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You’re not using Slack right — 10 tips to cut the noise

I love Slack. It’s been a game changer for communication in the office. After using Slack since beta I’ve picked up some pretty useful tips and tricks.

I’ve distilled some of my best practices into these 10 tips. These tips are focused on helping you cut the noise and get the most out of Slack. This is a very opinionated approach, so you might not agree with me. :-)

How to get a signal from all the noise

1. Slack is NOT email

You do not need to read every message, in every room (err… channel). Channels are great places to have conversations with a theme/purpose but don’t try and read them all. It is okay to have unread messages. Trust that your team will @ mention you if you are needed.

2. The @ symbol in the top right corner is your friend

Open it up, see everywhere someone mentioned you. This is the key to happiness. You’re welcome.

3. Search: Learn to love it

Slack was built search first and is damn powerful. You can search to an amazing granularity in slack. Before asking a question about something, do a quick search, be amazed by all the filtering you can do.

4. Get used to creating and throwing away channels

Want to have a quick chat on a specific timely topic (say support issue #123). Start a public channel called #quick-support-123 and invite who you think needs to be there. Have a quick back and forth and archive it when you’re done. This is the equivalent of starting a quick email thread, except it’s transparent.

5. Default to public channel chats over private

Transparency is key. Anytime you message a person for help on something, ask yourself, could this be in a public channel? Someone else may be able to help. Someone else may be able to learn.

6. /dnd is the most powerful tool

It’s the equivalent to saying “I’m heads down but will get back to you when I can”. Use it whenever you need to.

7. We all need reminders

The /remind command is a great way to surface action items on your own schedule (similarly right click on a message and say “remind me about this in X hours”).

8. /call is the in-office equivalent of knocking on someone’s door

Use it often, in public, but respect that the other person may say “can we schedule a time to chat later?”. It is not an escalation of the conversation, just an alternative way of communicating.

9. Pinning: Super powerful if you are doing #project- type style rooms

Start a room, pin a link to the documents around the project, pin the most commonly asked “how do I do this” answer. Have a #general room? Why not pin the company handbook? Developer channel, pin the link to the Github org or whatever project management tool you use.

10. Make sure to discuss communication with your team. Often.

Make sure no one feels the pressure to read all messages, be in all rooms, or jump in all conversations. That is the physical equivalent to trying to be in all meetings, all office conversations, and cafe chats. You can, but you will kill your productivity.

Bonus: If “someone is typing”, don’t type a message. That’s the same as cutting someone off mid-sentence. :-)

Thoughts? Complete disagreements? Your own tips? Awesome, comment below!

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