Productivity Hack: automate periodic reminders for Slack

Daily, weekly, and monthly cues keep big projects moving forward and little tasks on your radar

Author: Matt Haughey21st March 2022Illustration by Pete Ryan

We often feel most accomplished at work after big milestones. Things like making the final revisions to a report, shipping a new feature, or giving the talk you’ve spent a month prepping.

While projects and deadlines are important, it’s our foundational habits—the little things that make us more productive and efficient—that help us reach those goals. So to help you and your team track tasks big and small, we’ve compiled a list of good habits you can do in Slack—like setting daily tips and annual automated reminders—all designed to keep you on track.

Automate daily rituals

No matter your feelings about them, meetings are a part of everyday work life for every team, and Slack can help you manage meetings and streamline related tasks.

Check out the Google Calendar app for Slack. Once you attach it to your main work calendar, you can set it to show your daily schedule via direct message. A list of all your meetings and appointments delivered at 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning is a perfect way to hit the ground running and plan your day as soon as you get to your desk.

We’ve talked about automating tasks like stand-up meetings in Slack before, and it remains an efficient way to replace a 15- 30-minute in-person meeting with a quick Slack message in a channel or on a thread you share with your teammates.

Weekly automated reminders for the whole team

One way to be transparent about imminent dates and deadlines is sending an automated weekly events list from Google Calendar into your team’s channel (it’s the same app as mentioned above). Use it for any list of recurring events your team is involved in, whether that’s a publishing schedule, a lineup of workshops and seminar times, or a set of due dates for upcoming projects. Your team can jump into Mondays knowing what lies ahead.

Automated weekly reminders are great for giving your teams a nudge in their channels. Use them to remind everyone of weekly task management like turning in timesheets, or do fun things like posting throwback photos on Thursdays, or foster team building by posting end-of-week reflections.

Tracking monthly checks and balances

At the end of the month, reminders to do things like turn in expense reports can be automated with a command like this:

/remind me to turn in expense reports on the 25th of every month

Send it to yourself in a direct message or to a team channel, and you’ll never be late with those reports again. The same goes for any task you need to do at the start of each month—automate this reminder by simply adjusting the above command to say “on the 1st of every month.”

To keep your channels up to date with the most pertinent information, set a monthly reminder to check that pinned messages and files are still relevant to current projects and channels, and simply unpin any documents or messages that are no longer necessary.

Quarterly reminders to track task priorities

For a once-a-quarter tasks such as performance reviews, or checking your quarterly team objectives and key results, you can set a reminder with a command like this:

/remind me to check my quarterly OKRs in three months

This is also a good cadence to tidy up your user profile in Slack. If your team uses custom fields, check that your office and desk location, the names of your manager and any direct reports, and your job title are all up to date and correct. If new profile fields are available, fill those out too—it’s a great way to give your coworkers a sense of who you are and how you work.

Annual checkups

The start of a new year—or any time that coincides with a return after a short break—is a good time to do an annual cleanup and maintenance check. Every January, we do a sweep of channels. That includes:

You can also set yearly reminders to celebrate the birthdays and work anniversaries of your team members. Better yet, set them a day or two beforehand so you don’t forget to get them a gift.

Remember these periodic checks to keep everything up to date and your colleagues informed. Whether it’s day to day or week to week, it’s the little things that keep big projects moving forward. Here’s to building a routine and sticking to it.

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