You are probably thinking this is a file to hold jokes or funny stories – not really. It’s more of a system to definitely keep your busy life on track. You are probably thinking “why would I need that when I have all kinds of apps to track my life”. Sad part is many of us don’t really use them to our best advantage because you still hear people say that they forgot an appointment or someone special’s birthday or anniversary. And what if there is important paperwork that is needed on that specific day and you can’t remember where you filed it – somewhere safe I’m sure. So you can laugh at older people still in the workplace using systems they invented when they were young – but they still work. Let me share the story of the “tickle file”.
On my first big promotion to executive secretary (a step up and out of the correspondence pool) I worked for the gentleman responsible for being the line of communication to all 20,000 fashion stylists who worked in the field, hosting home parties for a clothing company – quite exciting in its day and very profitable for a small company that started out selling hosiery door to door. One of my main responsibilities, all before computers and electronic tracking, was to be sure he never missed key appointments, always had his travel booked well in advance since he visited the many regions on a regular basis, and never missed the most important items such as birthdays, weddings, graduations – that’s what made the company so special – the personal touch. He suggested I use a simple file – 31 hanging files in the desk drawer with each day of the month. Then in each folder would be letters, contracts, and a variety of greeting cards – a very foolproof way to never forget. Only bad if you didn’t look in that particular folder each day (or in advance of the weekend on Friday). That was 1968 – fast forward to today and I still have a similar system in place along with the reminders from Facebook, Outlook, excel spread sheets –and I always know where the correspondence is if a hard copy is needed (especially the signature pages!) as well as “tickles” for some of the other staff as “gentle nudges” for their follow up.
The secret is, find a system or combo of tools that work for you and really have a daily practice of using them, and you will never have that sinking feeling that you missed something important – like following up with a client who asked you to contact them on a certain date – or that recital for your little one. Helps to keep all those promises we make!