I deleted Slack from my phone

2023-01-13 09:22:10 +0100 +0100

I have, once again, deleted Slack from my phone. It was an early new year’s gift to myself. This time I hope it will stick.

A screenshot of Slack download page on iOS app store, with a red X through the download button

I’ve had Slack on my phone off and on since ~2014. At first, I found it was a convenient way to stay in touch with colleagues and move things forward faster, especially when I was balancing being a new father + the somewhat irregular hours that come with that, along with having some responsibility for other people and group projects at work and feeling like I needed to be able to be available to people whenever they needed to talk to me.

More recently, while working from Germany with a number of colleagues in Americas timezones, I found that it was so tempting to respond to questions or chat with people, perhaps in between steps while cooking dinner, or walking from one room to another, or before going to sleep, or whatever.

Eventually I noticed that my attention and mental energy is sucked into a device in supposed off-hours where it’s also annoying and frustrating to meaningfully contribute, e.g. typing technical terms into the chat box on my phone never worked well, or I’d want to leave a longer comment referencing other threads or tickets / patches, but doing that on a phone is cumbersome.

Or, there would be a deep conversation that I either have something to contribute to, or want to make sure to read, but since there is no way to mark a message or thread as unread (one thing that email gets right!), I would use Slack reminders to be sure to follow up the next day. Then I’d end up with dozens and dozens of these piled up in my Slackbot message chat the next morning:

A screenshot of uncompleted Slack reminders

While it’s not terrible to add those to my organizational system it is definitely annoying and tedious. Better to be blissfully unaware of those messages, and deal with them the next day, when I’m mentally alert and “on the clock”.

Which is my next point: while I haven’t deleted the app from my desktop, and realistically couldn’t with my work responsibilities, I have set a status to let people know that I am trying to carve out mental space for “deep work” and attempting to avoid the potentially endless stream of distraction:

tl;dr I’m trying to abandon the shallower, “always available” mode of being and prioritizing my time and mental space, with the aim of slower, more methodical and thoughtful engagement.