I managed to figure out an optimal solution for managing the thousands of emails in my inbox, folders and sent email.  Some of you might think I'm crazy but basically you will need to make these fundamental changes:

* No use of Folders - Including the Sent Email folder. 

* Keep all your email in your inbox

* Direct all sent email to your inbox

Are you still with me?  How does this work?

Step One:

Threaded conversations is a way to manage your email by subject while ignoring the FW: and RE:  The first step is to sort your email by 'conversation', it's an optional column. To activate the conversation field first go to your inbox, right click on the field headings and select Field Chooser.  Click and drag 'Conversation' to the header.

Now just right click conversation and select 'group by this field'.  All emails linked to each conversation will be listed under that particular group.

 

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Step Two:

Get rid of all those folders!!  Outlook uses search folders which is much better as the same email can be tagged in different search folders.. and by deleting a folder doesn't delete a message.  You are now moving away from having email with the same conversations filed in your inbox, folders and sent email which makes it difficult to find a thread.

Go through each folder and create categories based to your likings.  I keep it simple i.e. campaigns, travel, project x, HR etc.

Once you do this, move all of your emails to your inbox and delete the folders.

You can then create a search folder (right click on search folder and create your criteria) for each category listed and these emails will automatically show up in the folder.  You can also add criteria so emails are automatically displayed in certain search folders.  For example, you can tell outlook with x name to automatically be categorised.

Step Three:

Setup a rule so all your sent email is automatically sent to your inbox.  This will ensure you can read the entire conversation of a particular thread.  You can also quickly delete sent emails as they show up in your inbox - works great for email management.  Click new rule and follow the wizard.

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I then went through and deleted about 4,000 emails that weren't required anymore.. it's a great way to manage your email..

Let me know what you think?