Five Quick Fixes for Your Least Productive Slack Habits

When you’re running a business of your very own, it’s tempting to want to do everything differently.

As entrepreneurs, we always want to forge our own path! We’re supposed to do things like stop assigning deadlines, or say “screw it” to going viral, or break up with a program like Slack because however useful it may be, it can drive you insane.

But the things that work for other people might not always work for you.

Some people need deadlines to keep themselves and others accountable. Some people leverage virality into major successes. And sometimes, an app like Slack just needs a little love – not to be dumped.

We’re big fans of Slack, but it ain’t perfect right out of the box – and while we may not be social psychologists, we figure the Slack divorce rate would be a lot lower if people just made their relationship with it a little healthier.

Slack can be selfish and demanding and rude. It interrupts you when you’re trying to work, it jumps in front of your face when you’re trying to concentrate, and it grabs your pant leg in its teeth and tugs at you when you’re not paying attention to it. (Actually, that last one might be dogs.)

Does that mean it isn’t a must-have tool? Of course not! But getting the most out of Slack is like winning a haggis-eating competition – you’ve just gotta dig into the guts.

Tinkering with Slack’s default preferences (and re-evaluating your own habits) will completely change the way you use the app – and it’ll make the overall experience infinitely less disruptive.

Want to see just how different it can feel? Try making these adjustments:

Ban yourself from Slack mobile

Delete the app.

Don’t even stop at turning off the notifications. Just delete it.

Sure, you can spend all your time on Slack - but why would you?
You can spend all your time on Slack – but why would you?

How productive are you really going to be on your phone? How badly does your company need you that if you go a few hours without checking in, it’s gonna disintegrate? Seriously – love yourself a little. If you’re out in the world and checking Slack on your phone, you need to just start carrying a book with you.

When you’re working, you’re working. When you’re not, you’re not. Doing that “checking in on your phone” thing? Make it impossible. Ditch the app and use that storage space for podcasts.

(Unless, you know, you travel a lot or whatever. You get it.)

Chill out on the notifications

Okay, okay – you’ve got a bad case of FoMO. You want to be in the know about everything that goes on.

Tough cookies.

Cranking up your Slack notifications is like bugging every office in a building and trying to listen to them all at once. You’re burdening yourself with a bunch of noise, and most of it’s irrelevant to you anyway.

Here’s a list of all the times you should get a notification:

  1. When someone says your name

End of list.

Sure, you can set yourself up for all kinds of notifications and alerts – but why bother, unless it explicitly, directly needs your attention?

Notification Settings

Having the power to monitor every little thing doesn’t mean it’s smart to do so. If there’s something somebody wants or needs you to know, it’s their responsibility to mention you by name and bring you into the conversation. If you set up notifications so that you can eavesdrop on every conversation with a topic that interests you, you’ll never get anything else done.

(Side note: If you and/or other people on your team share a common name, like Sarah or Horatio, make sure your screen names are different enough so that multiple people aren’t pinged on the same highlight word, and use @-mentions when you need to grab a specific person’s attention.)

Do not “do not disturb”

Along those same lines, there’s a trap built into Slack’s “do not disturb” function.

Do Not Disturb

Sure, it seems like a handy feature – except for the fact that its default setting assumes you only want to stop notifications long enough to sleep.

The “do not disturb” function is great if you want to, say, regularly set aside time for banging out some solo tasks. But don’t let it trick you into staying logged in all the time.

When you’re off the clock, you’re off the clock, remember? You don’t need to receive notifications when you’re not working – you don’t even need the app to be open. Log out, shut down, get on with your life.

And when you come back…

Stop reading everything

If you’re trying to read every message that gets posted in every room, you’re doing it wrong.

Slack talks about how it reduces the amount of emails you have to deal with, and that makes some people think it’s actually meant to replace your inbox.

This is literally completely insane.

Slack reduces your emails – it’s not meant to completely replace them.

If you treat Slack like an inbox replacement, you’ll hate it – and you’ll probably hate your life, too.

Don’t hold yourself to the standard of having to “catch up” by reading old messages. You’ll never be able to meet it, and you’ll lose your mind! The secret is to change your settings:

Mark As Read

Slack’s default is the first option, which encourages you to backtrack and catch up on a bunch of chatter that transpired while you were away. It’s like coming into the office first thing in the morning and having to listen to recordings of every conversation that took place after you left the day before.

There are better ways to spend your time. Change your settings to the second option – it discourages backtracking and keeps you focused on the present.

Mute almost every channel

Don’t you hate it when you have a bunch of unread messages waiting for you? Doesn’t it feel so satisfying when you don’t have any?

Slack wants you to think that every unread message actually deserves your attention. In reality, though, most of them just don’t.

Don’t trust Slack’s judgement. Show a little initiative and mute every channel that isn’t extremely relevant to your day-to-day work – and that’s gonna be most of them.

mute slack channel

Muting channels stops them from turning bold in the sidebar and indicating that there are unread messages inside – it actually prevents them from tempting and distracting you!

Making just this one change transforms Slack into an entirely different experience – and makes it infinitely less disruptive.

If someone tags you or says your name in one of those rooms, you’ll still be notified, and you can still pop in if you want to see what’s going on. You won’t, however, have a bunch of rooms constantly shouting invitations at you from the sidebar, distracting you from the things that actually matter to you.

If you wouldn’t sit in on a meeting taking place in a Slack channel, mute it. The people in there will ping you if they need you – and if they don’t need you, there are better things for you to focus on!

Simple as that

There you have it – five quick and easy adjustments that’ll change the way you use Slack.

Getting the most out of it takes a little tinkering on your part, but hey – running a business is always a matter of making adjustments as you go, you know?

Got some Slack advice of your own? Let us know how you’re making it work for you in the comments!

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