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e-mail reference system

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  • e-mail reference system

    hello everybody,
    I am an Outlook user and I would like to have your advice about how to set up an e-mail reference system.
    Do you create folders or do you leave all the messages together and use "search" ?
    Your advice will be very useful, thanks in advance

  • #2
    Email Folders - A to Z

    I personally use email folders, one folder titled "Reference" and then subfolders underneath. It's just a simple list of folders similar to my general reference (physical) files.

    I'm hoping that Outlook & Windows searching evolves to the extent it makes using folders obsolete. The Mac OS is getting there with Spotlight search.



    • #3
      On a mac, I have folders Ref 05 and Permanent Ref. Everything I keep goes in one or the other. I use smart folders to index email into virtual folders. For example, one smart folder finds all email from the members of a committee I chair. Occasionally, this snags an unrelated email, but that doesn't matter.


      • #4
        Control-Shift-F is my favorite thing. Doesn't really matter where I put messages, the advanced search tool lets me choose which folders to search, what fields to search, and has some (though limited) ability to filter by date as well.

        I happen to put all non-actionable messages into one folder called "Saved". I have a permanent search saved that searched Inbox, Saved, and Sent. Whenever I need to find something, that's where I go. Easiest thing ever.


        • #5
          I file by project

          I've been using Clear Context Inbox Manager, which really rocks for filing e-mail. Clear Context puts a drop down combo box on the toolbar and you can either select an existing or type in a new Topic Name. When you type in a new Topic Name CC creates a folder for you in a location you specify (I use a .pst) and automatically assigns any e-mail with the same subject to the same topic. You can then later file a message, the whole thread, or the whole topic. It even creates sub directories.

          My e-mail reference folders/Topic Names look like this:

          Focus Area/Project/Subproject

          It's very quick, and very fast...


          • #6
            Nelson Email Organizer

            Has anyone in this group tried Nelson Email Organizer for Outlook?

            Great idea (and reviews!), but I've found it to be a tad "heavy" and ended up uninstalling it. I'd be interested to hear what other users have to say.


            P.S. This wouldn't work with Outlook because it's a hosted i.e. ASP software, but so far the best email reference system I came across in my research is Relenta ( In addition to folders, it keeps email organized by automatically associating it with Contacts and Contacts as Projects so I don't even have to think about filing anything.
            Last edited by GoGTDer; 03-23-2006, 01:58 AM.


            • #7

              I tried NEO a year ago and it seemed to difficult at the time so I uninstalled it.

              More recently I decided to give it a try again and this time it's really working great!

              I would highly recommend viewing as many of the video they have on their site. If after viewing them you don't think it's worth it, try something else. However, after watching the videos I was not only convinced, but also fairly well trained on how to use it.

              NEO is fantastic! Try it. You'll like it!


              • #8
                yes if your organize it in folders, helps you be more productive and efficient

                example if you're working on 3 business projects

                biz project 1

                biz project 2


                • #9
                  I've used NEO for years and just upgraded to 3.1 Highly recommend it.

                  Was wondering how to use it with GTD, so glad to hear others say it's fine !



                  • #10
                    Basically, I've got one general reference folder to search on, as well as specific project support folders for the various projects I'm working on as well. Makes everything easier to find, and works well to keep most things viewable on one screen.

                    As for search tools, on my home PC, I was using the Google Desktop Search tool for quite a while, and I found that was great for finding information . . .


                    • #11
                      I used to use folders, too. Then sometime last month I came across one of the pages on the web site for the book "Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook." It listed 3 tips that are explained more fully in the book. One of the tips said this:

                      "Filing E-mails with Outlook Categories"

                      "One of the principles of the Total Workday Control system is that you should get e-mails out of you Inbox as soon as possible. Otherwise they clutter your thinking and your workday. But where do you put them? You should of course delete those that are useless, and convert others to tasks if needed. But the rest you should file in a way easy to find later. Most people who file mail create multiple personal folders with names based on topic, and drag e-mail into those classified folders. I do not like this approach because it precludes viewing old mail in one long chronological list, and if mail fits two topics you will not know where to file it. Rather, I recommend you create only one personal folder, drag all e-mail into that folder, and then assign Outlook Categories to that mail based on topic. You can then create a custom view that displays collapsible groups of mail collected by category topic (see figure at right). This has all the benefits of multiple folders but none of the disadvantages. It is a fantastic way to file mail by topic, and a great way to find mail later. This approach is described fully in Chapter 7 of the book."


                      I gave it a try, did mass categorizations of existing emails in various folders, and threw them all into one "Old Mail" folder. So far, it seems to be working well. There is a bit more work involved than with the previous "drag and drop into various folders" method, because you have to assign each email message to a category before moving it to the old mail folder. This takes a few mouse clicks (I haven't foind any keyboard shortcuts) that the "old" way didn't require. However, as the excerpt above describes, the benefits for me outweigh the small bit of extra effort required.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Luca
                        hello everybody,
                        I am an Outlook user and I would like to have your advice about how to set up an e-mail reference system.
                        Do you create folders or do you leave all the messages together and use "search" ?
                        Your advice will be very useful, thanks in advance
                        A lot depends upon your system. I personally avoid the use of folders for email because it means that I have to have a separate system that is parallel to the filing system for my other information. Maintaining such a system is, IMO, very difficult.

                        I use folders in my electronic organizer where I usually file my emails along with all of all my other relevant information. That way its all together. Many, many organizers sync with Outlook, now, so getting emails in is no problem. For those that don't sync, Outlook Linker (freeware) allows you to set up hyperlinks to emails from almost any modern organizer in a snap.

                        Given the above, I usually add keywords to my emails instead of mainaining email folders. That way I have the option of using a search protocol or the organizer to find them.

                        Tom S.