How to's, Tips & Tricks
August 21, 2019

Why Slack Reminders are so Critical

Slack reminders are great for same-day notes to yourself... Once a reminder is set, you'll get a Slackbot message saying so. Things like remembering to ask Suzie about when the next office D&D meet up is when she gets into work tomorrow, picking back up that content brief in a few hours to review one last time, or reminding your whole team about the card for Cathy in the break room. They are endless, mindless tasks we need a little nudge on.

Slack was initially released in August 2013 as a “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge”. Six years later, hardly anyone knows the meaning behind its acronym name, but it still lives up to its definition and maybe beyond it. The same way Xerox overpowered all of the other photocopying machines, Slack overpowered communication for many businesses, both big and small. While the main reason we all love Slack is the way that the app revolutionized the way we handle teamwork, sharing ideas and business communication, the company’s full mission is to “make work life simpler, more pleasant and more productive”. We’ve got the “pleasant and simple” part of the statement covered with the ability to send RuPaul and cat GIFs to cheer colleagues up, but how exactly does the app help us with our productivity?

The easy answer to this question is “with reminders”. The complex answer to this question can take days to explore. Since we do not have days, we’ll concentrate on five crucial ways Slack reminders can help you stay on top of your workload and bring your productivity to the next level.

Actually Reminding You About Stuff

The first and most straightforward way in which Slack reminders are great is that they simply work as reminders. Yes! They actually do what they’re meant to do, woot! Need to send an email update? They got you. Need help carving out time for a lunch break? Slack will be there for you! The list goes on and on, but most importantly, Slack reminders let you pick any topic that you want and set a reminder for the exact day and time you need to remember something. Reminders also work super well with recurrent events, so no more missing that weekly report: simply type in “/remind me about the report on Mondays at 4 pm” in the @slackbot channel and voila! every Monday at 4 pm you will get a bouncy notification reminding you to get your reporting hat on.

The additional bonus point is Slack’s flexibility on how exactly you utilize the reminders - you are able to review and delete old reminders using just one command and the opportunities for usage are endless. You can even build them into existing processes. For example, try using Slack reminders for the team meetings where the agenda seems to be forgotten by all but the meeting organizer. Set a recurring reminder to nudge everyone on a team Slack channel to review and update the agenda a day before the meeting. We know you thought it was impossible to have a meeting that isn’t a waste of time, but it is possible, we swear!

Helping You to Keep Your Focus

Reading email, meeting, working on a project, coffee break, chats with a coworker, another meeting, email again - that’s a very brief description of what office workers go through every day, with the vicious cycle repeating multiple times a day. Every time the focus of the person shifts, it becomes harder to concentrate. The struggle to keep up with all of the incoming sources of information can get unbearable at times and introducing an additional tool that will dilute your focus feels like madness and in a way, it is. A 2001 study by Rubinstein, Evans, and Meyer concluded that when experiment participants were asked to switch between different tasks they lost time and became less productive. As tasks got more complex, participants lost more time each time they had to switch tasks.

Here is where Slack comes into play. Since the tool is used throughout the day for constant communication, storing all of your reminders there makes perfect sense - it’s one less switch for your overworked brain and thus more saved time and a sharper focus for tasks that actually matter. Plus, it’s got sweet colors and you can customize the look and feel so it can look real purdy for you at all times.

Similarly, Slack’s ability to create reminders out of existing messages helps keep your focus since reminders do not simply show you the action you need to take, but provide context, making it easier for you to switch to the work ahead. The only downside to this feature is the inability to set custom time frames for the message-made-reminder, but the Slack team seems to be taking note on this improvement.

Integrate with Everything You Need

Since Slack has long ago evolved beyond being just a messaging tool for companies, the way you use reminders can and should evolve past that too. Take a look at the list of all of the apps that are integrated with your team account — are there any that you use on a daily or weekly basis? Chances are there are a few apps tied directly to what your team does, whether it’s pager alerts, new ticket alerts, or somebody linking an internal document for the team to collaborate on. Keeping everything you may need in your workday at hand is a great option for you to get more things done. Adding reminders to this toolset can make you nearly unstoppable. This is your chance to feel just like Gene Gray, minus all the death and destruction. Here are a few examples of how you can use reminders with integrated apps, but feel free to experiment with a different option to establish a process that is tailored perfectly for you!

  1. Use Google Drive notifications to create a reminder to review documents and spreadsheets before reporting deadlines or meetings.
  2. Use Halp notifications on tickets to set reminders to go back and troubleshoot the issue after following up with another department.
  3. Use Twitter notifications to create a reminder to go back and reply to the customer’s tweet.

Work with the Whole Team

There are very few jobs that you can do productively without any collaboration whatsoever, and for the most part, people rely on other people in order to achieve the results that they want. It really does take a village, and a Slack village is efficient AF. Whether it’s writing code, brainstorming quarterly plans, or even trying to schedule a meeting, two heads are better than one. Two heads are also twice as likely to forget a small but important detail, and the probability grows with each added head. As a truly useful and user-friendly tool, Slack knows about this human bug and solved this problem quite elegantly: reminders in the app do not need to be personal and can be shared with teams or several teams at once, depending on who is in your channel.

Setting up reminders for the team may not be a huge innovation, but the way Slack reminders remove the need for constant control sure feels revolutionary: you can simply open your @slackbot, enter the command + name of the channel and your whole team will be reminded of whatever you want them to be reminded of. Similar to your mom putting up signs around the house with a countdown to Mother’s Day, but way sleeker and not in your face.

As a bonus, consider this feature a way for you to communicate with the team when you cannot do it in real-time. This can be especially rewarding for remote teams that aren’t in the same timezone. Sending GIFs at the end of each workday to thank everyone for the good work or reminding them of somebody’s birthday has never been easier. A lot of teams that use reminders in these non-orthodox ways love these tokens of appreciation.

Re-thinking your use of Slack Reminders

Slack reminders are a relatively small feature that can surely improve your day-to-day experience both with Slack itself and with your daily workflows. Use Slack resources to learn more about the opportunities to automate your work in order to take care of the mundane tasks that might tend to slip your mind.

Remember that Slack is a complex infrastructure that can be used in a plethora of ways, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different setups while you’re searching for the perfect one. Introduce reminders to your team and brainstorm to see what communal responsibilities are better taken care of by a robot rather than a human. Most importantly, do not be afraid to delegate the work, the worries, and memory capacity in order to be truly productive.

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