The 43 Folder System

Hey everybody!  Opie here!  The Christmas season has passed and we have moved into those blissful few days where no one knows what year it is.  Now to make New Year’s Resolutions!  Of course, we all know that keeping our resolutions is extremely difficult!  For example, my 2019 resolution of slimming down my rather round figure didn’t happen!  While we can’t help with your weight loss goals, Office Peeps has some fantastic ideas to keep your organization resolutions going strong.  Today, we’re starting with a simple way to keep your paperwork organized.

If I were to tell you that your working life can change with 43 folders and some determination, what would you say?  You’d probably say “Opie, is your bowtie on too tight?”  And yes, sometimes it is a little tight, I mean how else am I supposed to keep it on? It’s not like I have a neck!

But I’m serious!  It’s called a ‘tickler file’ or the ’43 Folder System’.  All over the globe, people use this system to help keep themselves organized.  In this post, I’ll share the basics with you, then set you loose to create your own system!

Basic Set Up

First, Gather 43 folders.  Hanging folders, manila folders, or even pocket folders will work, it’s your preference.  You will need to label 12 of these with the months and then date the remaining 31 with numbers, 1 – 31.  You’ll need to keep these in a visible place so checking your files is easy!  Our Marketing Peep, Melissa, uses this system to keep track of all the marketing stuff, like blog posts, flyers and email marketing.  Using a step file on her desk makes it easy to access.  However, if you don’t have room on your desk, a file drawer can work well too.  Some people have even put them in their planners!

What It Looks Like

Folder system image

I snapped this quick photo on Christmas Eve while we put the finishing touches on this post.  As you can see in the photo, the first file she keeps in front is today’s date.  The second file is the month. Using Brightly colored folders for the ‘Months’ help them stand out.  Behind the December folder are the rest of the days of the month, then the pink January folder.  After the January folder, the numbered folders begin at 1 to start the new month.

Melissa ends each day by moving the current day to the back to the numbered folders.  Taking the next day’s folder out and moving the contents to her To-Do list helps her prepare for what she needs to do the next day.  She leaves the current day in the front as a reminder of today’s date.  Sometimes, there are items that she has to reschedule, to do this, she removes it from her To-Do list and puts all the paperwork into the new date she expects to complete the task.

Melissa uses the ‘Month’ folders for tasks that need to happen in that particular month, but doesn’t have a specific date yet.  It’s also a great place to put tasks that are more than 30 days out.  Take a look at this photo to see what her January folder looks like currently.

Folder System Check

Everything that needs to be completed in January is placed in this folder.  Some are simply an index card with a reminder written on it and others are paperwork or a file that needs to be worked on.  Next week, she will shift all this into numbered folders to assign them more specific due dates.

Why this is helpful

This system keeps items and tasks easily within reach.  It’s also is a place to store items you will need to access in the future without filing them down into your permanent filing system.  Because of this storing information for that meeting next month becomes a breeze.  And when you schedule that fantastic vacation, you have an easy place to store flight itineraries, travel brochures and other documents you may need.

It takes practice to get into the habit of checking the folder system daily.  Melissa was taught this system almost 15 years ago and she’s kept up with a system similar ever since, adapting it to meet her needs at the time.  There are lots of great ways to adapt this to fit you perfectly.  So once you get the basics down, don’t be afraid to alter it to meet your needs!  To learn more about the 43-Folder system, check out this website!