Maybe you are not as forgetful as I am. Maybe you don't walk into rooms wondering if you had a reason or were just aimlessly wandering about your house. Not me. I rely on memory tricks like the Carnegie system. For work, I totally rely on my Receipts database for tasks and confirmation of what I did, sadly even twenty minutes ago.
My database dispelled the 940 panic attack in seconds when I pulled up the account and saw the PDF return.
That alone would not be proof of mailing but the other half of my proof is using a process. The process for snail mail is never close the task until the envelope is in the outbox.
In light of this most recent panic attack, I decided to share my Receipts database with you.
It's a collection of many interconnected forms so I won't include the code or a free download. I apologize but wouldn't know where to begin. I do offer a free download of the file mover on my Google Docs page:
If you decide to try it, see this page on my other site TheGenericDatabase.com that explains how to download, open and use other databases on your computer:
Back to the Receipts database.
Advantages of Task Lists
Crossing out or checking off tasks from a written (or typed) list provides:
- a sense of accomplishment you don't get from completing tasks you keep in your head
- a concrete record of exactly how you spent your time on any given day
- confirmation at-a-glance for sudden panic attacks when you wonder if you paid that bill or sent that invoice
- a place to get started for those fuzzy-headed mornings (we all have them so no use denying it)
- a way to plan your day to make the most of your time
- a way to loosely project your daily hours
- a record of how long certain tasks take so you can better plan future work days
Why Link Tasks to a Database
You might wonder what purpose a database serves when you can open your email application to view and organize tasks. Here are a few:
- The database can access, enter and change tasks while the mail program is closed.
- A form is easier to sort, filter and manipulate
- The database links Outlook fields to QuickBooks accounts. This lets me:
- list tasks for each QuickBooks account or;
- list tasks for categories such as credit card, bank, bill, etc. and;
- open a database form that displays information for each account that;
- also lists electronic receipts, statements and reconciliations for that account that;
- can be opened from the form with a button click.
- Last but not least for me personally: pretty colors. You can put any pictures you desire on your forms and use any colors that appeal to you. You will get a pleasant feeling every time you open a newly designed form. Adding pleasant feelings to your work day is reason enough in my book!
Microsoft Access and Outlook
My receipts database links to Microsoft Outlook using VBA and to QuickBooks using QODBC. The screenshot below shows the Task List form and a short video appears at the end of this post.
You should come away from this post with a principle. Even when I post code or screenshots, you should be able to apply the principles to the applications you use.
Do not get stuck on the fact that I use Microsoft Access and Microsoft Outlook. The principle is linking your mail program to your database to extend and expand your task organization.
That said, below is a screenshot of my task form.
I can filter tasks for account type and date. This lets me see upcoming tasks as well as tasks due today.
My programming knowledge was next to nothing when I created this database. I searched the Internet for how to access Microsoft Outlook from Microsoft Access using VBA. I copied the code, studied it and manipulated it for my needs.
If you have no desire to program, consider hiring a student. I personally know of one major company performing sensitive work using a program developed by local college students!
The programming needed to link a mail application to a database is relatively simple as proved by my limited knowledge at the time I developed mine. This leads me to conclude that a college student studying VBA could surely handle the task.
I could not survive a work day without my database. The convenience of using one central application instead of switching between Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Access saves time and aggravation.
If you are interested in more details concerning this particular form, let me know and I will write more posts about it.
Here is a quick video to show a student or developer what a task form might look like. Clicking on a task in this form opens another form with the QuickBooks account information. The form that opens searches the computer and lists all receipts, statements, reconciliations and upcoming tasks for the account and will also write a check to QuickBooks to pay on the account.