Drowning in Pings? Boost Your Productivity With These Tips

Here’s a scenario that’s all too common in the remote and hybrid workplace. You’ve finally found your flow and have entered deep-focus mode on an upcoming deliverable. Then the pinging starts. A teammate asks  for the latest email from a client. It takes just a minute but shatters your concentration. You eventually find your groove again after spending over 20 minutes staring at your document, anticipating the next ping.

Our workplace collaboration tools should assist us, not add more work to our plates. According to a study by Udemy, an online learning platform, nearly 3 out of 4 workers report feeling distracted on the job, and 16% report feeling constantly distracted—and that was before the pandemic.

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If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of messages and notifications you get each day, a digital HQ can help. A digital HQ is a single, virtual space to connect your people, tools, customers and partners for faster and more flexible work. Consider it the command center for your workday. For many organizations, Slack is that digital HQ.

Here are five easy-to-use tips you can try in Slack right now to help you reclaim your focus and preserve your most precious resource: time.

1. Carve out focus time with ‘do not disturb’ mode

Our apps, computers and phones are always within arm’s reach. Without strong work-life boundaries, our communication tools can drive an “always-on” culture. Unless you’re working the night shift, your boss and colleagues shouldn’t be able to text and message you anytime of the day or night.

By tweaking a few settings, you can customize notifications in Slack to create better workplace boundaries. Do Not Disturb (DND) mode is an easy way to pause notifications from Slack. To temporarily snooze notifications when you need to concentrate, click the bell icon atop your channel bar or use the /dnd slash command, followed by a specific time of day or time frame. Then choose a time or set your own custom interval. You can also set automatic recurring DND hours to avoid after-hours interruptions, Your teammates will still have the option to push a notification through if it’s urgent.

If you’re burning the midnight oil and don’t want to bother your coworkers (or set the precedent that you’ll always be available after hours), you can schedule messages to send at a later time.

2. Mute rarely-used channels to turn down the volume

By default, channels and direct messages appear bolded in your sidebar when there’s unread activity. But that doesn’t mean you need to play whack-a-mole in your sidebar; not all meetings are equally relevant to your work, and neither are all conversations in Slack. 

You can mute channels that you want to be in but don’t follow closely. This is especially handy for channels with lots of messages from bots and integrations or channels you visit only for specific, one-off requests.

Muted channels won’t appear as bold when there’s unread activity, letting you read through them at your own convenience. If someone mentions your username or a designated keyword in these channels, don’t worry—you’ll still receive a notification on a muted channel in these instances.

If your role in a project has wrapped up, don’t be afraid to leave a channel you rarely contribute to.

3. Use custom updates to let co-workers know when you’ll be slow to respond

The urge to respond to a direct message as soon as you see it pop up can be overwhelming. But you don’t have to respond right away. You can use a custom status in Slack to manage your coworkers’ expectations. Your Slack status is also an easy way to share what you’re working on or whom coworkers should contact in your absence.

Slack comes with five default choices for status, including ???? in a meeting, ???? out sick or ????on vacation, and your Slack admins can tailor options to fit your team’s precise needs.

After implementing Slack, customers reported an average 29% increase in time savings from automation and 30% higher engagement with integrated apps

Slack Customer Success Metrics, 2022

For anything else, you can create your own custom status that says exactly what you want your team to know. Maybe you’re on a deadline and slow to respond ???? or stepped out for ☕️. Each status can be up to 100 characters long and feature an emoji of your choice.

Working in a digital HQ means creating a channel as homebase for every project, topic or team. Working in channels makes it easier to find and share information, but a longer list of channels does mean a longer sidebar.  That’s why Slack makes it easy to elevate the work that matters most.

The most basic trick is starring important conversations, which pushes them to the top of your sidebar. For organization at the granular level, try creating custom sections. Think of these as folders—you can group them by team, project or department and tailor their ordering to how you work best.

5. Optimize your tech stack with apps and integrations for Slack

The typical office employee toggles through an average of 13 apps 30 times per day, according to Asana’s Anatomy of Work Index 2021 report. 

Between all the opening and closing, copying and pasting, and logging in and logging out, valuable focus time slips through the cracks.

Slack not only connects teammates, it connects the most popular workplace apps and integrations in channels, making it easier to work in one central platform. When teammates don’t have to chase down tasks and messages across multiple tools, they have more time to focus on the work that really matters. 

There are over 2,500 apps in the Slack App Directory. Spin up a Zoom call, schedule an event in a Google or Outlook calendar, stay updated on Salesforce leads—all in Slack.

Always, communicate boundaries with your team

A 2021 TINYpulse survey found that about 86% of remote workers have experienced burnout, and at least 50% of the U.S. workforce is quiet quitting—doing the minimum work required to stay on the payroll. These numbers illuminate a striking trend: having access to so many tools and technologies makes our lives easier in many ways, but it also makes employees feel like they’re never able to unplug. 

Ultimately, leaders and teammates must establish practices to promote a healthy work-life balance. Slack makes it easier to communicate those boundaries and set expectations around scheduling and work availability.

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