Slack tip: closing unnecessary DMs in the sidebar

I like to keep my email inbox as empty as possible: only containing emails that I need to follow up or action which is usually less than 6.

I find Slack can be overwhelming, particuarly Direct Messages (DMs) which build up in the sidebar over time – particularly in a large company. At a previous job I noticed my team lead would use the DMs like an email – open a new DM to someone to ask something, and as soon as there’s nothing more to do close that DM so the sidebar is nice and clean. I didn’t even think to do this but I love doing it now – I only have DMs in the sidebar that require my attention, all other ones aren’t there (you don’t lose history of DMs, clicking the plus ➕ and adding a DM to someone shows your previous history).

I recommend giving it a try to see whether it helps you stay on top of your Slack.

Staying focused: the pomodoro technique

How do I stay focused when life is full of distractions?

I’ve recently been trying the Pomodoro Technique, it’s Italian for tomato. It was created by an Italian guy who used his tomato shaped egg timer to create a technique to stay focused.

You simply chunk your time into 25 minute slots:

  • Work for 20 mins solid – jot down any distractions, but don’t follow them; then
  • Have a 5 minute break, where you can check your distractions
  • Every four “pomodoros” take a longer break (15-20 mins)

I’ve tried using this at work with reasonable success. The key is to break your work down into chunks that can be managed in 20 minutes. Once you have this down pat, you become really productive, and the time spent on distractions decreases over time.

How do you stay focused?