How to's, Tips & Tricks
January 16, 2020

10 ways to optimize Slack for productivity in 2020

If you are one of the 12 million daily users of Slack, you know all too well that it's where all of your team’s communication happens, so keeping up to date and productive can be a tricky balance. That's why we created a list of ten ways you can optimize Slack for productivity in 2020: stop distracting notifications, quickly edit a message, utilize reminders, save notes, star messages/people/channels, show unread only, and much more! Also included are "power moves" to make you a Slack power user!

You are using Slack daily and pretty happy with it. But you’re wondering, can I use Slack to help me be more productive? The answer is a resounding YES!

With more than 12 million daily active users, Slack is where more work happens every day, all over the world. 

If you are one of those daily active users you know Slack is where all of your team’s communication happens so keeping up to date and productive can be a difficult balance. This is why in 2020 we’ve made a resolution to ourselves to make it a more productive and halpful tool to use. 

Here's 10 tips on how to get the most out of your team's conversations and optimize your Slack workspace for productivity.

The 10 tips below will help you optimize Slack and increase productivity.

TL:DR 

We’ve compiled a list of 10 super useful Slack commands/tricks to make you more productive and task-based while working in Slack. Each tip includes a bonus Power Move 💥 to take you a step further and help you become a Slack power user. 

  • 🔴 Stop distracting notifications and set ‘deep work’ time 
  • ✍️ Quick edit a Slack message
  • ⏰ Set reminders using a Slackbot
  • 📌 Save notes or memos in Slack to for quick organization and easy access
  • ⭐️ Star important messages, people, or channels
  • ✉️ Show only unread channels
  • 📲 Send direct messages via any text box
  • 🔎 Search for keywords
  • 🔕 Mute distracting channels in channel settings
  • ⛔️ Edit your notification preferences

Let’s dive in.


🔴 Stop distracting notifications and set ‘deep work’ time

Are you a zero in-boxer? Do you get distracted by the little red notification icon on Slack? Or just looking for a way to get into ‘deep work’ time boxes where you go dark from notifications? We have a few options for you.

Close or remove the Slack desktop application and use Slack in a browser, the red icon distractions get removed and you can check the browser for Slack messages as needed.

Or if you prefer the desktop version of Slack, you can still achieve the same goal by turning off all desktop notifications. 

A secondary option is setting up a Do Not Disturb and block time for yourself to dive deep into uninterrupted time. Teammates can still send you messages but your icon will be on DND so they know you aren’t responding to messages. 


Power Move 💥: Pause notifications on the go with the /dnd slash command, followed by a specific time of day or time frame.

✍️ Quick edit a Slack message

Did you ping the wrong person, or make a typo, or even sent the wrong link? You can click the up arrow key on your keyboard in the channel you typed your message and Slack automatically opens the editor.

Edit your message and click Enter to save the message.

Power Move 💥: Taking it a step further than deleting the text, is the strike-through the text and update it so people can see the change to the message.

⏰ Set reminders using a Slackbot

Do you remember when you first created your Slack account, you were introduced to a helpful assistant named @slackbot? Most people take a quick look at Slackbot’s tips and then forget about it.

You can use Slackbot to create to-do lists, create reminders, and so much more. 

Reminders are helpful for yourself and can also be a great passive-aggressive way to remind coworkers of a topic or project you are working on. 

Go to Direct Messages and select Slackbot, and type the following:

/remind [@someone or #channel] “[what]” [when]

For example:

  • /remind me to drink water at 3pm every day
  • /remind @Liza "Lunch time!" at 12:30pm 
  • /remind #team-alpha to “update the project status today” every Monday at 9am 

Check out more examples from Slack here. 

Power Move 💥: You can use /remind list to see the list of all your reminders, manage them and delete ones that are no longer useful. 

📌 Save notes or memos in Slack to for quick organization and easy access

Do you get tired of switching between apps when you want to make a quick note or jot down some ideas?

Like Slackbot reminders, you can simplify your life by consolidating all your notes in Slack.

Direct message Slackbot or yourself and your notes will stay there forever.

If you would like to highlight certain notes, you can Star them to revisit or even set a reminder to check back.

Some notes you can keep track of in Slack:

  • Passwords
  • Meeting notes
  • Lists of tasks for the week

 

Power Move 💥: Edit your message to strikethrough tasks that you've finished or use an emoji reaction to mark the whole list as complete. ✅ 

⭐️ Star important messages, people, or channels

Clicking the Star allows you to bookmark any important message, people, or channels. 

When you star a message Slack saves it and you can quickly find it again in the Starred Items in the top right corner of your Slack window.

Some things you might want to add to your Starred items:

  • Messages from other people that you need to remember
  • Important links or resources you may need consistently
  • Passwords or other information that will need to be reused

When you Star a person(s) or channel and they show up at the top left-hand column of your slack workspace under Starred. Making it quick and easy to never miss an important message from a teammate or manager.

Power Move 💥: it’s not a crime to be on top of your team’s and manager’s messages. Pin them to the top so you can quickly access them.

✉️ Show only unread channels 

Depending on your organization, you may have hundreds of channels. If you’re a member of more than 5 channels, we recommend setting your side panel to only show unread channels. 

Go to Preferences > Sidebar > Appearance and select Unreads and starred conversations.


Power Move 💥: You can Star any direct messages or channels you want to lock in place.

📲 Send direct messages via any text box

Would you like to be able to quickly send a message to a team member without having to search for their name in your Direct Messages list?

Rather than scrolling through your DM list, finding your team member, and then having to search for them if you haven’t previously DM’d them, you can message anyone from any channel by using the /msg command.

🔎 Search for keywords

Do you find yourself searching for conversations about a certain project or topic?

The quick keyboard command for that is:

  • Command + F (Mac)
  • Ctrl + F (Windows)

The search window will appear, and you can type in any keyword you choose. 

Power Move 💥: when searching if you want to look in a specific channel or DM use: in:#support [term] or @username [term] and you can narrow your search to a specific channel or conversation


🔕 Mute distracting channels in channel settings

Sometimes you find yourself with team members who love to chat, which can cause constant, distracting notifications.

This can get distracting and annoying to get a notification from these unrelated conversations and unimportant channels.

To stop receiving notifications from a specific channel, go to the channel setting, and mute the channel.

In the example below, the #random channel is muted and no more distracting notifications will be received.

Power Move 💥: To quickly mute and unmute a channel or direct message, open the conversation, type /mute in the message field, and press enter. 

⛔️ Edit your notification preferences

As you may know, you can mute notifications, but you also have other options in setting your notifications just how you want them.

You can change how notifications are handled. To name a few, you can…

  • Create an alert for just your name or username, or a keyword or all channel activity
  • Mute @here and @everyone messages

Here’s the keyboard combination to easily change your notification preferences:

  • Command +, (Mac)
  • Ctrl +, (Windows)

You can set your notification display and sound settings in the window that pops up.

We have found that by blocking all notifications in the preference setting is a great way to dive deep into work and not get disturbed.

If you go this route, we suggest you set those times to Do Not Disturb so your team members don’t expect an immediate reply from you. 


Conclusion

The most important thing is, to be honest with your self and recognize when Slack is getting in the way of your productivity. 

By applying these 10 tips (and Power moves) you can balance your productivity and efficiency while working in Slack and staying up to date with all of your team’s communications. 

Level up your productivity and Slack game today. 

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