Sunday, January 01, 2006

Monthly Tickler File in My Documents

We have talked about the value of having a “Repeating Task List” to prevent you from having to rethink the details of those activities that come around every month or every year. I found that many entries on my list had to do with updating documents. One entry would remind me to update and print the “Welcome to School” letter. Another would remind me to update the student handbook. Many of the documents would require no more than simply being pulled up on the computer, printed, and Xeroxed. The list gave me the freedom not to hope I remembered what routine information needed to be updated and sent to other people.

I took this idea one step further. Wouldn’t it be great if all of those routine documents were organized in one place? Here is how you can accomplish exactly that:

1. In My Documents, create a new folder and name it “Monthly Ticklers.” (Right-click and from the menu, choose “New” and then “Folder.”)

2. Double-click on Monthly Ticklers. Inside that folder, create 12 new folders. Name each one with a different month of the year.

3. Identify the documents you will need to update or use at a particular time of the year and drag them to the appropriate monthly folders.

4. On your Repeating Task List, make an entry that says, “Check Monthly Tickler on Computer.” You will need to make this entry 12 times, one for each month.


From now on, as you work through your Repeating Task List, each month you are going to see a reminder that will send you to the Monthly Tickler folder on your computer. I would suggest blocking out some time when you can work through all of the documents in that folder at one sitting. Some months may have few, if any, documents in them.

In all too many schools, intelligent people sit around racking their brains trying to remember what routine documents need to be handled. All too often the reminder comes when others start to ask, “Where is the XYZ form that we always get this time of year?” In the worst cases, those documents are created from scratch because people either can’t remember where (or even if) they have saved the document last time it was used.

Our business is filled with opportunities that require creativity and spontaneity. Our business is also filled with repetitive tasks. We can spend all our time, energy, and creativity on overdue repetitive tasks nipping at our heels. Our alternative is to set up simple systems that handle the routines and remind us our obligations at the appropriate times.

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