As a company grows, communicating in Slack can begin to feel like drinking from a fire hose.
Information overload and fear of missing a message or losing a file can lead to an unsettling, low-grade anxiety. But, knowing how and when to use Slack can prevent the backlash that many people feel.
With some strategies for managing Slack, we can harness it as more than a communication medium and start to use it as a productivity tool.
1. Build To-Do Lists by Using Stars
You can use the “star” mechanism to build a to-do list. When someone mentions a task or message that needs attention, click the star icon next to the timestamp. You can then view all your saved items by clicking the star icon in the top right corner of the application.
I like to collect stars during the day and then process them during task-switching moments, or during dedicated time for communicating. When I’ve finished it, I “un-star” it to consider it done.
2. Talk to Yourself
You can actually message yourself in Slack—it’s a great way to leave notes to your future self.
You can limit the results to only things you shared with yourself by using an extra search term. For instance, if you wanted to find that pizza menu you shared with yourself, you can search for “in:@yourslackname pizza menu.”
3. Share a Message With Yourself
When a teammate shares a file, post, or message that you expect you’ll want to refer to again in the future, you can share it with yourself in your own direct message channel to preserve it in an environment with less noise.
Hover over a message and click the “Share with” icon, then choose to share it with yourself.
4. Remind Yourself and Others Automatically
The “/remind” command is extremely powerful. You can choose to remind yourself, someone else, or a channel of an event at a particular time.
You’ll get a helpful message from Slackbot when the reminder is due, and you’ll have an option to snooze it or mark it as complete.
If you’d like to see all of the reminders you’ve set, use “/remind list” to display them all.
5. Mark Things as “Unread” and Go Back to Work
When you read something “by accident” and prefer to deal with it later, mark it as unread.
Of course, this is temporary—meaning you might have to avoid a conversation or use “mark unread” again if you want to follow up later.
6. Explicitly Use Search Terms in Your Conversations
If a channel is talking about a topic you think you may want to remember, keep in mind the searchability of the conversation.
If I think the topic of the conversation is “concurrency management in the consumers” and nobody has used that exact term, I make sure to say it. I’ll either include it in a message and be stealthy about it, or I’ll include it with some brackets around it to let everyone know that’s what I’m doing. This ensures that in two months I have a pretty good chance of finding the old conversation.
7. Set Your Away Hours and Use Notifications Effectively
In a final bid to relax in your off hours, take the time to set up your do not disturb (DND) mode. During this time, the app will be quiet unless you’re directly mentioned.
You can set a schedule in your settings, or you can make ad-hoc periods with a command.
To reduce my anxiety about missing something, I’ve configured my notifications to include a list of keywords I’m interested in. This helps keep track of important topics that come up while I have my head down in a task.
In your notification settings you can find a list of “Highlight Words.”
While these won’t break through to send you a phone alert during a DND period, it’ll help you track the topics that are important to you. It’ll also make it easy to open a channel and jump to the mention that you wanted to be alerted about.
Slack is a fantastic tool, but it’s up to each user to figure out how they can use it to not only communicate, but to manage communication.
Try some of the strategies here, or share your own suggestions on Twitter @HelpScout!
This article was originally published on Help Scout. It has been republished here with permission.