Like most of you I struggled with the number of files I found myself dealing with. After a few attempts at different ways of organizing my nature images I settled on a simple combination of filenames and folder strcuture. The file names are auto sorting so this takes the tedium out of putting the images in the right order.
I've described this in more detail on a website I created as a text listing of my photo life list. I've also provided a downloadable blank copy of my global checklist (Excel) in case you are interested in doing something similar. It's not a commercial site.
photo life list