Like so many others around me, I fell in love with Slack when my company started using it as an internal communication tool.
At that time, there was just one icon in the sidebar. A hint that more would come, right? I used to look at it and wonder what life would be like if all of my clients invited me to join their Slack groups…
Fast forward two years. Today, there are six little icons in my sidebar. Six great groups, both open and closed. No clients so far, although I’d be comfortable suggesting it if the engagement would benefit from it.
I really enjoy interacting on Slack with all these different groups but it’s something I’ve set myself up for by constantly tweaking the notification settings and being proactive about leaving channels.
It’s inevitable that we’ll start talking about Slack fatigue at some point (See: That week I tried to unplug from Slack). The wonderful designers at Slack must be thinking very hard about how to design the experience so that people don’t lose themselves.
But hey, there are already plenty of customization options that you probably haven’t noticed. Take 5 minutes to review your setup!
I’m sad to see so many people get overwhelmed because channels are like wild mushrooms and they’re using the Slack apps out of the box.
#1: Carefully choose which groups you log into on your desktop and mobile apps.
This one is for people with multiple groups.
All of my groups are professional ones, so I have all six on the desktop app for my work laptop.
On my phone, I’m only logged into two groups. This is key – simply remove the urge to check in on conversations that are not 1) time sensitive 2) specifically directed at you.
#2: Do you really need to be notified on the mobile app?
When I lived in Tokyo, I shared the same timezone as all of my colleagues. Slack was the way to get in touch with me 24/7 and that was cool.
A few months after moving to Paris, I just turned everything off. As smart and considerate as the team is, there was just one too many @channel calls for lunch in Tokyo.
There’s no strict blackout – I’m still active on Slack and e-mail way outside of business hours, probably more than I should be – but the notifications had diminishing returns on my attention.
#3: Go through the settings on the desktop app
All right, this is the fun part.
Let’s go through some of the Preferences:
^ This one should be set to “Only for Highlight Words and direct message” for your main group(s). For less important ones, “Never” would be an option.
^ Just kill the little dot for everything except your main group. This will make a huge difference in how often you bring the app to focus.
^ Select one color for your main group, and another for everything else.
The visual cue will help train your focus to the appropriate level. A new comment in the channel for my main project should perk me up more than a general conversation about x. Even if I love chatting about x.
^ For channels where you just want to check the latest updates, choose “Do not scroll me to the oldest unread message, but still mark the message as having been read when I switch”.
^ There are three options in Channel List. It’s defaulted to the noisiest option, which leaves you with a long list of channels in the sidebar with some of them lit up. Star the channels that you’re most active in, and change this setting to “Hide any channels, etc., which have no unread activity, unless they are starred“.
^ For channels that have low activity or ones that you only need to check in periodically, choose “Mute channel“. I’ve started using this instead of leaving rooms, which can be a bit tricky in that it tells everyone that you’ve left.
And that’s all I’ve got for now! What works for you? Tell me at @tzs!
Edit: I added the last two on September 16th.