OK, so I suppose it's cheating to move 11,539 items from my Inbox to an "Archived" folder and consider that "cleaning my Inbox for the New Year." (Here's one case where I hope our IT folks are not reading my blog). Even so, it feels so good to open Outlook and see almost nothing in that Inbox as we return to work from the holiday. So, here's my 3-step 2014 plan to keep it that way.
1) I've got a Misc folder now where I put anything I think I might need in the immediate future only. An Outlook rule purges that folder of everything more than 30 days old each week. This way, I don't have to do anything to keep it tidy.
2) I already have folders for saving truly important messages -- system instructions from IT, useful sources and resources, updates from HR and so on. I'm pretty good about filing those. Problem is, not everything I think might be useful beyond a month fits into one of those categories -- a big reason for last year's overstuffed Inbox. So ....
3) My new, stuffed-to-the-gills Archived folder has become the place for messages that I think I may want to find again someday. Yes, I know this is the moving the problem instead of fixing it, but I've resolved to go through the folder each business day at least through January and kill off a minimum of 100 messages. Hopefully that will at least pare things down to a more reasonable level at some point. And I'll still be able to start each day with a pristine Inbox (if not Archives).
If you've got another system that works for you, I'd be interested to hear about it in the comments. Thanks.