Slack works best when everyone in a company uses it to have transparent, informative discussions in channels, which are organized around projects, teams, and disciplines. - Matt Haughey
Slack is a great tool that we use every day, but a lot has changed in the last couple of years and this work-from-home situation made Slack usage more frequent and perhaps sometimes a little bit overwhelming. So here is a guide with a few tips and tricks on how to use Slack to improve and not let it kill your productivity.
Let's try together to find that sweet spot with just enough communication to stay connected but not enough to kill your focus. :)
How to use Slack?
Prioritize project channels over internal channels and DMs
- DMs are private and when you ask a question in one, others on your team won't be aware of it. Usually, in all project related questions, there is some useful information that someone sooner or later will benefit from, so please default to the public channel if possible.
- DMs are great for private questions and chat or in case of sensitive information that you don't want everybody else to see. But before sending it, please think if this question or information is perhaps more suitable for the public channel.
Fewer messages by writing longer messages that scan quickly
- If you decide to send DMs, try not to send a message that just says "hi", "hey" or "hello" and then follow up with a question that you wanted to ask. The person on the other end will receive your notification and probably open the message just to see the indicator that you are typing.
- Writing a longer message with emojis, bullet lists, different types of text is fun, and when well-formatted, the reader can quickly scan through the whole message. This works for DMs and public channels and is especially useful for announcements or meeting recaps.
Use threads to organize conversations on specific topics
- Using threads can be a lifesaver when asking questions in the channel that will follow up with lots of ideas from other members. Threads will keep the channel organized and clean, without tripping the unread indicator for everyone else in the channel.
Don't be afraid to use emojis
- When someone writes something in the channel, you can quickly let them know that you have read the message and how you feel about it by reacting with an emoji.
- There are plenty of them and feel free to use them. Emojis can be surprisingly complex for being such a simple tool. They can represent real workflows and some people become masters of emoji storytelling. :)
Use "Do Not Disturb" to carve out focus time and mark outside-of-work hours
- There is a 'Do Not Disturb' option and don't feel bad about using it when you need it. Like we already said, Slack is here to improve and not kill your productivity.
Organize channels into groups
- It might be useful for you to organize your channels into sections, especially when you have a lot of them. For example, the group "Project A" would contain all channels related to project A, the group "Project B" all channels related to that one, etc. This makes it easier to track and scan through channels easier and quicker.
Mute or leave unnecessary channels
- Over time, you will join quite a lot of public and private channels and at one point, you'll realize that maybe it is just too much for you. Feel free to review them and leave the ones that you don't see to have benefit from.
Read more about it in this Slack article by Matt Haughey