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Time Management
How to quickly change your Slack status to away or busy

How to quickly change your Slack status to away or busy

Judy Tsuei
May 20, 2021
Updated on:
March 11, 2024

How to quickly change your Slack status to away or busy
Photo by 

What if your Slack status could update in real-time whether you’re in a meeting, outside of working hours, out of office, or heads-down on a project? Good news! With Clockwise, you can instantly — and automatically — update your Slack status according to your calendar. It’s an easy and effective way to stay aligned as a team, especially in this era of remote and hybrid work.

In this quick guide, you’ll learn:

  • How to sync your Slack status with Google Calendar or Outlook
  • How to manually set status in Slack
  • The difference between your Slack status and availability
  • Plus, more tips for using Slack effectively

Curious about creating more time in your workday? Clockwise optimizes your schedule to create a smarter calendar. You can learn more here. If you’d like to learn how to implement a time management toolkit for your team, we also offer solutions for teams.

Slack status vs. availability vs. Do Not Disturb

Within Slack, there are three ways to let your team members know how quickly they can expect you to respond to messages:

  1. Status
  2. Availability
  3. Do Not Disturb mode

You can find all of these settings by clicking on your profile picture in the top right corner of Slack, just like below. 

set up a slack status
Slack Status and Settings

Your availability is the green or empty dot displayed next to your name, signaling whether you’re active or away.

Your Slack status is a short descriptive text of what you’re currently working on, accompanied by an emoji.

Lastly, Do Not Disturb mode (or DND) refers to when your notifications are paused. While updating your Slack status manually, you have the option of enabling DND during the duration of your status.

How to set your Slack availability

First, let’s take a look at how to update your availability. This feature displays a dot next to your name and lets your co-workers know whether you’re active or away from Slack — just with a quick glance.

You can manually set your availability to active or away at any time by clicking on your profile picture in the top right corner. Click Set yourself as away if you’re currently in the active status, or Set yourself as active if you’re currently in the away status.

set status to active
Slack active status

set status to away
Slack away status

By default, Slack determines whether you’re active or away based on your desktop activity. After 10 minutes of desktop and mobile inactivity, Slack automatically sets your availability to away.

How to your Slack status: the manual way

The second way to communicate your responsiveness on Slack is to update your online status. You can update your Slack status either manually or automatically using Clockwise. We’ll show you both, starting with the manual version.

  1. On Slack desktop, click on your profile picture in the top-right corner.
  2. Select Update your status.
  3. Choose from one of the suggested statuses, or enter a custom status using the empty text field.

Choose from selected statuses
Choose from suggested statuses

  1. If you choose a custom status, don’t forget to select an accompanying emoji. Additionally, let Slack know how long you want your status to run for, and whether or not you want to pause notifications in the meantime.
custom slack status
Choose a custom status
  1. Hit Save, and you’re done!

How to set your Slack status emoji

Every status has an emoji associated with it. If you don’t select a custom status emoji, Slack displays a 💬 speech balloon by default.

Your team can see your status emoji next to your name. To see your full status they can click into your profile or hover their mouse over your status emoji on desktop.

Note: Colleagues in externally shared channels won’t be able to see your status.

To manually update your Slack status and associated emoji, click on your profile picture in the top right corner when the Slack desktop app is open and click into your status field, located right below “Active” or “Away.” Click the pencil. Then click on the emoji to select an emoji to replace the current one with a new emoji.

How to update your Slack status: the automatic way

Ever wish you could schedule Slack status updates according to your calendar? With Clockwise for Slack, it’s easier than ever to keep your Slack status up-to-date. Clockwise syncs your calendar (Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook) with your Slack status, so you never have to bother with a manual update.

Imagine breezing through your schedule — from meeting to Focus Time to meeting again — knowing that your Slack status is automatically keeping up with you. 

Clockwise is the quickest, easiest way to sync Slack with Google Calendar and Outlook. Plus, it’s free! 

If you’re not using Clockwise yet, click here to get started for free. The first time you sign up for Clockwise, you can sync your calendar with Slack as part of the onboarding flow.

If you’re already a Clockwise user, follow these instructions to give Clockwise permission to sync your calendar with Slack:

  1. Open the Clockwise web app (
  2. Click on Connected apps in the main menu
  3. Select Add to Slack
  4. Sign into Slack and follow the on-screen prompts to grant permissions

After you to through the steps above, you’ll receive a Slack notification from the Clockwise app that looks something like this:

slack google calendar sync
Clockwise for Slack

Click Set your preferences to customize your settings. For example, you can tell Clockwise to update your Slack status with or without event titles. You can also tell Clockwise to automatically turn on Do Not Disturb when you’re in meetings, in Focus Time, or both.

Status emojis with Clockwise

When you sync your calendar and Slack through Clockwise, a status-specific emoji will show up next to your name in Slack.

Slack sync ooo

Slack sync OOO

Here’s a rundown of all of Clockwise’s emojis and what they mean:

  • 🗓 – In a meeting
  • 💡 – Focus Time 
  • ⛔️ – Out of Office
  • The current phase of the moon [🌕🌖🌗🌘🌑🌒🌓🌔] – Before Working Hours or Outside of Working Hours
  • Note: This status will only sync on days you are working (i.e. not on weekends)
  • Based on the meeting setup, you may also see this emoji in accompaniment with any of the above: 🔕Slack notifications are muted

We also offer the option to turn on an automatic Do Not Disturb response when someone messages you when you’re out of office, in Focus Time, or otherwise unavailable based on your calendar. This lets your teammates know when they shouldn’t expect a fast response. It’s especially handy for remote work or working from home where you might be collaborating across time zones.

The Clockwise Slack sync also offers a daily forecast of your meetings to help you prepare for your day.

Clockwise slack integration
Clockwise Slack sync daily forecast

Going forward

There are multiple ways to quickly change your Slack status to away, busy, or a custom status and emoji. You can do it manually. Or, you can sync Slack with Google Calendar or Outlook. This Slack integration makes your work life easier in at least three ways:

  1. It can automate Slack status based on your calendar. 
  2. It offers you and your teammates a preview of your day and your team’s day.
  3. It kills unwanted interruptions for deep focus with Do Not Disturb.

To start syncing Slack with Google Calendar and Outlook, click here. If you’re not a Clockwise user yet, click here to get started for free.

Interested in implementing a Smarter Schedule for your workday?

  • Clockwise – Get started using Clockwise with Focus Time, Flexible Meetings, Scheduling Links, and Powerful Integrations here.
  • Smart Calendar for Teams – Teams on a paid plan see 44% more Focus Time created on average. Watch a demo of our Shared Calendar App or contact us for a walkthrough.

About the author

Judy Tsuei

Judy Tsuei is a Simon & Schuster author, speaker, and podcast host. She has been writing for Clockwise for several years while also being featured in MindBodyGreen, BBC Travel, Fast Company, Hello Giggles, and more. As the founder of Wild Hearted Words, a creative marketing agency for global brands, Judy is also a mentor with the Founder Institute, the world's largest pre-seed accelerator. Judy advocates for mental and emotional health on her popular podcast, F*ck Saving Face. Follow along her journey at

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