Festive Tech Calendar 2021 – Build good habits with Viva Insights

Build good habits with Viva Insights

End of the year is coming. Many projects must be finished before the next year. Back-to-back meetings, multitasking, no time to rest from a job… I know, but the next year will be different… STOP! Bad habits never change if we do nothing. January won’t change it! 

There is a tool in Microsoft Teams that can help you with the task. Microsoft Viva Insights. It is a tool that we can use to analyze our work behavior, find toxic patterns, and build good habits. Personal Insights are a personalized information and recommendation about your work. In this app you can plan your time, block time for focus time, analyze your mood, and much more.  

This article is part of Festive Tech Calendar 2021 https://festivetechcalendar.com

Personal Insights overview  

Personal Insights shows personal information just for you. You can access it from Teams (dedicated application) or from Outlook (add-in). Each way provides information and features relevant to current context (for example, in Outlook you can get additional information about meetings/tasks). There is also central Dashboard where you can view and configure all Viva elements. 

Main components: 

  • Teams application 
  • Outlook add-in 
  • MyAnalytics Dashboard 

Teams application 

The application shows all your personal information and allows you to connect with colleagues, use Virtual commute, book focus time, etc. You can easily install it from Teams App Store.  

How to install 

How to install Teams app
  1. Open Apps store 
  2. Search for Viva Insights and install the app 
  3. Installed app will appear on the left-hand menu 


  • Stay connected 

This feature provides an easy way to stay in touch with your colleagues. You can pin important people, set up meeting reminders, get meeting suggestions, get outstanding task suggestions and more.  

Stay connected
  • Protect time 

Block a few hours only for you, to focus on your task or project without interruptions. Teams will minimize notifications from your colleagues or meetings. You can book timeslot for one day or for multiple days. 

Protect time
  • Send Praise 

Recognize contribution of your colleagues and send them a Praise message. The message can be sent to private chat or to a channel chat. Easy and simple way to say someone that he or she is doing a good job.  

Send Praise
  • Reflect 

This feature allows you to become more aware of how you are feeling right now. Click on the emoji that match your current mood/feelings. Even this small moment of self-awareness has positive impact for you. 

  • Headspace 

Dedicated set of guided meditations from Headspace. If you need a few minutes to focus before important presentation or relax after a hard day – it’s for you.  

  • Virtual commute 

Finish your day and close all open thoughts. This feature allows you to go through all today’s tasks, close them or reschedule, prepare for the next day, clear your mind, and focus on your private life. 

Virtual commute

Outlook add-in 

The add-in adds additional features to your Outlook (both desktop and web). You will get tips, suggestions, best practices, and advice. For example, inline suggestions for your message or meeting, focus time management, information about tasks related to specific colleague. 

Minimal requirements: 

  • Microsoft Outlook version 1705 (build 8201.2102) or higher for Windows, or version 15.39.1010 or later for Mac. 
  • Add-in enabled by Administrator or added manually 


  • Prepare for your meetings 

It shows you upcoming meetings with detailed information. You can review documents, check confirmation stats, book preparation time, etc.  

Prepare for your meetings
  • Track email and document open rates 

Insights generate open email/document report. If you send an email to 5 or more internal users Insights generates the report and shows it in Insight’s pane. 

Track email open rates
  • Follow up on your requests 

Viva Insights shows all your request to your colleagues from the last 14 days (email messages). If you asked someone or sent a request – you can check it in the pane. 

Follow up on your requests
  • Book time to focus 

Book time can help you protect your time for focused work. You can setup it directly from the Viva pane in Outlook. 

Book time
  • Add important people 

If you want to highlight messages and task from your manager, key customer, or PM from very important project you can use Add important people feature. When you get an email from that person you will get a notification from Viva. 

Add important people
  • Set lunch hours 

Protect your lunch time! Book time dedicated for you to take your lunch. No meetings, no eating between other tasks, no cold lunch. 

Set lunch hours
  • Plan your time away 

New way to configure your offline. You can plan your offline time, create automatic reply message, notify colleagues about your free days (Viva shows list of people that you collaborated with in the last 4 weeks), resolve meetings (decline or cancel), book time to prepare for your offline and finish required tasks. 

Plan your time away
  • Check quiet hours impact 

We often check and send email outside of our working hours (even 24/7) but it is not a good habit. This feature allows you to check who responded to your email outside of working hours and help your team to balance between work and life. 

Check quiet hours impact
  • Inline suggestions 

Outlook can display inline suggestions based on an AI. Suggestions appear during reading or composing email messages or meetings invitations. For example, if you want to send an email outside of working hours, you get a message to delay your email to match your colleagues’ working hours. 

Inline suggestions

Full list of Viva Insight features in Outlook add-in is available on About Viva Insights Outlook add-in | Microsoft Docs page. 

MyAnalytics Dashboard 

In the Dashboard you can find all statistics and data related to your activity. Information about quiet days, work patterns, focus time information, etc. You can also configure your insights – manage your work week, configure focus time, enable delayed delivery. 

MyAnalytics Dashboard

How to end your workday with Virtual commute  

One of the most important things to do before you finish your workday is to close your day. Close it and focus on your private life. If you do not finish it, it will stay with you. You will think about tasks, about emails, about projects. You will try to solve things that can wait for the next day. Work will consume your mind and won’t let you rest. In the short-term you might think that’s good (I can do more), but in the long-term you will be more tired and stressed. 

Virtual commute is a great tool for finishing your workday. It is very simple but powerful. 


Configuration process is very simple – all you need to do is to set up reminder for your Virtual commute.  

Click ellipsis (…) then Settings 

You must select days and hours for the reminder. You select any day(s), but you can set up only 1 time for all selected days.  

The reminder will arrive within 15 minutes on either side of it (for example, if you set reminder for 4:30 pm, it can arrive anytime between 4:15 pm and 4:45 pm). 

Configure Virtual commute schedule


  1. Review and close out current tasks

Virtual commute shows open task in Microsoft To-Do (with reminder set for today or with due date for today). If you have no tasks for today this step is skipped. 

If you use a different tool for task management (e.g., Jira, Todoist, Trello, Azure DevOps) you can use this step to go through open tasks in your tool.  

Review and close out current tasks

**If you do not use Microsoft To-Do, it’s a good idea to create a recurrent task in Microsoft To-Do to keep this step visible in Virtual commute. 

  1. Add new tasks 

In this step you can add tasks to Microsoft To-Do (directly from Virtual commute). Of course, you can use your own task management tool during this step.  

Free you mind, add anything that can be important or simply got stuck in your head. 

Add new tasks
  1. Preview of tomorrow 

In this step you can check list of upcoming meeting for the next day. Do not be surprised if you forget about something or need some time to prepare. 

Preview of tomorrow
  1. Opportunity for reflection 

You can select an emoji that represents your current feel and mood. If you feel bad or you’re very tired select it. If you feel great select is as well.   

I strongly recommend doing so – this step allows you think about your emotions, throw away any bad feelings, think about good or great things that happened today.  

  1. Completion 

At the end you can use one of Headspace guided meditations to relax after a workday. 


That’s it. The workday is finished. You can focus on your family, friends, you can read a book or play a guitar.  

You will back to your work-related tasks tomorrow. 

Be the master of your time with Protect time 

Meetings, tasks, meetings, tasks, more meetings… 

We spend a lot of time on meetings and managing tasks between meetings. In many cases we work between meetings – we waste time on too many meetings and try to do our job on 15-30 minutes blocks (mixed with emails, chats). This kind of work is far from ‘productive’. It’s simply not possible to focus on a given task and do it properly when you do not have enough time. 

Research show that we need up to 20 minutes to focus on a task after a distraction. Imagine that you have 30 minutes block for your task, and you have 3 emails and 2 chats in between. No time for your task! 

How to deal with it? 

Focus time in Viva Insights lets you book time in your calendar for your work. During this time, Teams minimize notifications from colleagues (chats and meetings). You can spend focused time on your job, not bothered or distracted by others. 

Focus time

The next very important thing to consider is a lunch time. We spend lunch time talking with colleagues, chatting, reading presentations/reports/documents. Lunch time is regular work time with some chewing and drinking. I know people that eat on meetings (mute rules) or skip the lunch. It is not a good practice – it is very bad one! Bad eating habits can increase stress level and lead to health problems. 

Viva Insights lets you protect time for your lunch. It simply blocks your calendar and protect time from other meetings. Simply as that. Can you do it without Viva? Yes, now you don’t have excuses. 

Set lunch hours
Calendar with Lunch time and Focus time

Build a good habit 

You can’t build a habit in one day or one week. It requires time, patience, and repetitions. Each day you practice a good thing you build a habit. Small steps accumulate and at the end you can get huge and surprisingly good results. We often focus on short-term effects (I will lose 20kg in 2 months) and when effects don’t fit our expectations we stop.  

Habits require time – months not days. Set up your Virtual commute and finish it day by day for 6 months. Do the same with protect time and lunch time. Effects will surprise you. At the beginning it won’t be easy for you and for your colleagues (you will spend time alone on your job, you won’t accept any possible meeting invites). 

It takes only few minutes every day to finish tasks in Virtual commute and only few minutes to configure lunch time and focus time for months. Do not wait for new year’s resolutions – configure it right now. 

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