A new year has started, with a hangover from yesterday’s party. Not really a time for being innovative and productive. But it’s an ideal moment to do some easy maintenance.

Email

Let me get the fancy words out of the way first: GTD, Inbox Zero, Email Management, Productivity Workflow.

No seriously, I’ve managed to end 2013 with an empty inbox and a full OmniFocus list. Efficiency-wise I couldn’t have hoped for a nicer way to start the new year. But in order to get started, there are a few things I still need to do.

I work with an Archive per year for each of my mailaccounts. It’s still in line with what David Sparks writes about in his book, but it makes managing my archives a bit easier.

On all of my email accounts, I’ve got a mailbox labelled “Archive” where I dump emails. I don’t just send emails from friends here. Almost everything I don’t delete ends up in the Archive folder eventually.
David Sparks, p27, v1.O

So this morning, I started creating a new Archive 2014 folder for each of my accounts. I label them Account 2014 and place them all in Mail’s Toolbar. It makes for easy archiving and it’s faster to detect in which archive I throw my stuff.

As you can see, I’ve still got a few dedicated folders. It’s for emails I can never delete, like agreements with my landlord, or easy access to email confirmations from hotels or flights. I still have all of those backupped into Evernote too, but keeping the original around is useful from time to time.

At them moment I’ve got Archive folders going back as far as 2008. I’ve set an arbitrary limit for emails at five years. Everything older than 5 years is not really necessary to keep around and readily available.
So one of the other maintenance things I did this morning was right click on the Archive 2008 folder, and do an export to ~/Documents/Email Archive. So I still keep the mails, but I free up my mailquota. After exporting the data, I simply delete the Archive folder.
Being able to do this in one click really is the reason I’ve decided to split up my archives per year. I used to select the last email from 2008, scroll down, select the first one, do an export and delete but that takes ages..

Photos

I moved my Photo library to Dropbox, and now Transporter, a while back and have never looked back.
Doing the first move was a bit cumbersome but thanks to some great guides by Viticci and Sven Fechner I got it all up and running.

I created my own version of their rules in Hazel, but decided to create the folder structure by hand and let Hazel sort my photos into that, opposite to letting Hazel generate the folders on the fly as needed. So I quickly created a 2014 folder this morning, and let Hazel then sort my New Year’s Eve pics into a 2014-01-01 New Year’s Eve folder. (Always a difficult one, do you store New Year’s Eve pics in this year, or last year?)

Documents

Next up, Documents. I’ve got an easy system of doing Paperless. I scan my documents, rename them YYYY-MM-DD Sender Subject.pdf and store them in a folder ~/Documents/2013. All I needed to do was edit my Hazel Script slightly and point it to a 2014 folder.

I have folders, similar to email, going back to around 2008. But since storage is cheap, no need to archive anything.

In short, doing this hangover maintenance process is the perfect way do be productive on a day where actively doing something is the last thing on my mind, and allows for a clean start of the year.

Happy new year!