Slack is the new email

Does this look familiar?

Person A [6:37 AM] Please ping me when you are online.

Person B [7:42 AM] What’s up?

Person A [8:56 AM] What do you think about topic X?

In case it’s not immediately obvious, this conversation is horribly ineffective. It’s imprecise, has a high degree of latency, and is hugely wasteful.

Email gained a bad reputation because people started abusing it. Slack is the new email because it’s become an “all-day meeting with random participants and no agenda.

I deleted the Slack desktop app a while back. Being signed in to a dozen plus Slack organizations led to notification paralysis — the unread indicator made it impossible to get anything done. Since then, I open the corresponding Slack organization when I’m actively working on a given project, and leave it closed otherwise.

But, this approach still has the problem of mentions / direct messages, email notifications, and high latency. Going forward, I’m instituting a new policy of encouraging email (or some other async medium) when I’m not actively signed in to Slack. If you see me online, feel free to ping me. Otherwise, please use a more appropriate medium.

2 Replies to “Slack is the new email”

  1. +1. I keep Slack closed except when I’m actually working on the project related to that Slack. Ambient sychronousness is about as “productive” in the case of Slack as it is when you work in an office and someone drops by your desk to “ask you a quick question”.

  2. I was dealing with the same problem recently. Mainly the notifications, that most of the time, was not “serious” stuff.

    I kept the desktop Slack app, but when I close it, it doesn’t get active in the background. Since making this change, I guess one/two months ago, I felt my days were more productive.

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