Right now, in the time it'll take you to read this article, roughly 297,619 messages will be sent in Slack by some 10 million users worldwide. Some of you have no problem believing that when you look at the notifications waiting for you in various channels and DMs. If you're wishing you could cut through the noise and take advantage of Slack as a collaboration tool, I've got you covered.

Here are 13 things you can do right now to make Slack more productive for your team:

1. Mute channels.

If your workplace is like most, you have channels for everything. That alone can get out of hand, but the good news is that you can mute the channels you don't regularly need to monitor, and then simply stop by and check in when you want.

2. Star channels and threads.

This one is great for both channels or threads. Channels you star appear at the top of the left sidebar so that you can quickly click or tap through the ones that matter most. When you star a thread, you can easily get back to it by clicking the star in the upper right corner to show all your starred items.

3. Use message reminders.

Sometimes you'll check in to Slack to find things you know you need to deal with, but don't have time right now. The good news is that Slack will remind you. Just click the three dots beside any message, and ask Slack to "remind me about this."

4. Send yourself a message.

You can't really send a message to yourself, but you can use the DM channel with your name on it to create drafts, take notes, or keep track of other important messages.

5. Create a user group.

Channels are a great way to organize conversations for teams or departments, but sometimes it's helpful to be able to notify a specific group within those channels. User groups let you create one @ handle that notifies a specific group of people as if their individual @name was used. 

6. Back navigation.

This one took me a while, but you can use the same backward and forward navigation commands that you use in your browser to move through the channels you've recently visited. 

This is super helpful because sometimes you are looking at something important and click on a notification, only to forget what channel you were in before. Instead of going through them all, simply click "command + [" on a Mac or "ALT + left arrow" on PC to go back.

7. Control your notification settings


Slack can easily feel overwhelming with the sheer number of notifications you receive by default. Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is simply turn them off.  Your to-do list will thank you. 

When it doesn't work to turn them off completely, you can at least control notifications so you only get interrupted for things that actually require your attention right now. Choose when you want to be notified, including setting keywords that you want to make sure not to miss.

8. Connect to Dropbox.

You can actually connect Slack to a lot of the other tools you use on a daily basis, which is great for sharing files and gathering feedback and revisions. Dropbox is especially helpful in this way in that it will keep track of your Slack comments about a document right in Dropbox as well.

9. Mark as unread.

I can't stand having unread notifications. It's like I can't function when there's that little red dot or number icon telling me that I need to check on something. I guess for some of you, that might be helpful since it will remind you of an important message or task. Fortunately, Slack lets you mark messages as unread so you won't forget to come back to them later.

10. Understand the difference between @here and @channel.

Slack lets you notify everyone in a channel in two ways. Including @here will notify everyone in the channel who is currently online. The @channel handle will notify everyone in a channel regardless of their current status.

11. Add custom emoji

This might not seem like a big deal, but adding your own custom emoji is more than just fun. It allows you to use emoji to tag different posts for various reasons, such as letting others know that you're addressing a concern or support issue.

12. Pin important information or FAQs

For every channel, there's information that everyone needs easy access to, or asks about on a regular basis. Make it easy for everyone and pin that post or thread to the channel. That'll make it accessible from the pin at the top, and you won't have to keep answering the question "where do I find...?"

13. Use threads

Speaking of threads, use them. Slack doesn't make it automatically apparent that you should generally respond in a thread, but you almost always should. That keeps things organized and far easier to scroll through and read. 

Published on: Jun 27, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.