) Today, the electronic tickler file is my tool of choice to defer tasks effectively.
Here is a recap:
The tickler file comprises 12 folders for the months of the year and up to 31 folders for the running month. I described how to build a tickler file in a previous post. If you want to defer an item to the future, you simply need to put it in the appropriate folder. It is hidden until it becomes due, when it will automatically pop out of the folder again.
This simple system gives me many benefits:
- I have a place where all deferred items go when I process my inbox.
- I can forget about these tasks because I can trust the system to remind me, when it’s time.
- I can focus on those tasks that are really relevant today.
- I can achieve inbox zero and minimize the time I need to rack my brain over the inbox.
- I have a lightweight planning tool.
- I can keep focused in this world full of distractions.
The tickler file makes my daily business much more efficient, more focused and more fun.
As I rarely work with paper and mostly in a mobile fashion, I always also wanted an electronic tickler file app on my smartphone. But there was none.
My solution: An electronic tickler file
I adapted office software and tried over a dozen available to-do apps as well as all popular productivity systems. Even though it is possible to create a tickler file in note-taking apps like Evernote or on boards like Trello, this is always cumbrous. Nothing gave me the full benefit of the physical tickler file system in the digital world. That is why, last year as a productivity enthusiast I started to build this specialized electronic tickler file.
Right now, it is available as an app on Android and iOS (still in beta).
EDIT: It is now available on the App Store and Play Store. Get it here.
For now, we focus on the core functionality, but there are plans to enhance the app while keeping it simple and easy to use.
It is worth giving the electronic tickler file a try! So go for it 😉