How to prioritize when you are a part of too many Teams

As Teams becomes popular, a new issue crops up. You are suddenly a part of too many Teams. Not to worry. Here is how you handle them effectively. (Reading time 7 min).

Too many teams poster showing many teams logos and question marks

Why will I have too many Teams?

The answer is simple. You are ALREADY a part of too many Teams – you just don’t know it. Why so? Because all that is happening in ONE place called Inbox. How may different contexts are currently in your Inbox? You will never know!

Too Many Teams is NOT a problem

This is the first thing to understand. By starting to use Teams, you are getting more visibility and clarity about what your work involves. Each Team is a unit of work you are a part of. It could be a departmental Team or a periodic review Team or a time bound project. In any case, you can see a list of Teams upfront – without any searching.
This is an ADVANTAGE.

Rearrange Teams based upon your priority

Just drag Team names and keep the important things on Top. Most probably, your Departmental team will always be on top. Other projects may come and go.  You decide the order. Only you can see your customised order.  This way, even if you have too many Teams, it is more focused and easier to manage.

Delete unwanted Teams

Many of us create Teams for learning how to use Teams. Genuine need. But what we forget to do is to delete these Teams when the learning is finished. Just delete the unwanted ones. This is possible only if you are the Owner. Consult other team members before doing this.

Archive completed projects

This applies to project oriented Teams. Projects have a start and end date. When the project is finished, you don’t want to delete the Team – but you can archive it. Once archived, it is not visible in the list of teams.

To archive a team, click on the wheel button (Manage Teams) at the bottom of Teams list and select the desired Team – … – Archive Team.

Manage Teams button


Archiving a team makes it read-only. Nothing is deleted. Content is available for search. The Team can be revived at any point in time.

Leave unnecessary Teams

You cannot prevent people from adding you to Teams. But if you are added by mistake or you don’t need to be there (for whatever reasons) you can always leave the Team. If you left the Team by mistake and you are genuinely needed, don’t worry, someone will notice it and add you back!

The only reason I can think of is that you were added by someone as a part of a test Team – for learning the tool. When the job is done, leave the Team.

Only look at Bold Team Names

You do not have to go to each Team every day. Just look at Teams which have unread updates – which is shown as bold names.

How often to look at Teams

Simple answer: As often as you go to Inbox.

If there is no pending notification

Look at it first thing in the morning (just after Outlook). Then onwards, see it at least post lunch and post tea.

If there is a notification

Check the notification as early as possible. Minimise notifications to @mentions only to start with.

Hide Teams where you are not actively involved

Ideally, if you feel like hiding a Team – think again – do you need to be a part of the Team at all? If not, leave. If yes, it means you have a role to play. If that is the case – why are you hiding it?

Menu showing Hide options for Teams

In other words, it is very rare to have a genuine need for hiding a Team. Make sure you have a good reason for hiding it. If not, don’t hide.

Pin channels where you are actively involved

You will soon have many Teams and many Channels. In a given project, you should monitor the General channel and only those channels which are relevant to you. To ensure that you don’t miss any activity in the channel important to you, Pin the channel . Now the Channel is at the top of the list – even above Teams.

Monitor the Activity tab

@mentions , replies, likes, etc. go here.

Menu showing Teams Activity tab with symbol indicating number of unread items

Once you click on any item in the Activity tab, it will jump to the relevant Team – Channel – place within the channel.

Look at the various symbols which appear on top of the tabs. These have a meaning. Different icons for @mentions, replies, trending posts and so on.

Search /unread

This is a very quick method – requiring minimal navigation. Go to the search box and type /unread

All unread messages across Teams will be shown. Read them quickly and go to the relevant ones which require a reply / action.

Minimise Notifications

Customise notifications for laptop and mobile separately. Also make use of the quiet hours features in Windows (Focus Assist) and your mobile (depends upon the OS and the model). The objective is to minimise distractions while maximising responsiveness.

Working across tenants

Thanks Subramani for mentioning this problem. At the time of writing this article (4 Jan 2020), there is no easy way to handle this. You cannot see Teams across tenants unless you switch. You cannot pin channels across tenants.

On the desktop, there is a workaround – keep multiple instances of Teams open in various browsers (in addition to the desktop app). Each instance can be switched to different tenants.

On mobile, there is no easy way – multiple mobile devices 😉 or keep browsers open on mobile as well – both of which are impractical options. Let us hope something happens soon. Make sure you vote for easier multi-tenant switching in the UserVoice feedback site. Microsoft is working on it at this point.

Learn more about effective Teams Usage

See all the posts I have written about Teams
Teams Knowledge Pack

Teams logo to indicate end of article

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