For knowledge workers all around the world, Slack is the collaboration hub that helps people work together as easily online as they do in person. Most Slack users understand the basic concepts of channels — i.e. places for conversations to be divided by team or project — and may even have some apps integrated. However, many people aren’t making full use of the range of features that Slack offers.
The below tips will help even a self-professed Slack sage up their productivity game:
1. Auto expiring statuses: Want to ensure that your team know your whereabouts without having to constantly update them? Try using Slack’s auto expiring statuses feature. Simply select set a status, such as busy or out to lunch and set the time limit. This will ensure you don’t mistakenly inform everyone that you’re out for a 3 hour lunch!
2. Up arrow to edit: You may know how to edit messages, but do you know the quickest way to do it? Simply click the up arrow on the desktop keyboard immediately after you post. This will put you in edit mode allowing you to quickly fix that typo.
3. Remind yourself: For anyone that is busy juggling deadlines — you should try reminders. Type /remind @YourName, whatever you need to do, and when – eg. /remind @sam to book meeting room tomorrow. If the reminder is for someone else, just enter their @Name instead and they’ll be reminded at the relevant time, via Slack's integrated and automated bot, Slackbot.
4. Mark unread: Want to re-read a message? Try marking messages as unread so you can go back to them later. Do this by hovering over a message, selecting the *‘...’* button, and clicking *‘Mark unread’*to come back to it later.
5. Get to know your Slackbot: Wish you had an always on, smart helper? Well look no further than Slackbot. Teach Slackbot responses to frequent or important queries so you can get on with your working day. Customise its responses in your channels via the Customize Your Workspace page, so that when someone uses specific words and phrases, Slackbot will respond (requesting info on annual leave policy is a good place to start).
6. Quiet time: A useful tool for when you need to schedule some time to complete focussed work without being interrupted is Do Not Disturb. Snooze your notifications by typing /dnd in any channel, and enter the amount of time you want to be notification free. Then get back in the zone.
7. Keep track of important keywords: Stay up to date on all the latest team developments by following the phrases that matter. To get notifications when particular words are used in your channels, just type /prefs, then edit My Keywords in your notification settings to add your terms (and don’t forget to separate with commas).
8. Make use of apps: Perhaps you want to seamlessly share a Google Doc? Or poll your colleagues on their availability? Or have a quick conference call? By integrating the right apps within your Slack, all of this can be a possibility. For sharing docs, the Google Drive app allows you to just paste the shareable link and the file will be imported straight away. You’ll have a short set-up process the first time you do this, then you’re good to go. For aligning schedules, use Simple Poll to find out what time works for the most people. Add the Slack app, then just type /poll followed by the “question?” and the “options” to quickly gather votes on your chosen topic. For conference calls, add Zoom and then can hit the call button to open up a conference session straight from Slack – and you can share your screen while you do it.
9. Advanced searching: Slack is a treasure trove of useful info. Searching for quarterly reports turns up dozens of items but you just want the version of the April report that Mark shared. Cut straight to what you need using search modifiers, such as in:channel (to find messages and files in a specific channel), to:me (for finding direct messages sent to you), and before:date, after:date or on:date/month/year, to narrow your search to a specific timeframe.
10. Twitter feeds: Want to stay on top of the latest happenings but don’t have time to browse different websites? You can pipe in Twitter feeds to help you stay informed, all without leaving Slack. Search Slack's App Directory, install the Twitter integration, select the @username and the tweets you would like to see, and voila. You're in the know!
11. Star power: Have you misplaced that article,your boss told you was vital reading? In the future, click the star next to a message’s time stamp to make it easy to discover again later. When you click the star icon at the top of the screen later, you’ll be able to access all your starred messages. It’s like web page bookmarks, but for Slack.
12. Quick messaging: You’re dashing to attend an event you’re late for, but before leaving you have to remind your colleague that you will be out of the office for the rest of the afternoon. Just type /msg @Name or /dm @Name into any message text box to send a direct message to whoever you want (in this case your colleague). Easy! Now get to that event!
Arturo Arrarte is head of growth – Asia Pacific – at Slack.