Community

Overwhelmed by Slack? There’s a Solution.

By Drew B | Tuesday, November 9, 2021

I live in Slack. I’m probably not the only one.

Many organizations use Slack the way we used to use email. All communication happens there. Project proposals, logistics, memes. You name it.

I’m in several particularly active Slack workspaces as part of my work at schoolhouse.world. Our community Slack has 1300+ users and 31 public channels. Our product team also has its own Slack, with often close to 500 messages a day.

I follow pretty much all of it. Last month over, I sent over 3300 messages. An average of 4.5 per hour. That’s nothing compared to how many messages I read.

Yet, how we manage our Slack workspaces and our notifications is often not great. In fact, it’s downright terrible.

Compared to how we’ve learned to manage and master our email inboxes, our Slack inboxes are primitive.

But there is a solution. There really is. Slack has tons of settings to customize and enhance your experience. You just need to go hunting.

To save you some time, I wanted to share some of my tips for how to counter that Slack fatigue. (These are the things Slack should really share with you once your usage reaches a certain level and you are about to become overwhelmed, but for whatever reason they don’t.)

Organize your channels into sections

When you have so many channels that you start needing to scroll through them, it might be worth considering sections. I still remember the day that I discovered this feature.

Simply click the three dots and click “Create new section”.

Then start dragging and dropping your channels to the appropriate sections. Feel free to create as many as you want, or even add emojis.

As an example, here’s how I organize my channels within our product team:

Notice you can expand/collapse sections. You can also change the ordering of channels within sections.

This will let you place your more important channels further up and also help you mentally divide your channels into logical chunks.

Consider hiding everything but unread DMs

Sometimes the direct messages part of Slack can be the most overwhelming. Not only do you see all your unread messages, you also see a bunch of recent DMs.

But as you notice below, I see none of that within my Slack configuration. My DMs are empty because I’ve replied to everyone and I’m using a filter of showing “unread direct messages only”.

If I need to find a DM from before, I simply use the search bar or click “Browse DMs”.

Mute channels as needed

Sometimes you want to be in a channel and catch up on messages every few days, but don’t want to be alerted of every new message. Basically, you want to be a lurker.

All sorts of settings can help with that, but the key one to know about is muting. You can right click on the channel and then click “Mute Channel”.

New features: huddles, split views, etc.

In addition to all of the above, Slack seems to be releasing a bunch of new features lately that can also help you better manage your workspaces.

Huddles are essentially convenient audio calls tied to channels (similar to Discord voice channels). They’ll reduce your notification fatigue simply due to the fact that you’ll be talking more instead of messaging.

Split views are a brand new feature that lets you see and respond to two channels or messages at the same time. This is huge for people who are used to having to track and reply to multiple conversations at once. With email in your browser, you could always just open multiple windows. Now that Slack is becoming email, it’s helpful to have similar functionality.

I guess Slack finally closed the loop on a 2017 Slack thread…

Don’t stop there

My work is based in Slack and I’m still discovering new features each day. For instance, I just went to Slack’s Help Center and discovered they have a compact view. Wild.


Huge thanks to Varun Chawla for providing feedback on this post.

Written by Drew Bent, COO of schoolhouse.world. [email protected]

© Copyright 2022 schoolhouse.world. All rights reserved.