Reclaim Your Productivity in Slack With Geekbot’s Focus Mode

You’re working on a crucial task. The deadline is tomorrow. Energized and laser-focused, you start this morning by doing what might be the best work of your life.

Ts TuTuTu! *Slack notification pops up*

It’s Amy. She very much liked the idea you proposed during the last standup. She wants to give it a go. 

You feel a small rush of excitement. “Someone needs me. I’m doing the right things here!”

You reply to Amy and get right back to your task. The deadline is a bit closer now, but you’re still focused and ready to shine. 

Ts TuTuTu!

It’s Mark. He really struggles with the latest build push and needs your advice. How can you not help him? Helping each other is part of your core company values.

30 minutes later you’re back to your work. 

Ts TuTuTu! Ts TuTuTu!

Ok, what’s going on?! You glance at Slack #support channel. Your team is heatedly discussing the latest feature. You helped develop that feature. You hop on the discussion.

The chat was engaging and full of interesting ideas: you helped many people, read many interesting opinions. You feel pretty good. Then you look at the clock.

It’s past 6 p.m. You haven’t written a single line of code. The deadline is still tomorrow. 

You go and tell your family you won’t be able to check out this new movie with them. Disgruntled and stressed out, you turn off the Slack. You’re working into the night.

Is Slack Productive?

If the scenario above seems a bit unrealistic to you, consider the data below. 

Employees on average receive 45 Slack messages during an 8-hour work day. That’s 45 potential interruptions. 

According to Microsoft study, we need about 25 minutes to get back to the task we were working on after every interruption

If you multiply 45 messages by 25 minutes, you get an utterly unproductive workforce.

How is this possible? After all, Slack positions themselves as a team productivity tool. “Where work happens,” right?

Partially, it’s true. According to the official Slack website, 32% of teams reported productivity increase after using the messenger. [Makes you wonder: what did the other 68% report]

But if you think something is off, you’re right. 

On June 27, 2018, when Slack was down for a few hours, a 3rd party time-tracking software registered a 5% surge in productivity for its 12,000+ customers that were using Slack.

As Acilia Liu, a software programmer at Notion sums it up: “By lowering the barrier to initiate communication, the hidden side effect is that Slack has the quiet capacity to exponentially increase communication overhead. Resulting in much more voluminous, lower quality communication.”

On average, workers check out their messengers every 6 minutes

blog.rescuetime.com

We don’t say Slack is terrible. It’s actually the reverse. Slack users report a 25.1% reduction in meetings after using the service. With the right approach and integrations Slack provides amazing benefits for your team culture, transparency, and collaboration.

But left unchecked its effect on team productivity can be disastrous.

So, what can you do to reap all the benefits of Slack and yet allow people to focus and do their best work?

Well, the first solution is to turn Slack off. But if you do that every time you need to work, you might as well delete it.

We developed a better solution.

The Solution

Five years ago I was obsessed with a problem: my team was using Slack daily, but no one actually knew what everyone was working on.

Daily standup meetings didn’t help, they only distracted us and added to the chaos. We needed to find a way to share both our work progress and roadblocks without distracting each other.

In August 2015 I sat down and wrote a prototype for Slack bot that would help us hold asynchronous meetings directly in Slack. That way we utilized the full power of Slack and at the same time could effectively communicate our work status with each other. 

That’s how Geekbot was born.

Geekbot report

It’s safe to say we solved the puzzle of team productivity

Today our team and thousands of other remote teams with the likes of Zapier, Github, and Shopify are using Geekbot daily to increase their productivity, improve collaboration, and run effective asynchronous meetings directly in Slack.

But oddly enough no one properly addressed the problem of individual productivity in Slack.

Which is strange given that nowadays there are many well-known productivity hacks, including well-documented and brilliantly effective Pomodoro technique.


The technique is so effective because it’s utterly simple: all you need is to concentrate on a task for 25 minutes without any distractions. Then take a short break for 5 minutes. Rinse and repeat.

But to concentrate for 25 minutes in Slack with all the notifications, discussions, and threads seemed like an impossible task. 

Up until now.

Enter Geekbot: Focus Mode

Focus Mode is a free Slack integration that enables you to focus on important tasks without any distractions from your working environment.

How Does Focus Mode Work?

Before you start Focus Mode you need to choose a task you’ll be working on. Then you can set a time you need to complete it. Lastly, set a desired break time. 

After you turn on Focus Mode on any of your chosen tasks, all your Slack notifications will automatically switch off. At the same time Do not Disturb mode will be activated.


How Would My Colleagues Know I’m in Focus Mode?

When you turn on Focus Mode, the name of your task along with focus mode target image will be displayed as your Slack status.

This way everyone will clearly see your status and what you work on when they try to reach out.

How Does Geekbot Work With Focus Mode

Focus Mode can be directly integrated with Geekbot.

When you report with Geekbot, it automatically imports your “to do” tasks in Focus Mode.

On top of that Geekbot will automatically add all the tasks that you have completed with Focus Mode in the last 36 hours to your daily Geekbot report.

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