Everyone hates their email inbox, but I've finally found a decent solution for filtering though the endless firehose of messages I have to deal with on a daily basis: using a paid, empty Slack team.
This might sound absurd, but Slack is the perfect tool for all of those annoying alerts, notifications and other information you need throughout the day—that probably don't need to clog up your inbox.
Here's how my system works: automate everything possible away from email into Slack, where it becomes the ultimate focused news feed.
For my apps and services, like Charged, I wire up monitoring alerts, errors, subscription changes, and backup statuses to post into their own respective channels. This way, I can keep a finger on the pulse of those applications, but avoid my inbox being flooded all day long with notification emails.
These channels are named #admin-[service], so that they're easy to scan, and grouped together in the sidebar. Charged, for example, is #admin-charged, and has these integrations set up:
- Stripe's integration posts updates whenever any of my customers cancels or updates their subscriptions, as well as whenever anyone new joins.
- Sentry to post detailed errors as soon as they happened, as well as who is affected.
- I use Hyperping to monitor for uptime, which pipes outage notifications into Slack using the email integration.
- Laravel Forge alerts me using the webhook integration whenever a deployment succeeds or fails.
- DigitalOcean's integration pings me directly when the memory, CPU or disk usage is too high on a droplet.
- Podrover for whenever a new review on the podcast appears.
- Google Alerts piped into Slack with this IFTTT recipe any time char.gd is mentioned on the web.
- Twitter, which posts any time the @chargedtech account is mentioned, so I can respond without needing to remember to check.
- Backup success/failure reports each day with this handy PHP package.
For my personal tools, I run these through a channel called #daily that helps keep on top of what's coming up or needs attention:
- Google Calendar, which posts my agenda every morning at 9AM, as well as when any meeting is created or updated.
- IFTTT, which pipes in general smart home alerts, like whenever the temperature at home hits over 25C, which probably means I should open a window for the cat.
- Google Drive, which posts any comments from collaborators on documents that I own.
- Todoist, which only posts whenever something on my to-do list is about to fall due.
Many of these tools are 'two way' integrations, so Todoist, for example, allows me to create a new meeting by just typing "/todoist remember milk tomorrow morning #food" and it's automagically added to the right list.
The catch with all of this? Slack's free tier only allows a limited amount of integrations, so I actually pay for a business account with one user. That's $5 a month, but it's less email to deal with, and best of all, it helps me keep on top of things I might otherwise forget to check in on, as well as being able to completely unsubscribe from these noisy emails.
Most importantly, it's much easier to wade through alerts and quick catch-ups of my calendar than it is through those individual emails I'd usually have to pore over. After getting out of bed in the morning, I quickly check each channel to make sure my servers haven't broken overnight, and get on with my day.
Sure, I'm using Slack alone...but it's probably the most zen Slack team I'm in! If you have any ideas for things I should be adding to my empty Slack team, or feel inspired to make your own, fire away in the comments.