If you’re a desk clerk, you’ve been working on WFH for two and a half years, at least some of the time or most of the time. Your remote office setup is set: you have your favorite desk chair, your widescreen monitor, your janky little ring light for video calls. In no way do you slack; you fire non-stop at Slacks and Zoomin as the encounter monster that you are.
As long as we live our lives through screens, we might as well make ‘work software’ work for us. This is the part where I tell you about some work hacks simply because l just heard about them and I am now convinced that you should implement them as well. They’re all software-based, small and incremental – nothing quite as glorious as a real Away message. But they still help you streamline your work life.
You will thank me. Your colleagues will thank me. And these tips apply whether you still work from home or have confusing ideas about why people should go back to the office.
New return policy
If you’re using Slack, you’re probably guilty of sending a steady stream of short messages instead of putting your thoughts together in one neat paragraph and hitting send once. This is annoying. Have you heard the Slack notification sound? Of course you have. Now imagine hearing it seven times in a row as you try to zoom in, I don’t know.
It’s time to take advantage of the “soft return” in Slack. In the days of word processing, soft return was used to insert a line break and start the text over on the next line. This is in contrast to a carriage return, inserted by pressing the Enter key, which would start a whole new paragraph. In the age of instant messaging – as in Slack – the Enter key usually has the same gravitas at the end of a paragraph by functioning as an instant send command. However, a single press of the Enter key can be programmed to pause and move text to the next line (as in word processing), rather than firing your message.
Forget the former and embrace the gentle return instead. In Slack, click your profile picture and select Preferences. Once there, go to the Advanced menu. Below Input options is the sentence “When writing a message, press ‘Enter’ to…’ Select “Start a new line.” From that moment on you have to Command+Enter (Mac) or Ctrl+Enter (PC) to send. Those extra two seconds can give you plenty of pause to think about what you’re going to send, and they’ll help streamline your messages. And of course your colleague on the receiving end will only hear one Knock Brush ping instead of 17.
In recent months, WIRED’s US and UK editorial teams have merged meaning (a) we are now a global newsroom and (b) people’s scheduling (pronounced shed-ules, of course) are everywhere. When you work with colleagues in different time zones — or if your workplace has simply established healthy boundaries — you need to know when people are on time and when not. This is true Schedule Send comes in.
To do this, simply compose a Slack message and, before hitting the send button, click on the little arrow next to it and choose “Plan for later.” Choose from Slack’s suggested times or enter a custom time. (Just know the times shown are ahead) your time zone, not theirs.) Once you’ve scheduled a post, you’ll see a channel called “Scheduled” appear in your left sidebar. There you can edit, reschedule or delete scheduled messages.
Google’s Gmail has had the ability to schedule and send emails since 2019 and is now also available as an SMS option on Android phones. Apple is a little, um, behind schedule here, but the next version of iOS will let you schedule Mail, and if you’re feeling motivated, you can use an iOS shortcut to delay text messages.