Manage Slack Reminders, Tasks & To-Do Lists
With direct messages, tasks, deadlines, and other ad hoc topics flying left and right, it’s no wonder we’re fighting a war against our attention spans. Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, has been tracking attention spans for years. According to Mark, our attention spans last 47 seconds, down from 75 seconds in 2012.
So it’s no surprise that we’re quick to forget to complete an Asana task, answer our colleague’s question via Slack DM, resend an email report, or whatever else you have on your plate.
Fortunately for Slack users, your go-to communication tool can do much more than send quick messages back and forth. Instead of keeping all those odds and ends inside your head and hoping you’ll remember to do the thing later, you can set reminders, manage tasks, and keep track of your to-do list in Slack.
With these nifty hacks, you can reduce the amount of context switching (and, worse yet, digital tool overload), so you can be more productive, reduce mental fatigue, and get more time back in your workday.
In this mini guide, we’ll walk you through:
- How to use Slack reminders (with examples)
- How to create a to-do list in Slack
- How to integrate your project management tool to manage tasks in Slack (and stay organized)
How to use Slack reminders
Before I show you how to set up reminders in Slack, you should know a couple of things. All members can use this functionality, but guests can only set reminders for themselves. Second, the reminders feature is available on all plans. Take advantage of this neat shortcut even if you’re on the free plan!
Follow these steps to set up a reminder:
1. Open Slack and navigate to the DM or channel for which you want to set a reminder.
2. In the message field, type /remind and select it in the shortcuts pop-up menu.
3. Follow the format provided and enter the details for your reminder. Send it! Below are some examples you can use for inspiration and structural purposes:
/remind me Add new tasks in Asana in 2 hours
/remind me Send a DM to Lauren about the new project in 1 hour
/remind #marketing-team Add updates to the team meeting agenda every Friday
/remind #operations Update billable client hours every Thursday
You may have noticed I’ve asked Slack to send reminders repeatedly. You can set reminders to repeat by the day (as shown above), but not in set time increments.
Now, here’s a look at what the first example looks like in Slack:
And here’s what it looks like after Slackbot captures and saves your reminder:
Slack will save your reminders in the “Later” view (shown below). Access this view using your left-hand side panel. Here, Slack categorizes your tasks as “In progress,” “Archived,” or “Completed.” You can also edit reminders and adjust the time frame as needed.
Best practices for managing Slack reminders
A few final things to note about the Slack reminders feature before you start. Use these tips and tricks to become a productivity guru and check these items off your list.
- Set a default reminder time in your Preferences that works best for you (by default, reminders are set to send at 9:00 am local time for reminders set for a specific day, such as “Every Wednesday”
- Filter your reminders by the due date by using the filter icon in the top right-hand corner of the “Later” view and unchecking the Show upcoming reminders option
- Mark reminders complete from the “In progress” tab to dismiss them and move them over to the “Completed” tab
How to use Slack to-do lists
Despite Slack not being a full-blown project management and to-do list tool, Slack offers some excellent functionality that you can leverage to house to-do lists inside the tool. That way, when your coworker reaches out and asks you to take on a task, you can add it to your list to be sure not to lose sight of it.
Using the Canvas feature
First, Slack recommends using the canvas feature to keep track of your tasks with easy-to-use checklists. Follow these steps to create your own:
1. Open Slack and navigate to Direct messages. Then, locate the message with yourself.
2. In the top right-hand corner, click the icon that looks like a sticky note to open a new canvas.
3. Add headers and customize your to-do list however you’d like. Use the checkbox feature to add tasks to your to-do list to cross them off the list upon completion easily. Here’s an example:
The canvas feature works great for building custom to-do lists for easy access inside Slack. You can add links to your list and paste them as URLs or cards, similar to a Trello Kanban board.
Using the post feature for shareable lists
In addition to the canvas feature (which works great for private to-do lists), you can create a to-do list using the post feature and share it with your colleague via DM or add it to a channel.
To create a to-do list as a post, follow these steps:
1. Open Slack and navigate to Direct messages. Then, locate the message with yourself. (You can open any message and open a post, but I recommend using your DM with yourself to be safe.)
2. Click the plus sign in the lower left-hand corner of the window and select Create a post.
3. A new window will open. By default, posts are private. You can add a title, notes, files, and links to build a to-do list here. Add bullet points using the “-” or “*” keys. (Pro-tip: Add some text and highlight it with your cursor to view more formatting options such as headers, the ability to add links, numbered lists, and checkboxes.)
4. If you’d like to share your list with a colleague or a team, click the Share button in the upper right-hand corner. Choose which DM or channel you want to share the post with, check or uncheck the box that reads, “Let others edit this post,” depending on your preference, add a comment if you’d like, and send it!
How to use Slack tasks
Sure, it’s great to manage to-do lists directly inside Slack. But we know that sometimes you need to transfer tasks to your team or company’s project management tool to avoid disrupting workflows.
First, you’ll need to add your project management app to Slack. Browse the “project management” category in the Slack app store to find what you need. In addition to the tools noted above, you’ll also find Miro, Jira, Confluence Cloud, Notion, Clickup, Todoist, Evernote, and so much more!
Once you add the app to your Slack workspace, creating, updating, and delegating tasks is easy. Follow these steps:
1. Navigate to the channel or DM where you want to add a new task.
2. Use the shortcut for your tool to view the commands and actions you can take in Slack (such as creating a new task). For example, for Asana, the shortcut is: /asana
3. Select Create a task…
4. Add the details for your task, including the assignee, project, due date, and optional notes. You’re all set!
Pro-tip: When you add the integration for your project management tool, you can receive notifications and updates in the “Apps” menu in your left-hand side panel. You’ll receive a message when a new task is assigned to you, so you never miss a beat. You can also update the status of a task directly in Slack under More actions… as shown below.
Create time to complete your Asana tasks with Clockwise
Some tasks are bigger than others and may require uninterrupted work time to complete. Beyond tasks like checking emails, sending Slack messages, and rote admin work, there’s value in setting aside time to tackle those large pieces of work that require some critical thinking and focus. That’s where Clockwise can help.
Clockwise is an AI-powered productivity tool and calendar assistant that optimizes individual and team calendars for a more efficient workday. With Clockwise, you can find the best times to meet while making more Focus Time for your to-do list stored in Slack. Simply tell Clockwise how much Focus Time you need for your to-do list, and it will work its magic to protect that time on your calendar automatically.
Run with the power of Slack
Do you need a slight nudge to ensure you complete a high-priority task by the end of the week? Set up a Slack reminder. Are you struggling to manage your to-dos and want to consolidate them in one place for easy access? Try setting up a to-do list in Slack. Do you want to manage tasks in your project management tool without switching between apps?
Take advantage of Slack’s integrations and manage your tasks directly from Slack. Reminders, to-do lists, and tasks are great Slack features to help you better manage your workday and get some time back.