Minimize distractions and stay focused with AI-powered updates in Microsoft 365

This article was originally posted in the Microsoft 365 blog.

It’s no secret that work and life are speeding up. It’s not uncommon to spend all day in meetings, writing emails, or on the phone, leaving little time to focus on what is most important to you. Many of us have never-ending to-do lists and spend time working after hours to complete pressing tasks. MyAnalytics, your source of personal productivity insights in Microsoft 365, was built to help with these very challenges—and today it’s getting a refresh.

Via a dashboard, Insights in Outlook, and weekly email digests, MyAnalytics provides insights and AI-powered suggestions to help you work smarter. A new MyAnalytics experience—generally available starting today—makes the insights more outcome-oriented in four key areas: focus, wellbeing, network, and collaboration. For example, insights that previously showed you the hours you spent on email, chats, calls, and meetings outside your working hours over the past week now show you the number of days you successfully disconnected after work over the past month. That way, you can set goals and build habits that help you achieve more quiet days.

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To make these insights even more actionable, in the coming quarters, we’ll introduce the ability to create personal plans to make it easy to set goals and take steps toward improving your work patterns each day. Focus plan will be the first in this series of MyAnalytics updates. By helping you plan focus time on a regular basis to complete your most pressing tasks and limiting distractions, focus plan in MyAnalytics will help you balance collaboration with meaningful output. Today, we’re unveiling the core elements of the focus plan.

Create a personal focus plan

Productivity preferences are different for everyone, but experts on deep work report that setting aside regular blocks of time to focus on challenging work can have massive benefits. With the focus plan, MyAnalytics will help you establish a daily focus time routine. The focus plan will offer you the flexibility to have daily focus time booked automatically based on your availability, or surface suggestions to book focus time manually as you work in Outlook. The automatic booking algorithm will prioritize booking morning hours, if they are open, so you can be at your peak capacity for tackling challenging analytics tasks.

MyAnalytics Dashboard with Focus tab selected. User clicks “Try it out” to get started and has book focus time automatically every day. Outlook calendar shows focus time slots in green.

Maintain your focus routine

If you receive a meeting invite that conflicts with booked focus time, Outlook will provide inline suggestions and weekly email digests with actionable messages—making it easy to reschedule the focus time right from your inbox and maintain your routine.

Email digest shows your week in review, calling out number of days with booked focus time. Also helps plan the next two weeks, highlighting days with no focus times or conflicts.

Make time for outstanding tasks

To help you set aside time for pressing tasks—tasks you promised to complete for coworkers and tasks they asked you to get done—new inline suggestions and adaptive cards in email digests will be introduced in Outlook. These will use AI to surface outstanding tasks from emails, making it seamless for you to reserve focus time for them.

Inline suggestion in Outlook highlights an outstanding task for the person user received an email from. User adds the task to an upcoming focus time slot.

Work uninterrupted during focus time

Information worker studies find it takes an average of around 23 minutes to return to your original task after interruptions or self-distractions. To help limit these when you are trying to get deep, meaningful work done, Microsoft Teams will automatically switch to “Do Not Disturb” during focus time. Your status will be set to “Focus” and you will only get notifications for messages that are urgent or from contacts with priority access during focus time.

A notification indicates focus time has begun. Teams automatically enters “Do not disturb” state and shows the user’s status set as “Focus.”

We’re on a journey at Microsoft to build technologies that empower you to do your best work. Visit the new MyAnalytics personal dashboard and check out the weekly email digests—generally available today. They can help you better understand your current work patterns and get actionable insights to prioritize focus, disconnect and recharge, keep up with important contacts and relationships, and improve team collaboration.

Stay tuned in the coming months for the preview of focus plan to Microsoft 365 and Office 365 Enterprise customers who have MyAnalytics as part of the E5 plan, as an add-on to E1 and E3, or with Workplace Analytics. Over time, focus plan will become available with additional plans that have business hosted email (Exchange Online).