Working remotely is great.
No commuting, designing your ideal environment, and working with talented individuals from all over the world. However, there’s a downside. Working with people across time zones can be stressful.
I experienced this first hand when I was a sales leader at a rapidly growing software company. As headcount grew I also noticed more and more input coming my way through Slack, 24/7.
This wasn’t anyone’s fault. In fact, everyone was great at upholding Slack ‘etiquette’ – no excessive mentions, no vague messages (“Can I ask you something?”), and no expectation of an immediate response.
And yet, seeing that red notification icon on top of the Slack app led me to open it late at night more often than I care to admit.
I realized that how I used Slack conflicted with my values, which include protecting my time so that I can take care of other responsibilities outside of work. Since living out of alignment with your values is a one-way ticket to Burnout City, I made these changes to create a more healthy relationship with Slack.
1) 📱 I uninstalled Slack from my phone. If you’re able to, I recommend limiting Slack to one device dedicated to work. For me, this was my laptop. This made it easier to disconnect.
2) ⛔ I left channels. If I noticed that a channel was not helping me do my best work (anymore) and I would not contribute anything in the foreseeable future, I’d leave it. Don’t hold back or worry about appearing harsh. Your mental health comes first. You’ll be invited back in if you’re needed.
3) 🔇 I muted channels. If I only needed to step into a channel from time to time, I’d mute it so I wouldn’t be notified about everything happening in there. I also recommend doing this for big channels with lots of activity.
4) 📚 I used category-based Sections for channels. My sections were Announcements, Sales, Management, Growth, Operational, Reference, and Social.
5) 🌐 I used time zone-based Sections for Direct Messages. This was the game-changer for me. I organized 1:1 chats based on the team member’s time zone proximity and grouped them into 3 sections:
- >5 hours ahead of me
- Similar time zone
- >5 hours after me
Making these changes resulted in a calm approach to my work communication instead of a stressful ‘always on’ mentality.
Actionable advice for this week: organize your Slack workspace.
You could follow my step plan and uninstall the app, leave or mute channels, and organize channels/DMs. First and foremost though, think about the relationship you (want to) have with Slack and align it with your values.