How Slack improved my family life

Before Slack, managing my household with my wife was a mix of WhatsApp messages, Hangout conversations, and real-world conversations. It was confusing, with no way for us to organise what we were talking about.

Often during the day, probably in one of our Hangout chats, we would have multiple conversations happening. We’d end up either missing questions or mixing up the answers to the multiple topics on the go. And later on, we would struggle to find whatever we were chatting about.

On top of that we had the household calendar to organise. We would often need to remind each other of appointments, social gatherings, or other events.

Trying to keep up with the household (courtesy giphy.com)

Introduce Slack (slack.com).

Slack is a team-based service offering a number of features such as channels for separate topics, reminders, to-do lists, and further integrations with external services.

After reading an article about another guy who was using Slack for his family, I thought we could try it in our household.

What a difference!

Initially, it felt like just another messaging app. The weather and location alerts were ‘natty’, but not jaw-dropping.

For me, the real benefit was seen when 2 things happened: A major earthquake, and planning our holiday. After a major earthquake event in New Zealand during November 2016, the alerts coming into our Slack channel were really so beneficial. There was no need to go look for official updates anywhere else. And when we planned our holiday, the holiday channel was heavily utilised with chats, ideas, reminders, and to-do items. All of this without having to get lost or mixed up with other discussions on the go.

Overall, we were able to separate our conversations into channels such as sustainability, upcoming holiday planning, and general chats. We could set up reminders – individually or for everyone – to pay bills, make appointments, or do something around the house.

We integrated Twitter and IFTTT services for emergency alerts, weather forecasts, and location-based alerts. I even set up my mailing list integration in a channel for my own use.

We now have a well-oiled machine, which I’m pretty sure is because of our Slack usage.

The (mostly)full list of our Slack use:

Use cases:

Emergency alerts – We live in an earthquake area, so being notified about certain events is important to us. We have 2 Twitter accounts that notify straight into an Emergency channel.

Incoming emergency alerts from Twitter

My location – Because I work about an hour away from home, we have found it helpful to know whether I’ve arrived or left the city. Because I’m forgetful and never let my wife know, its now automated!

Household calendar – Knowing what’s happening is important to us. We have a Household Google Calendar which automatically notifies any changes into Slack. There is also a daily reminder at 7am so we know if there’s anything important later in the day.

Household calendar reminder

Next day weather forecast – We don’t need to know exact weather conditions, but it does help to know if it’s forecast to rain or not.

Next day’s weather

Channels:

An example of our channel list

General – General chat.

Emergency – Alerts from @geonet_above4 and @WREMOinfo for earthquakes and emergency notification. We also have a to-do list in this channel for items we still need to get for our emergency pack.

Holiday – For chat about upcoming holidays like accommodation or sightseeing ideas. Similar this has appropriate todo lists or reminders associated with this channel.

Mailing list – Mailchimp integrated alerts from my mailing list. To-do items for me and the website.

Money – Our discussions around finances.

Learning – ongoing learning ideas for us such as online courses or webinars that we’ve come across.

Waste free – Discussion and ideas for our journey to be more sustainable.

Integrations:

Twitter (twitter.com) – receiving alerts for emergency situation purposes.

IFTTT (ifttt.com) – location alert for when I enter or leave the city where I work; next day’s weather alert in the afternoon. IFTTT is awesome btw. Uber useful. Check it out!)

Google (gsuite.google.com) – Household calendar entry notifications; Google Drive. (We pay for G Suite, but you can integrate Google’s free accounts too)

Giphy (giphy.com) – the most important Slack integration! 🙂

Aaahh (courtesy giphy.com)

 

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