My work email client is Microsoft Outlook 2007. I long ago gave up trying to file or categorize mail. Instead, once I am done with a message I either file it in a misc folder or delete it. The reason this approach works for me is because of the search function built into Outlook.
Usually, the message I am looking for was sent in the last 30 days. Unfortunately, Outlook can’t search the last 30 days. It can search last month or this month, but there is no search command for the last 30 days.
In the past, I used search strings like:
subject:"staff meeting" received:(thismonth OR lastmonth)
but I’ve found a better way. My new favorite search technique is to look in the days since one month ago. So, if it is April 2, I look for anything sent after March 2:
subject:"staff meeting received:>3/2
The string is quicker to type and I don’t have to wait for Outlook to slog through years of emails.
One word of caution: If you try to search from 2/29 in a non-leap year, Outlook will search for a very long time and find nothing.
Now, if Microsoft could just add a received:last30days option!