The 4D Method to Finally Master Your Outlook Inbox

Are you bombarded with emails on a daily basis to the point that you can barely keep up with them? Have you already read several articles on better email management and are still feeling overwhelmed? According to studies, the average person spends approximately 28 percent of their working time on email management, which can be quite frustrating if not handled smartly and efficiently.


It’s possible that so-called procrastination is to blame for your difficulties; constantly deferring emails to later times will inevitably result in an uncontrolled, overcrowded inbox.


Is this scenario familiar to you? Don’t worry, you are not alone! This is why Microsoft created the 4D model for more effective email management, and it may be just what you’re looking for. Following the 4 D’s will help you keep your inbox organised and improve your daily email management. As a result, you may find yourself working more efficiently!


Lookeen: the search solution for better email management!

The 4 D’s for a tidy inbox: 


  •     Delete it
  •     Do it
  •     Delegate it
  •     Defer it


These are the 4 essential steps you should do the moment an email arrives in your inbox. Keep reading for more details!



D1: Delete it

In most cases, up to 50% of your emails can be deleted immediately – so don’t make the mistake of allowing less important emails to distract you! Do  you save email offers, sales, advertisements, and coupons out of fear of needing them later? Begin unsubscribing and blocking now! After all, this could be one of the primary causes of a clogged inbox.

Are the majority of the emails you save actually useful to you? If not, the first “D” is critical for you. The power of deleting is often underestimated but key for a tidy inbox!

For each email that arrives, ask yourself if it contains information relevant to what you do, if the information can be easily found elsewhere, and if you believe you will need the information in the next six months. Furthermore, if the information is critical to you, you may want to include it in a more formal document.

D2: Do it

 Have you gotten rid of all the spam and junk email in your inbox? Great, now let’s move on to dealing with the actual important ones. If an important task arrives in your inbox that can only be handled by you, the second “D” takes over – do it right away!

However, if it would interfere with what you’re currently working on, or if you feel you won’t be able to focus on it right away, it might be better to postpone it (this is when the fourth “D” comes in place).

As a rule of thumb, you should respond to important emails in less than five minutes.

There is no point in deferring a task if you can complete it in less than five minutes. According to studies, you can handle roughly one-third of your daily emails in less than two minutes each. You’d be surprised what you’re capable of right away!


D3: Delegate it

If you can’t delete an email but can’t work on it right away, it might be a good idea to delegate it to another team member, intern, secretary, or co-worker. Of course, this cannot be done for every email because it may degrade the quality. Delegating less important emails, on the other hand, allows you to focus and devote more time to your core work, allowing you to work more efficiently.

In this context, have you ever heard of the so-called 70 percent rule? It states that if you believe the person to whom you are considering delegating the task can do it at least 70% as well as you, follow the third “D” and delegate it.




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D4: Defer it


  •     Does the email require you to perform a certain action? 


  •     Does it require more than five minutes to respond to? 


  •     Are you the only person who can handle the email accordingly?


If you are unable to delete or delegate an email, ensure that you can focus on it appropriately. Squeezing it into your busy schedule just to get it out of your mind often leaves you feeling unorganized, and you’ll most likely end up delivering a task of lower quality than you could. Defer the email to a time when you can devote adequate attention to it. You should set aside specific time during the day to focus solely on important email tasks and projects.

Emails are a fantastic communication tool when used correctly, but don’t let poor email management be the source of your daily professional frustration. There is almost no way to avoid email communication nowadays, so you should devise a long-term strategy. This 4D framework could help you work more efficiently.

What are your Outlook inbox management essentials? Have you already heard about the 4D method? Feel welcome to discuss in the comment section!


See you soon,

Aline & the Lookeen team


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