Self-messaging on Slack sounds lonely, but it’s my best productivity hack

Self-messaging on Slack

June Wan/ZDNET

Humans on average have more than 6,000 thoughts per day, with some of the most important ones happening during work hours. That's where note-taking apps and notepads come in handy. Or, if you're like me, Slack.

For my Slack users out there, allow me to share with you one basic but underutilized trick to stay on top of your thoughts. (But, also, if you use a different collaboration service, read on still. This is just as applicable to you.)

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Self-messaging seems self-explanatory, right? You start a new conversation, but instead of typing in a co-worker's name, you type your own and hit enter. Welcome to the safe haven of your most genius work ideas, where everything is timestamped, searchable, formatted just right, and may or may not lead to business success.

As a journalist, I use my personal inbox to jot down story ideas, keyboard shortcuts, pictures and videos, article links, and more. I also use the space to draft messages that I send to the wider team. (There's nothing more delightful than hitting enter on an incomplete message. This will fix that.) 

The best part is how I format links and embed images will stay the same when I transfer the copy to another group chat or channel because, well, everything is on Slack. In fact, send yourself that paragraph-long blast to catch a preview of how it will look to others. You can always delete it from your inbox afterward.

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There's also the benefit of your personal inbox always appearing at the top of your direct messages list, giving you quick access to your past thoughts. And no, you won't get any unnecessary notifications every time you message yourself. This is much more intuitive than self-emailing or self-texting.

Lastly, I emphasize this practice for work-related ideas only. Integrating Slack into your personal life is anything but work-life balance. Google Keep is still my go-to for note-taking outside of the 9-to-5, but when I'm clocked in, there's no beating the efficiency of self-messaging on the platform I'm already working from.