It was Inc.'s 2015 Company of the Year, it won a TechCrunch Crunchie award for " Fastest Rising Startup," and it turned heads when it took the unusual tack for a young company by forming an  $80 million venture fund to invest in other  startups. The company is Slack--and there's no doubt that it's hot. But if you're one of the 2.3 million people using the messaging platform daily, the questions is, are you making the most of this ridiculously beloved app? Here's how to become an expert power user, straight from the mouth of Anna Pickard, editorial director at Slack and the Brit responsible for the platform's approachable voice.

1. Establish a different channel for individual projects.

Do this in the left margin by clicking on the + sign right of "Channels." The idea is to invite only the people involved in whatever you're working on. It's in this area these collaborators know where to look for whatever is happening with the project. As a channel member you can see all the conversations which have taken place in the middle chat window, plus dig deeper by clicking on the "i" toward the top of the page to see channel details such as pinned messages or files, whether members are online or not, any shared files within the channel as well as what kind of activity notifications you want to be pushed to your desktop or mobile device.

2. Star important conversations.

Doing so will move them up your sidebar. It's a slick way to keep an eye on important directives or messages.

3. Tweak and customize your notifications.

Not only can you tell Slack how often to receive notifications on your desktop or mobile device, you can have it look for certain words. For example, if you were working on a project involving the brown cheese of Norway, you could set Slack to notify you whenever someone in any channel mentions the word "Norway." It's a fantastic way to keep an eye on conversations you may be interested in so you have the opportunity to jump in and get involved or ask for more information.

4. Maintain good channel hygiene.

In other words, once you don't need a channel anymore, archive it. You'll still be able to search for and find it later if you need to.

5. Hide channels with no unread activity.

Do this by setting your preferences in Advanced Options. If no one is talking in a channel it won't appear in your sidebar. "This really keeps things minimal and manageable for  people like me who have a slightly OCD attitude," she says. "It makes sure that your brain can stay focused."

6. Use the Snooze feature to focus.

Let's say you're under the gun, on deadline or otherwise feeling screwed time wise. Click the little bell icon in the left margin near your name to shut yourself off completely, meaning whoever is trying to communicate with you via Slack will just have to wait. In essence, any messages aimed toward yourself will pile up for the time period you specify. So--if you need one hour of head-down time you can emerge 60 minutes later and find all the Slack messages which were sent your direction. My guess--it wasn't life or death.

7. Find someone fast with the Quick Switcher.

You have five guys named John in your channel and you need to talk to one of them pronto. Quick Switcher is the fastest way to find his name among everyone on your team. Use this search feature on the desktop by clicking on the search icon on the bottom left margin, or using Command + K on Mac, or Ctrl + K on Windows. Just start typing the person's name and voila--you'll get fast access to the names of everyone that match whatever you begin typing.

8. Find your most recent conversations.

Just click on the DIRECT MESSAGES heading in your left margin, under which your teammates' names are listed. Doing so brings up a list of your conversations ordered with the most recent on top.

9. Connect your favorite apps to Slack.

The ability to connect 280 apps to Slack may be the feature most beloved by users. Take Twitter, for example. By hooking it up with Slack you can keep an eye on what  people are tweeting about your company, competitors or any other thing you want to track. Just create a new channel dedicated to this activity, and go to slack.com/services to add a Twitter integration. Other "new and noteworthy" apps Slack currently promotes: Skype, /todo, Stripe, Lucidchart, Statsbot, Growbot, Zeplin and more.

10. Download the actual Slack app.

Sure, you can use Slack within your browser, but downloading the Windows, Mac, iOS or Android app versions is better because each is optimized according to platform. Plus, if you have the app installed on your computer and phone you'll never miss anything since messages sync across all platforms in real-time. "If someone is typing something you will get it immediately," she says. "If you close your laptop and walk off with your phone you will still be connected to that conversation."

Want intel on how companies are using Slack? Check out Slack on Flipboard, where a slew of articles dig into the subject.

Published on: Feb 29, 2016