Keep organized, never forget stuff again
These days, employees have so much to remember. Forgetting small details or overlooking critical issues can make all the difference between success and failure. I realized this when I was always having to look up the same information several times a day, or face-palming myself when I forgot an important meeting.
That’s why an app such as Slack should be welcomed. As well as it being a portable chatroom on steroids, it can also act as your second brain. A brain that never forgets the nitty-gritty details (provided you keep paying the monthly bill that is).
Meetings, birthday reminders, bill payment reminders, and customer complaints are just some of the many things it can help you with. The only things it can’t do is fetch your coffee or get your suit from the dry cleaners.
Slack – Your Uncomplaining Colleague That Never Forgets
I’m sure you already know what Slack is, but if for any reason Slack is new to you, check out this explanation page on the Slack website.
The bottom line is that Slack is essentially a self-contained chat room which teams and groups can use to discuss whatever they want, whether it is work-related matters or a niche interest. It is web-based, a cross-platform desktop program, and a smartphone app, making it fully portable and convenient to stay in touch.
How To Set Up Your Own Private Slack Room For Free
Although Slack is meant mainly for teams and groups, there’s also nothing stopping you from setting up your own private room. Then you can turn it into your second brain, feeding in all kinds of useful information and reminders. Or use it to talk to yourself. Whatever makes you happy.
This data can be sent to your smartphone as push notifications, making sure you never forget an important appointment ever again.
Build Your Second Brain To Address Your Pain Points
Once you set your room up, it’s time to figure out your “pain points”. In other words, what are the persistent problems you keep having, and how can your new second brain help you solve those problems?
A third option is to go completely wacky and use both! But to keep this article concise, we will focus today only on Slack’s integrations.
The one restriction to the Slack integrations side of things is that the free plan is limited to a maximum of ten integrations. If you want more than ten, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan – which is extremely affordable and very much worth it.
So here are a few potential pain points you may be having in your life and how Slack can change the way you deal with them. Each one should ideally be fed into its own channel to keep everything separate and organized.
We first come to the big one – remembering things. We don’t all have eidetic memories so there are bound to be little things that slip between the sofa cushions of your mind.
The Slack Integration Solution – Slackbot or Google Calendar.
We will be looking at Slackbot in the next section. But another one which works extremely well is Google Calendar. Give Slack permission to access your Google calendar and any updates to your calendar from there on will be pushed to your Slack channel. This includes new events, updated events, cancelled events, and events already on your calendar.
Twitter Direct Mentions
Social media is increasingly being used these days for customer support, as well as customers complaining about a company’s service or product.
If you accidentally miss a direct mention on Twitter from a disgruntled customer, that can make things a thousand times worse from many perspectives. So how do you make sure that direct mentions are seen and responded to quickly?
The Slack integration ties directly into your Twitter account and you will be asked to give Slack authorization to access your Twitter account. This authorization can be revoked at any time.
After specifying which channel the tweets should go to (I recommend a “tweets” or “feedback” channel), you will begin to see them coming in whenever your Twitter username is mentioned.
Customer Support Tickets
If you are selling something or offering a service, customer support is an absolute must. You can’t just sell your product then wash your hands of the client.
There are many ways to have a customer support system ranging from the free (the aforementioned Twitter Direct Mentions for example) to the expensive set-ups. But what if you want your support tickets fed into your Slack room?
The Slack Integration Solution – Support Board
The issue with customer support services is that they are not free. Slack only provides a service to connect your customer service platform to a third-party app. But to get the actual customer service platform, you have to research your needs, figure out your budget, and sign up for something.
The cheapest one (but only if you have a WordPress site) is Support Board which only costs $30. Visitors to your website will have their support queries re-routed to your Slack room and you can interact with them there.
RSS is seen by some people as an antiquated technology, superseded by the likes of social media. But in actual fact, there are many instances where RSS is alive and kicking, and actually BETTER than social media!
So if there is a site you want to keep up with, how can you do it using RSS and Slack?
The Slack Integration Solution – RSS
Slack has its own RSS solution, similar to Zapier’s and there appears to be no limit to the number of RSS feeds you can enter.
After entering the feed address and the destination channel in Slack for the updates, entries will slowly start coming in.
You can also manage your feeds from within Slack by using the /feed help command.
Never Forget An Important Email Ever Again
A lot of peoples email boxes look like a major disaster area, with many striving to achieve Inbox Zero (and not doing too well at it). This can lead to important emails being lost in the crush and forgotten about.
So what if you could automatically forward certain emails into your Slack room so you can remember to follow up on them?
The Slack Integration Solution – Email
Upon activating the email integration, and specifying which Slack channel the email should be funnelled to, you will be given a randomly-generated Slack email address. Any email forwarded to this address will show up in your Slack channel.
This method is also great for any email newsletters which you want to see as soon as they appear.
A Read-It-Later List
Throughout the day, you will most likely come across links you want to investigate more thoroughly later. Maybe it is an industry-related report you would like to read, or a YouTube video sent to you by a friend or colleague?
Your best bet in this regard is to open an account with either Pocket or Instapaper. But using these accounts on their own means there is a good chance you will bookmark something then forget about it.
Having it pop up in Slack on the other hand is a nice handy reminder…..
The Slack Integration Solution – Pocket
Slack surprisingly does not have an integration for Instapaper. Instead, the other alternative is IFTTT.
Slack’s Pocket offering goes in the other direction though. Rather than new additions to Pocket showing up in Slack, you can use this Slack integration to save new links in Slack to Pocket.
So if your colleague sends you a link in Slack and you don’t have time to read it right now, you can right-click on the Slack menu and choose “Save To Pocket”. It will then sync with your Pocket account, ready for you to read later.
Mr Slack, The Stockbroker
A lot of companies are now public with their own stock offerings and your company may be no exception. Or perhaps you are in the financial industry and need to keep on top of stock prices.
If that describes you, Mr Slack the Stockbroker can watch for those fluctuations and present them to you in your Slack room.
The Slack Integration Solution – TickerPal
As you can imagine, there are quite a few options for checking out stock prices. But one which seems to work quite well is TickerPal.
Once installed, just type /ticker followed by the stock ticker you want to get more information about. Apple is AAPL so if you wanted to check out Apple’s current share price, you would type /ticker AAPL . This then appears.
Slackbot Is Your New BFF
One of Slack’s “secret weapons” (in that not many people either know about it or use it to its full advantage) is Slackbot.
Slackbot is a bot which can be programmed to give specific replies to particular keywords. So if you find you are always forgetting the company bank details to send to a client, you can program Slackbot to fire you the details if you give it a keyword.
You can make the keyword whatever you want, but it should obviously be a single word which you will remember instantly.
So if I type “iban” into Slack, it sends me my bank details, which I can then copy and paste into an email or invoice.
Or if I type “vat”, it tells me my company VAT number, which is another thing I am always forgetting.
Damn, what was my tax number again? Help me out Slackbot.
Oh yes….thanks buddy.
See what I mean about figuring out your pain points?
So make a list of all the small important details you are constantly forgetting. Then go to Slackbot’s customization area, and enter that information individually along with the relevant keyword. Remember to save all of your updates.
Now you can test it. Click on your name under “Slackbot”. This is the small private room I mentioned at the beginning of the article. Once there, enter one of your keywords and watch the reply pop up.
You will need password access to the Slack room on the Slack website to be able to access the customization area, which is another good reason to set up your own room. Your boss is hardly likely to hand over the company Slack password.
Slack will also remind you of anything you tell it to. So if you have an urgent appointment, or you need to call someone…anything really….you would set it up like this.
/remind [@someone or #channel] [what] [when]
So say you have to phone someone at 3.00pm. Go to Slackbot (under the Direct Messages section) and you would type it like this.
/remind @me call the new client at 3.00pm
You will then get a confirmation that Slackbot has understood your request.
Then at the appointed time, you will get the reminder (and a push notification if you have those enabled).
If you need a second kick up the butt, you can snooze the reminder until later.
Using a combination of both Slack and IFTTT integrations, there can be virtually no limitations to what you can get Slack to do on your behalf. It will remember everything so you won’t have to, and it won’t need a vacation and a 401K. What a bargain!
Can you think of any ways that the concept of the Slack second brain can be expanded and improved upon? What else do you think it can remember on your behalf?