This is the third blog of a three part series, in case you missed them, here are the other two blogs:

  • Part 1 – I outline my goals and how I want to work with Slack.
  • Part 2 – I jump into configuring Slack to meet my goals and support this process.

I debated on whether or not this should be Part 2 or Part 3.  If you are not willing to change your configuration without understanding why and how to use it, stay here and then read Part 2.  Here is my process:

If you took the leap of faith and changed your config settings, you’ll notice a lot less channels and peeps in the left nav bar. And as soon as you read a channel and navigate away, the channel goes away. This is awesome… unless you were wanting to come back to it.  Speaking of which, we’ll come back to this concept.  First, let’s start with your new, lean Slack macheeen.

Only show me the unreads!  As you can see from the screenshot, there are only 2 type of messages that are displayed:

  1. Any direct message from a contact or mention in a channel.  These are easy to see as they have the purple message indicator to the right.  These are my higher priority channels that I check, as it means somebody is trying to get ahold of me directly.
  2. All other unread messages.  These are my lower priority messages that I never disrupt my work in progress for.  I will read through and participates in the channel when I am on a break between meetings or work efforts.

 

What happens when you have a message that you want to come back to?  Enter Star-ing messages!  There are two things you can star:

  • Channel – This is the small star in the upper LEFT-hand corner.  I use this very sparingly, mostly to keep a channel from disappearing when I read messages.  The prime use case for this is if I’m having a long running discussion with people and want to stay in the moment.  I rarely have more that 1-2 channels starred and always close them out by the end of the day.
  • Message – This is the smaller star in the upper RIGHT hand-hand corner below the bigger star (more on that in a minute).  I use this ALL THE TIME!  This keeps me in the flow of what I’m doing and let’s me come back to messages.  I don’t have to worry about responding right away and I also don’t have to worry when the channel disappears.  Think of this as a to-do list in Slack, where the to-dos are driven by messages.

The last part of my process is to review all of my starred messages. Enter the large star in the upper RIGHT hand-hand corner.  This will pull up the list of starred messages and I just work through them.  I try to do this as one of my end of day tasks, so I can start the next day fresh.

If you made it this far, thank you for following along!  If you have a different strategy or see room for improvement on my approach, I’d love to hear it!