Anyone else feel like they have more Slack channels than they do hot dinners in a week? Yep. Me too!
Slack was a game changer for me it was a door opener to a remote team and communication became so much easier than email and even Skype. But it also has or had it’s moments of being an absolute drain on time.
I want to touch on 5 things that either will help you in your Slack bubble or just show you that you might be spending too much time in a Slack bubble.
1. The problem with Slack
Lets start off with what is bad about Slack? There are just too many notifications and distractions! Especially when you are a member of so many Slack Channels.
My advice to this is to implement a rule, this rule can be a personal rule not all Slacks are equal and it may be a community slack channel and little old you might not have the authority to cast a rule far and wide. This rule should be turning off all Slack notifications apart from private messages and maybe there are some but my point is get strict with yourself here, you probably don’t need to know when someone posts a message into the #beer channel. My other bit of advice here is see how long your conversations are here, I would say if your conversations in Slack have been over 10-15 minutes then pick up the phone and talk it through, I mean even Slack has the ability to call each other!
These two bits of advice will help mitigate that risk of getting stuck into a time drain.
Number 2, let’s be organised. One of the Slack groups I am in has nearly 50 channels! whereas others might have only a couple. The whole point of this tool is to make it useful, if the tool is not useful it’s not really a tool anymore.
However, that Slack Group that has nearly 50 channels, is fine because I am only a member of the “projects” that I need to be part of and this keeps the noise down. Organisation is one thing, but to have a group of 100+ people using Slack and only depending on #general things are going to get lost pretty quickly.
My advice here is just make sure you have the right amount of channels, a channel per project or specific topic but you probably don’t need another channel for a sub topic or maybe you do, just be mindful of that I think is my advice here.
Ah one more thing, when creating channels you can give it a description this is super useful, include things like start date, the reason for the channel and any other important information that people might need to see or refer to regarding that channel. Not all channels live forever! Or at least they don’t need to.
3. Keep on track
Now we have our Slack groups organised and set to not notify us unless it’s a direct message or an important channels. The next thing we need to consider is how to use the channels.
The whole reason behind creating all of those channels is that they have a purpose (you should have used the description to tell you what the purpose is) we want to make sure these channels are easy and agile to navigate and not bogged down with endless long messages amongst the important information or vice versa. If the information is important we need to make sure we can easily find it and get back to it later on. Another tip or bit of advice I would add here is that if you have those long messages that contain important information Slack also has the ability to use posts. Unlike sending a message in channel, a post offers additional formatting options and allows you to collaborate with other members.
Threads another great way of keeping sub topics in a channel under control. Because I started using Slack pre threads I have since found it quite hard for some reason to adapt I do try my best but it’s something we all might need a little coaching on.
Finally I mentioned collaboration… That’s a bit of a stretch, to be honest I do not view Slack as a collaboration tool, it’s a communication tool that allows me to speak to a group of people that have the same or similar goals, it can be done in real time if both or all parties are online but it’s also there when you get back to it to continue the conversation.
4. I am guilty!
I think the term is called “Slack Bombing”
Right, so nobody wants to see a big wall of text in their Slack channels but they also don’t need the continuous one liners. This is what I am so guilty of, well maybe I am and maybe I am not, the term “Slack Bombing” is normally referred to when you constantly deliver messages that have no reason or purpose, something like..
Remember, Slack is going notify that person with a private notification for each and every message you send. Like you if these are work colleagues they are probably going to be tied up in meetings, calls and other work related things, the buzzing of the phone is probably not what they need right now.
If something is urgent… then call their phone!
5. Mindful Mentions
Ok so I saved the best till last! Slack Channel etiquette. This is something that can be so annoying. The constant dings of messages that are not related to you. (hopefully we fixed this in the first point) but then there are three @ functions that you need to be aware of and how to use them.
The first one is @username this is going to notify this one user, (buzz the phone goes in the pocket) before you mention someone make sure the someone you mention is relevant to the task or comment you are making. (buzz the goes in the pocket) that buzz can seriously drive someone over the edge, especially if they are in a meeting!
Next up we have @here now I don’t mind this one too much, this is going to notify every online member in the channel you use it. That still could become pretty invasive but no buzz in the pocket I believe for this one. Plus one for the person in the meeting.
Finally… and the most important part of this whole blog post… @channel this is going to notify everyone in the channel regardless if you are online, in a meeting, asleep, flying, eating dinner you name it, it is going to notify you! To me this is the red button alert… We have an emergency and we need everyone to know about it! Please! Do not abuse this one, this has been known to cause me to leave Slack Channels rather abruptly as well as raise my own blood pressure.