Technology - I'm using 4 tools to manage my e-mail:
- Outlook 2010 - I'm using Outlook 2010 in Windows 7, which is nice because they've created conversation based e-mails that will pull up e-mails in the context of the broader conversation. It will also connect e-mails to linkedin and facebook profiles. This can be good and bad. It will update contact pictures and contact information by pulling from public linked in profiles, which is nice. I also had it pull a contact picture over of a co-workers posing on the beach in a man-thong. Awkward. In a given year, I'm sending and receiving over 10GB of e-mail and I never delete anything. I use outlook's PST files to archive e-mail and a whole foldering system within that, which brings up the necessity of the next two tools..
- ClearContext - This tool has changed my life. It helps with intelligent tagging and storage of your e-mail conversations. Here's how it works: When you send an e-mail, it will prompt you to file the e-mail and bring up a series of suggestions based on who it's to and the subject line. That suggestion is a hierarchical series of folders that corresponds to a folder hierarchy in your PST file. The next time you receive an e-mail in that conversation, it will remember that and automatically tag and archive the e-mail out of your inbox. It allows you to deal with an entire conversation easily and remembers the tag as you reply to a thread.
- X1 - I've been using X1 to search my Outlook PSTs and inbox and I hate it. It used to be amazingly fast and I convinced many others to use it, because it would instantly find e-mails that I couldn't track down any other way. It's now slow, painful and unresponsive. Other than that, it's great. I don't know if it's the number of e-mails I've got, or my environment - but everything else works great on my system, except for X1. It can take 15 seconds just to launch it. I need to find something else, or figure out how to get the performance to be decent. I'd tried Xobni a while ago, but had it dog my machine down. I might have to go back to it.
- SafePSTBackup - This is a great tool. It allows you to backup your PST incrementally, while outlook is still running. I archive my PST's out to dropbox and this lets me not have to backup all 10GB every night. It's free right now and works flawlessly.
I wish I could say that I'm going with a zero-inbox philosophy, but my e-mail has been overflowing and I'm not dealing with it well, except maybe with how I archive it. I archive everything to a PST and never delete anything. I have two PSTs by the year, one for sent and deleted and another for everything else. I use folders pretty meticulously with top level folders like Customers, Team, Internal, Technologoy, etc and then build them from there. ClearContext helps simplify this in a big way.
I would have switched to Outlook 2011 (the mac version) a while back, but my company has not upgraded their servers to Exchange 2010 to support the platform. Hopefully by the end of the year. What I love about Microsoft Exchange is the real time syncing of my e-mail and contacts across multiple devices. This allows me to simultaneously have my e-mail, calendars and contacts sync'd up across my laptop, iphone and iPad.
Any ideas that I'm missing? Maybe a good search engine or better way to backup e-mail and deal with PSTs?