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How can I work when I'm inundated with messages from my team?
Slack or Teams are great when you want a quick answer to a question, but I find that a lot of people keep using these team messaging system to ask questions about their own little project or to comment about subjects that would be better for a private dialogue. Any advice as to how to deal with this? Ignoring the thread is not really a solution, since I might miss something important.
We've found a few tricks that make using Slack (and similar team chat tools) more effective and manageable.
First, be sure to check your notification settings. Most of these apps have personal preferences that allow you to only be notified when you're mentioned personally, like @jeanne. That way you'll be sure to see messages that are addressed to you directly. But you won't be sucked into the group chitchat unless and until you want to check those threads.
Slack for desktop has a setting (off by default) where you can see all your unread messages in one click. I find that incredibly useful. I can check things on my own schedule, when I have time, scroll through everything at once, and respond to just the ones that need a response.
Finally, it's important the team understand what each of their the communications channels is for. On our team, it breaks down like this:
- Basecamp is for documenting projects and communicating with our clients. Typically a response here is not urgent, and communications are more formal or problem-solving driven.
- Slack is for more informal chatting, non-urgent questions, interesting shares, setting up meetings and non-project-based communication.
- Texting is for urgent questions that need an answer right away. (Or telling someone to look at Slack if they're logged out!)
- And of course there's always a phone call when you really need to speak with someone personally, or need a back-and-forth dialogue.
Other teams use different tools for these things, but the principle is the same. Set expectations clearly. Minimize notifications.