Build better tool habits

Virtual First | Communication Kit

You’ve got loads of collaboration tools: chat, video, email, project management software, and more. If you’re like most teams, you might use 28 different tools for basic tasks. You might even toggle through them up to 10 times per hour. Unfortunately, constant pings and context-switching can fragment our attention and decrease our effectiveness. Use this workshop to help your core team agree on which tools you’ll use and how you’ll use them.

50 MINS | VIRTUAL TEAM WORKSHOP

Step 1 (pre-work): Audit your tools

Before the virtual workshop, ask your team to jot down the tools they regularly use for collaboration, writing and designing, documentation, knowledge management, project management, whiteboarding, and more. Ask them to reflect: How are these tools working for us?

Step 2: Learn about healthy tooling

After you’ve kicked off your meeting, pull up tooling 101 (below) on your screen. Review it with your team and then discuss: Does this make sense? Did anything surprise or confuse you?
Tooling 101

Step 3: Grade your team’s tools

Once you know what healthy tooling looks like, you can give your habits a score. Fill out the tool use scorecard (below) with your team. When you’re done, reflect: How healthy are our tool habits? What’s the one thing we most need to change?
Tool use scorecard

How do your habits stack up?

Do you suffer from tool overload, or are your team norms just right? Fill out this scorecard to find out.

Step 4: Set some tool rules

Now that you understand your team’s tool tendencies, you can begin to build habits that minimize disruption and increase focus. Use the tool rules worksheet below to get started. When you’re done, discuss: Can we all agree to this? Are there any downsides or risks to these rules? (For example: If your IT team doesn’t support a tool you love, will it present a security risk to users?)
Tool Rules Worksheet

Kick bad habits to the curb

Use the worksheet to establish a “magna carta” for your team’s tools. Stumped on giving each tool a job to do? Try the tool rules cheatsheet.

Tools rules worksheet

Step 5: Decide on next steps

Once you’ve drafted your tool rules, put them somewhere that’s easy-to-find, central, and public. If there are any risks in your choice of tools, decide what you’ll do to mitigate them, and who’s responsible. Schedule an asynchronous check-in for 1–2 months later to see how your agreements are going. Then sit back and enjoy the sound of a ping-free afternoon.

More resources

3 easy wins

Build the habit

  • Tomorrow: Schedule times when you’ll check email and chat. Don’t check them outside that window.
  • Next week: When a teammate breaks a tool rule, gently remind them of your agreements.
  • Quarterly: Revisit your team’s tool rules. How’s it going?