Replying to Slack messages feels productive, but it is a very, very addictive way to procrastinate. It’s hard to say no to it. Others are replying fast. Instant messaging creates expectation of a fast answer. It’s not your grandpa’s email after all. It is gratifying, it is a quick fix, it’s easy. Get your dopamine hit now.
Oh, it feels good having answered all unread messages. No anxiety. Bliss. Yet the faster you reply, the faster you get another message.
There’s no real multitasking for humans. You have to decide whether you want to have a state of flow or allow constant interruptions1.
Not plunging into this infinite pseudo-productive sea of quick-fixes is something that is still hard for me. I don’t have new message notifications of course, but I know that red unread messages counter exists and it beckons.
- I lobby for not-expecting-an-immediate-answer culture when I can
- Slack is hidden in the tray or turned off by default
- I try to answer messages in bulk at scheduled unproductive times of the day.
- I try not to mark messages as unread. This is still hard. Otherwise, I read a message, decide I don’t want to answer now, mark it unread… and one hour later the cycle repeats, eating away my time and attention.
- I start working at home, with no distractions, no phone, no Slack, no email.
- There is one thing that really helps me with slackrastination (that is a word now), or any procrastination for that matter: instead of automatically changing what you do, you make the process as conscious as possible. For me the good example are weeks when I track my time. Each time I change what I do, I write the new activity down and start corresponding activity timer2. When I am in a state of flow and start writing “Slack” to change timers, I usually catch myself and go back to doing the important stuff.
- My wallpaper at work