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On Slack: Reducing Noise

Written by Tom Cash, March 2nd 2020

Since we implemented Slack in our office, it has helped us to reduce our internal email by nearly 100%. Yet, despite all of the clear advantages of using Slack, it can sometimes be noisy.

Here are our top 5 tips for reducing noise in Slack to help boost your workplace productivity:

  1. Mute Channels and Use DND Mode
  2. Leave Some Channels
  3. Collapse Clutter
  4. React; Don't Reply
  5. Mention with Intent

Mute Channels and Use DND Mode

Muting distracting and non-work critical channels such as #random and #dogs is a quick win when it comes to reducing Slack noise and distractions.

A muted channel does not notify you or appear in bold when there's new activity and you will not even be notified when you are mentioned.

You can do this with the /mute command or via Slack's user interface.

Muting channels in Slack

Alternatively, if you really need to focus you can set your status to `do not disturb` (DND).

Setting yourself as DND will mean you don't receive any notifications for a set amount of time. What's more, if a colleague sends you a message whilst you're in DND mode, they will get a message from Slackbot so they will know not to expect a response right away and, if it's urgent, they can choose to send you a notification anyway.

Slack notiifcations settings

To set your status as DND, use the little bell icon on the top left hand side of Slack.

Leave Some Channels

Not all channels will be relevant to you and that's fine. Just leave them — it's OK...

If you're likely to suffer serious bouts of FOMO (fear of missing out) then you can check in on particular channels without joining them via Slack's channels menu.

The fear of missing out...

Collapse Clutter

Some channels can be very media heavy, especially when Slack integrations are involved.

Channels like #music can quickly become full of embedded media players, #proposals can quickly become a list of Google docs previews and #random can quickly become a sea of cat gifs.

If this is the case and you're struggling to see the wood for the trees, simply use the /collapse command. To undo this action, you can use the /expand command.

These settings are for your eyes only and will only affect your active channel.

React; Don't Reply

If you have been given an action to undertake, rather than writing "yessir", "OK no problem" or any other similar response, simply tag the message with an emoji by adding a reaction.

Slack add reaction

To add a reaction simply hover on a message and click the `Add reaction` option in the pop up menu.

Here at Foxmere, we run a pretty simple reaction system:

👀 I've seen this.
✅ I've done this.

Tagging a response tells the author that you have seen or actioned their message and is one less little red notification for others to needlessly check in on.

Mention with Intent

Don't be quick to use @here or @channel — this can quickly grow tiresome and, if overused, you run the risk of becoming the boy who cried wolf.

In particular, reserve your use for group mentions to when they are absolutely critical — after all, it's likely that you are about to pull quite a few people out of their work flow.

In general, at Foxmere we believe that it's best to reserve the use of all @mentions for when you require a quick response from your teammate and not simply when something requires their attention in general.

Believe me, this will save you from being "that guy" or "that gal" and it will give your @mentions a little more clout.

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