Everyone is talking about Slack. The so-called “email killer” has completely transformed the workplace. From fun emojis to animated gifs, Slack is a breath of fresh air compared to the deluge of social enterprise tools that seem better suited for our grandmothers’ attics than for the office.
Despite its popularity in the workplace, most of us aren’t using Slack to its full potential. According to a Slack blog post, most users take advantage of only about 10 percent of Slack’s functionalities.
Here are five under-leveraged Slack features that will help boost your productivity, according to science.
1. Activate the /dnd command.
There’s nothing worse than being distracted by a coworker when you’re heads down, working hard to complete a task. It takes us more than 23 minutes to return to a task after we’ve been interrupted. A steady flow of seemingly innocuous Slack notifications can gnaw away at our day.
Activate Slack’s /dnd (do not disturb) command during your peak productivity hours. For most of us, our productivity levels reach an apex in the morning. According topsychologist Dr. Ron Friedman, most of us have a three-hour window in the morning when we’re very focused and at peak productivity.
Not all of us are early birds though. If you’re not sure when you’re most productive, I recommend using a tool such as RescueTime to pinpoint your peak productivity hours and hence when best to activate the /dnd command.
2. Customize the color of your sidebar.
For many, the ability to alter the color of their Slack sidebar seems nothing more than a fun gimmick. Don’t be so quick to judge. Changing the color your sidebar can increase your productivity, especially if you opt for a blue or green hue. Blue and green, thanks to their low wavelengths, have calming effects that stimulate the mind.
Simply click “Preferences” and then “Sidebar” to transform your sidebar.
3. Use Emojis sparingly.
Sure, emojis are cute and fun. Admittedly, my Slack channels are peppered with different emojis (I use the :party_parrot: emoji a little too liberally). But, when it comes to work-related discussions, try to go easy on the use of emojis. One study spearheaded by Ella Glikson of Carnegie Mellon University, Gerben Van Kleef of University of Amsterdam, and Arik Cheshin of University of Haifa found that smileys included in work-related emails lead us to perceive the sender as less competent than otherwise. It also found that smileys don’t do anything to communicate genuine warmth.
Preserve your valuable time and energy by keeping emojis to a minimum in the context of strictly work-related discussions on Slack. If the discussion is more casual, sure, throw in a Slackmoji or two.
4. Customize your loading message.
Most users don’t realize that it’s possible to customize Slack loading messages. By customizing your loading message, you can capitalize on an opportunity to feel empowered and optimize productivity. Consider customizing your Slack loading messages with a well-known quote bursting with inspiration. Research published by Bain & Company found that “inspired” employees are 250 percent more productive than employees who are merely simply “satisfied”.
My Slack loading screen for the current week? It’s an oldie from basketball legend Michael Jordan–“Earn your leadership every day.”
Click “Customize Slack” and then “Loading Messages” to add your own inspirational pick-me-up.
5. Activate the /remind command (but, wait, there’s catch).
My colleagues and I have mixed feelings about Slack reminders. Some of us find them helpful, while others of us find them distracting. It turns out that your stance on the matter is a reflection of one unsuspecting factor–your gender.
A 2015 study investigated whether individuals perform better on a quiz when prompted with reminders to study. Females who received reminders performed significantly better than females who did not receive reminders. In contrast, males who received reminders performed worse than males who did not receive reminders. In fact, the more reminders they received, the worse their performance. Whereas task reminders can be helpful for females, they may cause performance declines among males. Task reminders can add to males’ “cognitive load” and cause them to become distracted.
The findings suggest that females should freely leverage Slack’s built-in command /remind to create reminders. Males, don’t despair. You can still use /remind to send useful reminders to your female colleagues. We’ll thank you.
Slack has taken over the office. According to Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends report, more than 500,000 organizations are now using Slack. With the average Slack user sending 70 messages daily (as reported by MIT Technology Review), it’s important to think judiciously about how we use Slack. When we effectively leverage the many features Slack has to offer, our productivity levels do indeed soar. Dare I say :party_parrot:?
This article was originally published in: https://www.inc.com