A few months back, I wrote about a slick Outlook add-in called Speedfiler (over at Download Squad). I had just started using it back in March, and instantly found it to be very useful in clearing my Inbox. I’ve tried many Outlook add-ins over the years, and ultimately I end up uninstalling them because of inherent flaws, or performance issues, that result from them. Well, three months after I started using it, I’m happy to report that Speedfiler is still a critical part of my Outlook experience. It even works with Outlook 2007 Beta, which is my Outlook weapon of choice now.
One of the key aspects of the Getting Things Done approach to productivity is keeping a clean inbox…driven through a rigorous process workflow. David Allen writes about eliminating as many of the barriers to processing as possible. As I wrote back in March, Outlook allows you to drag and drop your email into the folder of your chosing, but trying to do that quickly for dozens of inbox emails can really slow you down. It’s just easier to use a keyboard command to popup a selection window, start typing a folder name, and have it auto-populate in the entry field. Press enter, and the email is filed.
Outlook already does this, but it doesn’t have a ‘smart’ folder selector. In traditional Outlook, you can use a keyboard command to open a folder selection window, and as you start typing Outlook will find a folder you are looking for. But it will only look at the current level of folders, missing subfolders, and does not return options that contain your typed entry anywhere within the folder name. For example, if you maintain two folders one named ‘Support Management’ and the other ‘Services Management’, and were to type ‘mana…’, traditional Outlook won’t find these two folders at all. Speedfiler actually finds both, no matter where they reside in the folder structure. This allows you to maintain many subfolders, and you don’t have to ‘hunt and peck’ to find the one that you were looking for.
One other huge plus to Speedfiler is the ability to file sent messages as they are sent. This was one feature that I thought would slow me down significantly. In practice, it hasn’t. Now my sent messages are filed as quickly as by inbox messages.
Speedfiler doesn’t solve for Outlooks bigger flaws, but it certainly tweaks Outlook enough that its worth hanging on to.