I like GTD methodology. For a long time OmniFocus was my go to tool for my main list. Now I’ve switched to Redbooth (topic for another post) but I’ve never talked about my ‘tickler’ file.

Let’s start by defining what a tickler file is.

A tickler file is a collection of date-labeled file folders organized in a way that allows time-sensitive documents to be filed according to the future date on which each document needs action. Documents within the folders of a tickler file can be to-do lists, pending bills, unpaid invoices, travel tickets, hotel reservations, meeting information, birthday reminders, coupons, claim tickets, call-back notes, follow-up reminders, maintenance reminders, or any other papers that require future action. – Wikipedia

That’s the old 43 folders thing.

Seriously, who keeps folders though? I was super excited when my accountant told me that PDF/scanned copies of receipts was fine for the CRA (IRS, but they say ‘eh’ in Canada).

So, no, I don’t have 43 folders around to ‘tickle’ me.

I do have Evernote though and Evernote has reminders.


Let’s look at a specific use case, BeachPress. BeachPress is a week long ‘conference’. If you consider a beach house with 20 other awesome people a conference that is.

Anyway I need my tickets because Justin is mean and probably would pretend he didn’t know me and make me leave. 😛

Really, I’ll need to know the location of the place. But I don’t need it in my weekly review of items to do. I only need to see it a day or two before I need to get to the house.

Enter Evernote reminders. I simply drop the ticket in Evernote and set a reminder for 2 days before the date of BeachPress.

One of the best things about this tickler file is that I can set a new item up from any of my devices I happen to have with me. I don’t have to wait till I’m home and can put it in a folder.

Reminders can get me at my phone, tablet, or computer as well.

The only drawback is that it’s easy to end up with 42 things that ‘tickle’ you on the same day. At least if you’re piling things in a folder you can see that the folder is getting epically full and decide to space things out.

How do you remind yourself of things at the right time? Have another application that makes a good tickler file?

photo credit: striatic via photopin cc

4 responses to “Evernote as my GTD tickler”

  1. Aaron Avatar

    This is an odd coincidence. I just started to do this last week. So far it has proven to be useful, especially as I prepare to attend WordCamp Austin

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      I was off/on Evernote for a few years but it’s been more than a year now that Evernote is my ‘brain’. Not sure how I remembered and found things before.

      Oh wait I clicked around on my hard drive a bunch.

  2. Blair Wadman Avatar

    I have gone from using Evernote as a complete GTD, to just a tickler, to just references and now as a partial tickler.

    My main todo app is now todoist (which is pretty awesome). I used Evernote for a very long time but I have always struggled a bit with the non-folder nature of it. Tags are great and all, but with more and more notes in my Evernote, I sometimes struggle to find things.

    I now use Workflowy for general planning, brain dumping and even note taking. It really quick to get things down and I find the structured approach easier. The main problem is that it doesn’t have anything reminder features, so maybe not great as a full on tickler. I still use Evernote though, so will probably keep that as the main tickler place.

    Do you use separate stacks for each project?

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      I was using stacks for each project inside a ‘client’ stack but I’ve moved to tags for each client instead.

      I’ve not found (after a year+ of Evernote) that I’ve had any real issues finding things from the desktop app. Sometimes the mobile apps, but never from the desktop.