So... I've been doing the "Inbox Zero" thing for about 2 months. I've actually been really great at keeping up with my personal email, less so at work, where I'm barely treading water. I attribute this to three factors:
- I get 10 times the volume of work email than I get personal email
- For my personal mail, it's really easy to split things into "I need to care about this" vs. trivial email that I can safely delete without reading. This is not the case with work email.
- Gmail is very, very different than Microsoft OutlookI'll never be able to do anything about #1; that's simply beyond my control. I suppose I could get slightly better at #2. #3 is where I really, really need to keep moving and improving at my Outlook skills.
For personal email, I heavily use filters. Heavily. Gmail's filters allow me to apply a plethora of labels on an email/conversation, while still leaving them in the inbox. This is huge to me. The Inbox, to me, is the place for stuff I haven't dealt with yet. This is important. Once something leaves the inbox, I've dealt with it. Because the filters apply the tags (Gmail's replacement for folders) to the email whilst it's still in the inbox, I can simply hit "archive" when I'm done with it. It's no longer in the inbox, but it is still accessible when I'm filtering by the particular tag(s) that are applied to it. Adding to the usefulness of this is Gmail's conversation view -- additional replies to a thread automatically have the tag that I gave it! And the whole thread comes back to the inbox when a new message in the thread comes in. Brilliant! So easy to get context!
For work email, I don't use filters at all, because I want stuff to stay in the inbox. My default view is sort by flag. My inbox tends to fill up by the end of the day, because it's cumbersome to triage them from my phone by moving messages into the appropriate folder; whilst in Gmail I simply hit archive, using Exchange through ICS's regular email app, it's a many-tap affair. I switch back-and-forth between sort-by-folder and sort-by-subject to get context for entire conversations, and drag things on Outlook 2007 into the appropriate folder in the complex structure I've erected for things that I need to save, as well as the "archive" folder for stuff that I don't know how to classify.
If my company's Exchange server allowed POP3, I'd simply do all of this through my Gmail account; my life would be much faster and easier. But that would break nice integration with my work calendar. Ugh.
Am I doing this wrong on Outlook? Is there a better way?