I am an email junkie. There, I said it. So the question is, what to do about it?
I have two problems with my work email (home is a story for a different day). First, I tend to save every message that isn’t outright spam or one-word answers—and it’s only recently that I started deleting the latter. Second, I have a file folder for everything, a habit that I started back when I first used Eudora in the mid-90s. It’s the second habit that is especially bad; it doesn’t scale worth a tinker’s when you are receiving over a hundred messages a day that are non-spam. (Yeah, I know. I threw up a little in my mouth when I wrote that.)
So what to do? First thing for me that really has helped is installing Google Desktop on my Windows machine. Much faster than the native Windows search engine, and with the double-control-key quick lookup, much easier to get into and use. But the next thing is to eliminate folders, and that is proving much harder. Because often the title line or even the content of an email doesn’t tell me which customer or software release it is in reference to, Google Desktop can’t find everything.
So I’m going to start exploring tagging. After all, it works well for me for Flickr/iPhoto. Here are some quick links about tagging hacks in Outlook:
- Tagging Outlook tasks
- Email tagging using categories and a custom edit-in-cell view
- Taglocity, a commercial tagging solution with a limited free edition, including auto-tagging
Somewhere there is another tool that I really liked at Microsoft—it collapsed all the messages in a thread into a single mail message, deleted all the redundant text, and trashed the original messages. Now that’s efficient.