Sometimes, Lync is annoying.

You’re working away, accomplishing something, and then…DING! Incoming IM. DING! They typed again. DING! Oh, meeting request. DING!

I’ll be the first to celebrate Lync’s benefits. But now and then, it makes me want to “DING” my computer with a hammer.

Why? Distraction.

Always-on communication is, unfortunately, always on. You can be totally focused on a report or marketing campaign…and one message disrupts your concentration. Now your mind needs to re-focus. Which takes time. Oh wait, more distraction coming in!

Fortunately for my sanity (and yours), there are ways to minimize Lync’s powers of distraction. I have documented 4 options in today’s post. You can use each one separately, or together.

They involve making changes to the Lync 2013 client software, instituting certain policies, and a combination of both. You can do this on your own, or implement office-wide. It’s up to you.

Option 1: Turn off the annoying “Ding!” sound when an IM comes in.

First thing to avoiding distraction? Turn off distracting sounds. You have three ways to do this for Lync 2013. Each one is more powerful than the previous one.

A. Turn off Alerts: Find Lync Options by clicking the arrow next to the gear in the Lync 2013 client. Go to Tools -> Options. Click “Alerts”.

lyncoptionsalerts

These options let you determine for which Lync activities you’re alerted. New conversations, invites, contact list additions. Turn these on or off as you desire. To minimize alerts*, use the options checked in the screenshot (but uncheck the box under “General Alerts” too).

B. Turn off Sounds in Lync Options: Alerts not enough? You can turn off sounds too. Still in the Tools -> Options window, go to “Ringtones and Sounds”. You’ll see these options.

lyncoptionssounds

In this screenshot, you’ll see that this box is unchecked: “Play sounds in Lync (including ringtones for incoming calls and IM alerts)”. Normally it’s checked.

If you uncheck it, the “Ding!” sound goes away.

If you don’t quite want to get rid of ALL sounds, you can leave it checked and check/uncheck the options below it. For instance, keeping sounds to a minimum when you’re set to Busy or Do Not Disturb. (More on this below.)

C. Turn off the “New Message” sound in Windows Sound Options: This is the most powerful option. Instead of unchecking boxes in Lync Options, open the Windows Control Panel and click Sound. In the “Sounds” tab, look under Program Events for Lync. It has a bunch of associated sounds. The “Ding!” when a new IM comes in is assigned to “New Message.” Click that one and select “(None)” from the dropdown.

Click OK. You have now completely removed* the “Ding!” sound from Lync Instant Messages.

There’s a great post on exactly this topic over at the Inside Lync blog: How to Stop Lync from Chiming In So Much

*NOTE: Turning off Lync IM alerts completely means you will no longer hear *anything* when an IM comes in. If you aren’t paying attention, a potentially-important message will go unnoticed. Make sure you’re okay with this – nobody wants an angry boss who’s been ignored for 2 hours!

Options 2: Designate Non-Lync Time.

Set aside a certain time each day (or week) where you will focus on your work and not respond to any communications (barring emergencies of course). Call this “Non-Lync Time.” Block it out in your calendar.

When you’ve decided on “Non-Lync Time,” advise everyone else on your team. “I will be unavailable due to working on X for this period of time. Please only contact me if there’s an emergency.” That sort of thing.

If someone disrupts your Non-Lync Time with an IM or meeting request, gently remind them that you are not taking messages. This can be done by either ignoring the window for a while, sending them a quick email, or a quick phone call. It’ll take time for the message to sink in.

Option 3: Make Use of Presence, and Detail Your Status.

Make it a habit to keep your Presence status updated. It helps tell others not only what you’re doing, but whether or not they should try to talk with you.

For instance, if you’re in Non-Lync time, post a Presence status like this: “NON-LYNC TIME, NO RESPONSES UNTIL 3:00 PM”. When you’re not in Non-Lync Time, you can say: “Available for Conversations”.

Option 4: Remember the Difference between Busy and Do Not Disturb.

The Presence options aren’t just there to change the color bar next to your photo. They also effect changes in your reachability.

If you’re set to “Busy”, hopefully your colleagues know not to bother you. But they can still send you IMs and meeting invites. And you’ll still see them.

If you’re set to “Do Not Disturb” though – you will NOT receive conversation notifications. Colleagues cannot bother you.

However, this requires your effort as well. You must remember you’re set to “Do Not Disturb”, and turn it off when your don’t-disturb-me task is complete. Otherwise you’ll be unreachable the rest of the day!

(Remember: your Lync administrator can also set custom Lync Presence statuses. Maybe ask for one for Non-Lync Time?)

Communications are Important. But so is Concentration!

Lync is disruptive by default. And there’s some value in that – after all, urgent messages need your immediate attention. But for those times when you need to concentrate? We can make Lync stop bugging you.

What do you think about Lync’s distraction-ability? Please comment or email. If you have another solution you use, please share it!

Make Lync Stop Bugging You – How to Shrink its Powers of Distraction
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10 thoughts on “Make Lync Stop Bugging You – How to Shrink its Powers of Distraction

  • November 16, 2015 at 9:32 am
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    Hi, do you have a fix for those annoying “Your connection to the IM conversation has been lost….”. Then 15 messages telling me every thing related to the status of the connection except something I care about. then i have to scroll up a whole screen to see the last message I received.

    Do we really need to know this? NO!!!!!! 🙂

    Thank you,
    Kevin

    Reply
    • November 23, 2015 at 1:12 pm
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      Kevin,

      Thanks for reading. Do you have full logging enabled on your server? That sounds like way more information than you should see after a conversation’s lost!

      Reply
  • January 28, 2016 at 2:51 am
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    Basically this shows that Lync is not really useful as a collaboration tool across more than 2 disparately functioning/tasked groups – since it assumes all conversations are equal priority and purpose. Until each conversation can have separate notification settings; slack, hangouts, hipchat and more will be the devops tools of choice.
    I’ll bet Lync dev team is aware of this gap, so I look forward to being able to tweak settings per group, if not by using mailing-lists, than probably by brute force per conversation.

    Reply
  • September 30, 2016 at 5:49 am
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    Hi, do you know how to prevent S4B from automatically switching my status to “in a meeting”? In Settings>Status I have set the status timers to max (360) and disabled both “show me…” options. Still everytime I leave my desk and come back, my status has changed to “in a meeting” and has to be manually changed back.

    Thanks
    Mark

    Reply
    • October 6, 2016 at 12:45 pm
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      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for the comment. Changing your status to “In a Meeting” when a scheduled meeting comes up on your Calendar (whether or not it’s a Skype Meeting) is one of Skype’s default behaviors. The only way I could think of you stopping that behavior was with a custom Group Policy.

      Reply
  • October 26, 2016 at 2:14 pm
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    Hi !! Is there an option in skype 4B , to have it set up where your chat does NOT blink or pop up on your screen . I would like just a icon on my taskbar, until i awknowledge it.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2016 at 7:30 pm
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    My job does requires that I connect to the network with Cisco Anyconnect when not physically at the office in order to login to Skype for Business.

    When I leave work, I put my laptop to sleep, and open it back up when I get home. Due to the fact that Cisco AnyConnect doesn’t automatically log me into my intranet when I’m at home (nor would I want to), Skype still attempts to login, fails, and pops up a modal window telling me that “Cannot Sign-In to Skype For Business”.

    In this state, even if I connect via Cisco AnyConnect, Skype for Business doesn’t detect the netwrok change and attempt to log me in again. It just sits there, with the error window up doing nothing. I have to close the window, then manually click the “Log In” button.

    I’d prefer that the error window not pop up, and Skype to detect the VPN conect started and attempt to login again.

    Is this possible?

    Reply
    • December 1, 2016 at 9:11 am
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      Nick,

      Thanks for the comment. No, I don’t think what you’re asking for – in that order – is possible. We don’t use Cisco AnyConnect, but we do use a VPN for intranet access when outside the office. Most of the time, Skype for Business will detect when there’s a connection and auto-connect…but if an error window is open, it won’t do anything until that error is acknowledged. That’s just what happens when Skype doesn’t understand the network conditions right away.

      Have you tried another tool for intranet access? I’d suggest experimenting with a few & seeing what Skype does. If you do get a different result, please share it here – I’d love to know what works for you.

      Reply
  • May 2, 2017 at 8:26 am
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    Thank you for providing a link to this post in the post titled “Can You Turn Off Skype for Business New Message Alerts?” As my employer has just forced me to start using Skype for Business and my job requires periods where I need to focus and cannot be disturbed, I appreciate the tips presented here and will use them!

    Reply

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