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Transient File Organization

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Annaliese Dell
Find Annaliese on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and VBQuick.com.
Transient. Adjective. Defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary:

      passing through or by a place with only a brief stay or sojourn

We all have them. Files coming and going, under construction, waiting for review or contributions; files to fax or email; files faxed or emailed to us.

This article examines:

      1. Ways to Accumulate Transient Files
      2. Issues
      3. Simple Solution
      4. Jelly Beans and Folders
      5. Examples
      6. Automation
      7. Uploading
      8. Summary


Ways to Accumulate Transient Files

      1. You purchase an item online and download the receipt but the transaction will not appear on your books until you download the credit card transactions.

      2. You need to combine files to fax or email to someone.

      3. You received a file but are not sure how and where you want to keep it yet.

      4. You are composing a document or constructing one from multiple documents.


The above scenarios have one commonality: the files are transient or passing through; existing in one place temporarily.


Issues

Transient files accumulate quickly and saving them on the desktop eventually results in a plethora of files to sort through every time you need one.

If working on a document, moving it to a permanent home means navigating to that folder each time you need to work on the file.

If you collect multiple files from multiple folders for distribution, you must collect them, distribute them, and then move them all back when finished. This wastes time and risks misfiling upon return.


Simple Solution

Keeping transient files on the desktop is a great idea. The desktop is available from the Save and Open dialog boxes making it handy and quickly accessible. However, a jumble of files quickly becomes a navigational nightmare.

At some point in history, humans realized the need to organize documents and eventually invented filing cabinets. We use our computers as electronic filing cabinets every day.

Folders are not new and neither is using folders on the desktop but using them properly to optimize organization and automation provides additional benefits like:

      1. saving time
      2. preventing misfiling
      3. facilitating automation so you never have to:
            a. open a folder or;
            b. remember where your folders are located


Jelly Beans and Folders

I like jelly beans. I like the red ones best. A small bag of red jelly beans provides a quicker route to my mouth than picking red jelly beans out of a large bag of mixed colors. Why sort through mixed ones when I can simply open a bag of red jelly beans and enjoy!

Keep your transient files on the handy desktop but bag them up to create a quicker route to the ones you want.


Examples

Decide what folders you need. Here are some examples:

      Temporary Vendor Files
      Temporary Customer Files
      Temporary Receipts
      Temporary Statements
      Temporary Reconciliations
      Temporary Vehicle Files
      Temporary Vehicle Folders
      Temporary Upload Folder
      Temporary Employee Files
      Temporary Timesheets

Precede the folder name with the word Temporary to help you distinguish between permanent and temporary folders when you open them side by side on the screen.



Automation

You may wonder why some of these folders are listed. Once you begin using temporary folders, you will soon want to automate moving files between permanent and temporary homes. When you start doing that, you will see how much easier it is to download or save files to temporary folders and move them through automation.

For example, when you save files for a vendor, you must navigate to the vendor folder. With automation, you can quickly save files in the Temporary Vendor Folder on the desktop and move them to permanent homes at your convenience. This is handy when you are short on time as well.

Transient files collected over time are another example. I scan timesheets weekly but only move them periodically. Automation lets me move all the timesheets from the Temporary Timesheets Folder to their permanent homes with a button click. I do not open any folders, only my automation program.

For a free Microsoft Access download for moving transient files, see:

      http://www.recordkeepingfast.com/2011/11/database-move-files-record-keeping.html 

The format of the free database is .mdb so you can examine the code, incorporate it into your own databases or alter it to suit yourself.


Naming Folders

You need to select a folder naming protocol and stick to it to make automation easier.

For example, each one of our databases incorporates automated file moving. Our vehicle database contains a form that lists vehicle information like insurance cards, registrations, titles, pink slips, receipts, mileage, photos, etc.

The form contains two list boxes side by side: One for the temporary folder and one for the permanent folder as illustrated:

Permanent and Temporary Folder List Boxes for File Moving
The hyperlink addresses of these two folders are stored in the list box labels and created through VBA like this:

      1. Temporary Folder: address stored in a back end database
      2. Permanent Folder: address stored in a back end database. Each individual vehicle folder address is created through VBA like this:

            Permanent Vehicle Folder + Truck Number + Truck Name + QuickBooks ListID

All databases contain a function (fncPath) to create hyperlinks using the folder name:

      fncPath("Temporary Vehicle Folder")
      fncPath("Permanent Vehicle Folder")

This is where your folder naming protocol helps during programming.

For example, to create a hyperlink address for the temporary vehicle folder list box label:

      lblTemporaryVehicleFolder.hyperlinkaddress=fncPath("Temporary Vehicle Folder")

A bit of VBA lets you move highlighted files back and forth between the folders with a button click; without opening folders. No need to navigate around the computer because the paths are stored in the back end database. Or you can store them in each individual database.

Program your form to refresh the list boxes after each file move.

Additionally, program the form to refresh the list boxes on a timer interval so when you save files they appear in the list boxes in seconds.

Expand this principle for other folders. For example, Customers:

     
      Folder hyperlinks:

            Temporary folder: fncPath("Temporary Customer Folder")
            Permanent folder: fncPath("Permanent Customer Folder")
     
      Permanent Individual Customer Folder:

            Permanent Customer Folder + Customer Name + QuickBooks ListID



Uploading

The Temporary Upload Folder deserves additional attention for its functionality.

This folder has no permanent counterpart and is used for collecting files for distribution or upload including videos and pictures.

When collecting files to fax, email or upload to the web, you risk misfiling upon return. Additionally, you have to move them twice, once to the temporary folder and then back to the permanent folder. This is time consuming.

Instead of moving files back and forth, copy and paste them into the Temporary Upload Folder. Combine them, upload them and delete them. Eliminate moving back and forth and misfiling.

Another benefit is keeping them on hand until no longer needed. For example, do not delete temporary upload files until after confirming receipt by the recipient.


Summary

The desktop is an excellent place to keep transient files because of its availability from the Save and Open dialog boxes but soon becomes cluttered.

Combine the convenience of the desktop with the organization of a filing cabinet by creating permanent folders for transient files. Bagging up transient files into folders provides a shorter route to the file you need.

Copying and pasting files instead of moving them back and forth prevents misfiling and saves time.

Properly naming permanent and temporary folders facilitates automation to let you move files without opening folders or even remembering folder locations.

The Link Principle (Amazon and Barnes & Noble) expands on temporary folders including how to:

      1. number them for added functionality
      2. use them as to-do lists
      3. create lists of upcoming fleet vehicle registrations and inspections that include the vehicle information you need for renewal
7
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7 Comments
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Author Comment

by:Annaliese Dell
Thank you! I have no revision plans but will let you know if that changes.
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:lherrou
Great article! I picked up an idea or two, although I was already doing some of the things you suggest.
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by:Mark Wills
Voted Yes - great Article
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Learn the techniques to avoid forgery and phishing attacks and the types of attacks an application or network may face.

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by:Keith Alabaster
Voted Yes
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Expert Comment

by:younghv
Clever concept and well laid-out article. Thank you for writing it.

"Yes" vote above.
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Expert Comment

by:younghv
Hi KoiGirl,
I just saw that your article was awarded "Editor's Choice" - excellent decision by the PE's and well-deserved!
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Expert Comment

by:mbizup
Great article!

Voted "Yes" above.
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