I’ve read and heard some complaints about Slack in the past few weeks. Too much noise, too hectic, everything is fleeting, … I really like Slack. I have configured it perfectly for my needs. So here is my setup, along with some links to some excellent help center articles:
I only show unread channels in the sidebar. I don’t need to know which channels I belong to, I just want to see all unreads. If I need to write something to a channel, I can Cmd + T to where I want to go.
I mute all channels that are not absolutely necessary to read often. Since I show all unread channels in the sidebar, I do not miss anything from these channels. They just don’t result in an unread badge.
I have 3 sections: Starred, Team and Noise. Starred is for the 3 channels that I always want to see in order to remind myself to post to them regularly, the 2 coworkers I talk to most often, myself for notes and Slackbot for reminders. Team is for every team channel that is important, for easier access/visibility to those (our main team channel, our dev channel and our wip/feedback channel). And all team members that don’t fall into the Starred category live there. Noise is for muted channels that I really never need to see anything from but that I sometimes need to post something to so it would be weird to leave the channel and join every time I need to write something. Muted channels in sections or when not only showing unread channels are very, very muted. I have only 2 channels that fall into this category.
I use 2 types of reminders. I text “remind me to stuff at time” to Slackbot or I use “Remind me about this” for messages that I should reply to (or read more thoroughly) but not right now. This way I don’t forget to reply to any questions without the need to answer them when I see them. I don’t like to “unread” messages because of the unread badge.
If I really want deep focus without anyone having any chance of interrupting me, I snooze notifications and quit Slack. This way, I don’t get mobile notifications although I’m inactive. I also snooze notifications for my lunch break. If I want to be completely undisturbed by others while on a Slack call (so I can’t quit Slack), I set myself inactive, snooze notifications and hide the call from my Slack status. I also set myself inactive when I don’t want to be seen (Slack help article on setting up for holidays here) or when I don’t want people to expect a quick response. In order to not forget to set myself to active again, I let Slack ask if I want to toggle back to active (under Advanced in settings).
I use 1-click emojis: eyes for “I’m looking at this right now”, checkmark for “I’ve solved this issue” and thumbsup.
I pin messages that are important for a channel. I make sure important discussions happen in channels and not in group direct messages. That makes things easier to find again later and it creates less notifications. I don’t “save” important messages. My saved messages are pure kitsch. Someone telling me how awesome I am. Hehe.
I use search very often to find other important stuff though. I usually know which channel and keyword I need. I compose some messages for easier search access, for example with “Summary Weekly:” so I can find all meeting notes for a specific meeting more easily. Sometimes I don’t know a keyword to search for but a person or time and Slack lets you search with “from:” and “before:” and other modifiers.
We use tons of integrations for Slack. If you write a Jira ticket ID to one of our team channels, links to the ticket with a preview of status/type/assignee etc. The Github app pushes PRs to our dev channel, Heroku shows deployments, our bug tracker notifies about bugs, our logging provider about slow requests and Google Calendar reminds us about meetings. That’s just some, we really use a lot of great integrations.
That’s it, I think. Oh and I use our brand colours as a theme. But that has nothing to do with productivity, it just looks nice.