Ep 12 – Is Slack Ruining Your Team’s Productivity?

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Ep 12 – Is Slack Ruining Your Team’s Productivity?

I’ve been really focused on how to squeeze more out of my work day, and I will say that I have tried so many different online tools and to do lists that are supposed to help me get more things done. I had a client I worked with last year that really overwhelmed me. We used no less than 5 different project management, communications, and productivity tools all at the same time including Facebook at Work, Slack, Asana, Google Drive, Zoom, and email. At the time, I was also using several productivity tools on my own, and I was going insane.

As I was wrapping up with this client who uses all the things, I talked with productivity expert, Maura Nevel Thomas who had this to say.

It is a huge problem and I see attention management as I mean it’s sort of self-explanatory right. We understand we understand what the two words mean together managing your attention but really what specifically is it. And to me it’s really a collection of behaviors. It’s  not just one thing. It’s a little attention management is  sort of the same concept as healthy living right. There are a whole bunch of things that go into healthy living and some days you do some of them but not all of them and some days you’re really good at it. Other days you sort of really bad at it but you try. It’s a focus. You decide that you know what I really want to be healthy I want to do things that are good for me. And so you make it a focus and so you try every day and some days you’re good and other days you’re not so good and I see attention management as the same thing. It’s sort of a collection of behaviors things like focusing and building up your ability to focus and the ability to effectively manage your distractions controlling your environment and controlling your technology. It’s the ability to be present in your moments to engage your flow to get so engrossed in something.

The time just passes in your highest and best self comes out. All of these things give you the ability to sort of unleash your full brainpower  on your own life you’re your full consideration your attention your full presence you know all of the results. If if it’s a personal thing or if it’s a professional thing it’s all of the benefits of your wisdom skill and abilities to bear on the issue at hand instead of this sort of half way I’m sort of listening. Kind of. But I have so much else going on right now and oh look there’s an email that came in and I’m sorry what did you say and you know it’s it’s funny I. There’s a part in my trainings where I talk about Okay I’m gonna I’m gonna show you this thing and I want you to I want you to answer these two questions. So the first question is X and the second question is X you ready. Here we go. And I and I show them this image for three seconds and then I say now what do you think and they go what were the questions again. This is sort of how we approach our lives. And it’s really just diminishing the quality of our lives.

Today’s featured story comes from Vox and is titled, The Productivity Pit: How Slack is Ruining Work.

The article mentions that the average worker spends an estimated 28 percent of the workweek managing email and nearly 20 percent looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks, but when you add in a whole host of platforms as I mentioned above, it’s hard to juggle which ones you should be connecting on not to mention the feeling that you need to always be on as well as cross-posting the same message or information on multiple platforms.

While I’m no longer working with this particular client any longer, I’ve also paired down intentionally the productivity tools that I use. My team and I now rely on Slack and email as our mail communication. I have scheduled weekly meetings to touch base and I have committed to using a daily paper planner called a Panda Planner to help create a process and system to keep me more organized. The crazy thing is that it’s working. I’m feeling less stressed and seeing things more clearly because I’m creating boundaries in my personal and professional life.

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Featured Story

The Productivity Pit: How Slack is Ruining Work

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Robert Zalaudek says

    Hi Jessica: Thanks for this article. ONe of the things that I think everyone would like to be better at (and which they invariably try to do themselves) is to exercise more self-discipline in allowing distractions and interruptions. In my view, most people would benefit from starting with a tool or framework that helps them manage distractions and interruptions. It makes it easier to get started and hopefully they build some momentum around this over time. Maura Thomas’ point at the end of the first paragraph of her quote is that people build up their ability to focus and avoid distractions by managing their environment and technology and really getting into flow. This is what inspired my business partner and I to create pomodus. It’s a pomodoro app that is integrated with slack. It gives people a tool to help them focus while also helping them to reduce distractions and Interruptions. When they start a pomodoro their notifications are silenced and their Status shows that they’re in a pomodoro and at what time they’ll be done. Perhaps this might be of interest to your readers and Listeners.


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