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Day 17

Don't Be A Slave To Slack

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Slack, the instant messaging app for businesses, is an essential tool for many of us in the modern workplace. It boasts 8 million daily active users – the vast majority of whom don’t have a choice to use it or not. That decision was made by someone else in their organisation.

Although we often don’t have the ability to choose our communication tools in the office, we can make them work better for ourselves.

Strategies

Follow these strategies to make Slack work better for you.

Pick the right level of notification

The culture of your organisation and the work you do will dictate the importance and urgency of Slack notifications. In a fire-fighting environment, you may need to be instantly notified if something is going wrong. However, most businesses don’t require the always-on-fix-it-now mentality we’ve been led to believe.

There are 3 levels of notification in Slack: 1) Notify me about all new messages; 2) Notify me about direct messages, mentions and keywords; 3) Never notify me.

We suggest using the third option. Use the second option if you find your regularly miss important messages. Avoid the first option – a constant bombardment of notifications from your team will destroy any productivity.

Muting channels

Slack allows you to mute a channel when the conversation isn’t important. You won’t receive any notifications about content in a channel when it’s muted.

The classic business diagram – The Eisenhower Matrix – plots urgent vs important work to help prioritisation of tasks. Consider a similar approach to muting channels. If a channel doesn’t regularly feature communication that is both urgent and important, mute it.

Do Not Disturb

If notifications are essential for your day-to-day work at least block notifications when you aren’t working. Slack’s Do Not Disturb feature makes this possible. Disable notifications between the time you step away from you desk in the evening until the time you return to your desk in the morning.

Hiding the badge

The Slack badge is the red circle that appears next to the Slack app icon. It has been designed to grab your attention and pull you into conversations. As most conversations can wait, we recommend turning these badges off.

To turn off badges…

  1. Click the panel with your company name in the top left of the app
  2. Click ‘Preferences’
  3. Scroll to ‘Sound & appearance’
  4. Unselect ‘Show a badge on Slack’s icon to indicate new activity’

Do you really need multiple devices?

Slack is conveniently available on web, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, MacOS, Windows, Linux. But this ubiquity is not a reason to install the app on every device you use.

Ask yourself these questions…

  1. Do you absolutely need Slack out of hours?
  2. Do you absolutely need Slack when on the move?
  3. What’s the worst that could happen if you don’t read a message for 8 hours?

If the answer to the first two questions is no, and the answer to question 3 isn’t so bad, keep Slack to your desktop only. Don’t install on any other devices.

Encourage positive messaging practices

Slack is a team communication tool and if you use Slack, you clearly don’t work in a silo. Speak with everyone in your team about developing a code of conduct for Slack: “how do we want to use Slack?”

Here are some practices to start with...

Are you nervous about making any of these suggested changes?

If you feel your work could suffer by making any of these suggested changes, make one change at a time, live with it for a week and if your work is just as good, make the next suggested change. You can always revert a change if you or your boss feels the results are negative.


Would a co-worker benefit from these strategies? Share this article with them as an early Xmas gift :)

Author

Fraser Deans

Today's article was written by Fraser Deans. Fraser is a Digital Product Designer and founder of The Wholesome Technology Company, focused on practicing and spreading ideas for living well with technology.

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