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I don’t like Slack. The platform has become just another place to check, another distraction from getting focused work done.

I’ve come to suspect that my problems with Slack have more to do with my failings than the tool. Most of my colleagues seem to do great with Slack. For them, Slack appears to have improved communications and productivity.

Perhaps what needs to happen is that I need to get better at Slack. Once that happens, I will like Slack better.

Here are five ways that I can think of where my Slack skills are deficient.

1. The Mistake of Using Slack Like Email

I seem to be slacking in the same way that I do email. I’m not that great at email. My email messages are usually too long. That deficit translates to Slack.

Neither Slack nor email is the right place to work out what one thinks. For anyone who thinks by writing, both email and Slack are bad. You need to know what you want to say in both mediums and say it concisely.

2. Having Little Skills in Slack Small Talk

I’m not particularly good at small talk in real life. I wish I were better. Truly. That blind spot seems to translate into Slack. People who are good at Slack seem to know how to pitch the conversation. Good Slackers are good at reading the digital room.

3. Not Having the Discipline to Stay Off Slack

One of my problems with Slack is that I’m on Slack. Or at least on Slack too often. Maybe Slack would be better in small and controlled doses if I had the discipline to read and write Slack messages maybe twice a day—first thing in the morning and last thing at the end of the day.

Doing less Slack may make me feel as if Slack is not detracting from concentrated work and sustained thinking. But isn’t the point of Slack to be sort of like near real-time conversations? Is it possible to have less structured Slack-type communications while also not spending time and brainpower on Slack?

4. Not Knowing All the Power-User Slack Tricks

People who like Slack seem to be facile with the tool. They seem to move easily through channels and find the information they need. They do fancy things like initiate Zoom conversations from Slack.

It must just be me, but I’ve always found the user interface of Slack somewhat baffling.

5. Challenged to Do Two Things at Once

One Slack thing I’ve noticed is that the tool seems to have become a back channel. Colleagues Slack to each other while in Zoom meetings. (The private chat function in Zoom is too easy to screw up and accidentally chat to the wrong person or everyone in the meeting.) So Slack seems like a safer place.

I’ve tried to do this also, this Slack back-channeling in Zoom. Whenever I back-channel in Slack, I lose the thread of what gets discussed in Zoom.

Good Slack users can do more than one thing at once.

What about you? Do you like Slack? Are you good at Slack? How did you get good at Slack? What does one do when they are bad at a tool that most everyone else likes and uses well?

Are there other digital tools like Slack that your colleagues have adopted and mastered and that you can’t seem to figure out?

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