The BizTechTalk podcast by Dan Keldsen has had a number of discussions with interest to people who follow knowledge management. Last summer, he spoke with Josh Jacob, President of X1, about Jacob's approach to personal knowledge management, More is More - The End of Email Triage. This podcast has me thinking about my rather detailed filing system.
The core idea behind Jacob's approach: stop deciding what to do with your email after you read it. Just get it out of your inbox once you've read it and rely on your desktop search tool to recall the information.
His claim is that deciding whether to delete something eats up mental process cycles, thinking about whether the email at hand will ever be useful in the future. This is something that we usually don't know at the time. In fact, I frequently find useful emails sitting in my deleted mail folder that I need to recall a tidbit of information. Storage is cheap, so don't sweat the kilobytes. On top of the stop-deleting discussion, even deciding where to file something eats excess cycles, so don't. I've heard this argument in favor of GMail's decision to hide the delete function -- you've got tons of storage and search: don't worry about delete.
Beyond the problem that I really don't want to keep the obvious worthless stuff, I have one quibble with this in that the real need behind getting back to old emails is not getting the email, it is getting the information IN the email: phone numbers, names, stuff. So, my ideal world would take desktop one better: give me a mechanism to find these tidbits, rather than strictly search across email.
Don't forget, of course, X1 is available for free at the individual level (download the free Enterprise Client).