I found that I was using e-mail for three different things:
- Sending and receiving messages (duh)
- Keeping a to-do list -- that's what my inbox did
- An information-storage system -- I saved messages that contained some information I wanted to keep for future reference (e.g., an account number, an address, etc.)
Even with a decent folder structure, though, e-mail apps really aren't made for storing information you need to get at. That's not what e-mail does.
I could save each of those messages as a separate file ("Dad's_Dropbox_login.txt"), but that would get really messy.
Enter Evernote, which I had been using on and off since it first debuted -- the days when it saved things as just a single long stream of text.
I went through my entire folder structure -- everything from contacts to account info and receipts to... well, whatever. Unless I needed to save the message itself (in a CYA sorta way), I moved them into Evernote. Soon enough my Evernote folder structure approximated my (now defunct) e-mail folder structure.
Now my e-mail has a handful of small folders, and Evernote is loaded with all the stuff I might need. Even better, it's so much easier to add stuff -- Web clipping or uploading or whatever. No more e-mailing things to myself. And -- just in case Evernote isn't the 100-year company it wants to be -- I can archive all my notes as well.
My wife has a monster e-mail account, with literally thousands of messages she's saving for various reasons. So I get a kick whenever she sees my handful of folders with a few dozen messages. (Of course, my Evernote folders are bulging, but that's what it's for.)
Anyway, I wanted to share how I found EN to be a nice way to clear out my e-mail, make all those little snippets easy to find (and update), and give me something to show off to others: "Wow, you have a lot of messages in your inbox there. You ever think of maybe getting a note-taking app?"