I used to use a shitload of folder in my email programs as well, at home and at work, but it’s GMail that taught me that there are other ways to organise your emails, by well…. not organising them! Ha!
GMail’s search engine is that fast and good that you can usually find any email in less than 15 seconds by just running a search on the few facts you remember about that particular email.
Cause frankly, by the time you need that particular email you’ve probably forgotten that specific criteria you need to know in which folder you stuffed that message in.
Do you organise by sender? By client? By topic?
Who cares, just “archive” them all, and run a query when you need it.
Of course it’s handy to be a bit organised, but folder are too limited for that. The GMail tagging system is way more flexible. You tag everything you get from a mailinglist for example and automatically remove it from your inbox, which basically is what you would do with a folder in classic email software.
But if some of those message contain stuff you might want to check out in detail later, or lets say download a phat mp3 mix by your favorite IDM artist, you have to copy paste emails into different folders etc, wasting diskspace, time etc… While in GMail you simply have to add another tag to that very same message, et voila, your done!
After getting into that, and realising how cool the system is, I started hating using boring old folders in Outlook at work an my sweet oldskool Pegasus mail client at home.
So I simply said “sod it” (in Dutch), and created myself an archive folder where all my emails go to rest now after they spend a brief period in my inbox. Also, in Outlook I’ve started using the “categories” feature as a way to simulate GMails tagging goodness, making it easier to find emails afterwards by searching the keywords.
Outlook 2003 also has a cool feature called “Search folders” which you can basically set up in a way that it makes it look as if you have the tag folders in GMail, if you create a search folder for each of your favorite tags.
Now if they would only give me a 2GB mailbox at work, it would be perfect!! :)