Skip to content

Mastering Slack: How to Mute Notifications for Maximum Productivity

Slack has become the de facto communication tool for many organizations, with over 12 million daily active users across the globe. Its real-time messaging and collaboration features have undoubtedly made it easier for teams to stay connected and work together efficiently.

However, the constant stream of notifications and messages can also be a major source of distraction and interruption throughout the workday. A recent study by Udemy found that 28% of a knowledge worker‘s day is spent on unnecessary interruptions, with distractions causing an average of 2.1 hours of lost productivity per day.

As a digital technology expert, I‘ve seen firsthand how unchecked Slack notifications can hinder focus and derail deep work. That‘s why learning how to effectively manage and mute Slack notifications is a critical skill for maximizing productivity in today‘s always-on work environment.

In this guide, I‘ll share several methods for muting Slack (complete with photos), as well as best practices and recommendations for optimizing your notification settings based on the latest research and data.

The Science of Interruptions

Before we dive into the technical how-to, let‘s examine why interruptions from tools like Slack can be so detrimental to our focus and productivity.

When we‘re interrupted in the middle of a task, it takes a significant amount of time for our brains to refocus and resume work at the same level of depth as before the distraction. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine found that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on task after an interruption.

What‘s more, the same study found that people tend to switch activities every 3 minutes and 5 seconds when working in front of a computer. That means even a brief interruption from a Slack notification can completely derail your focus and lead you down a rabbit hole of unrelated tasks.

As Sophie Leroy, a professor at the University of Washington Bothell School of Business, explains: "As I am still thinking about Task A while trying to do Task B, I don‘t have the cognitive capacity to process those two tasks together and do a perfect job on both tasks. It‘s like I‘m juggling and I‘m letting the balls drop."

Compounding the issue is the fact that an estimated 20.5% of the average knowledge worker‘s time spent on "crucial" projects happens in environments with a high level of distraction, according to Udemy.

All of this research points to the importance of proactively managing interruptions and distractions from tools like Slack. By muting notifications strategically, we can protect our focus, work with greater efficiency, and ultimately achieve better results.

Muting Methods

Here are four ways to mute Slack notifications, ranging from globally silencing all notifications to more granular controls.

Method 1: Mute All Notifications

The simplest way to eliminate Slack distractions is to mute all notifications. Here‘s how:

  1. Click your profile picture in the top right corner of the Slack app.

Slack profile menu

  1. Select "Preferences" from the dropdown menu.

Slack preferences menu item

  1. Under the "Notifications" section, click "Notify me about…"

Slack notifications settings

  1. Select "Nothing" to mute all notifications.

Slack mute all notifications setting

  1. Under the "Sounds & appearance" section, check the box for "Mute all sounds from Slack."

Slack mute all sounds setting

This will completely silence Slack and you will no longer see any pop-up notifications or hear any sounds for new messages and activity. The downside is that you will need to manually check Slack to see if you have any unread messages.

Method 2: Mute Specific Channels

If you only want to silence notifications from particularly busy channels, you can mute them individually:

  1. Navigate to the channel in the left sidebar.

  2. Click the gear icon next to the channel name.

  3. Select "Mute channel" from the menu.

Mute Slack channel

You will still be able to see unread activity in the muted channel, but it will not send any notifications. This is a good option if you want to reduce noise from non-critical channels while still being notified about direct messages and mentions.

Method 3: Mute Conversations

You can also mute notifications from a specific conversation or direct message:

  1. Click the conversation in the left sidebar.

  2. Click the down arrow next to the member‘s name.

  3. Select "Mute conversation" from the menu.

Mute Slack conversation

Note that the other participants in the conversation will not be notified that you‘ve muted them. You simply will not receive notifications about new messages unless you are directly mentioned.

Method 4: Use Do Not Disturb

For a temporary muting solution, Slack‘s Do Not Disturb (DND) feature allows you to pause notifications for a set period of time:

  1. Click the bell icon in the top right corner.

  2. Select a time period for pausing notifications (e.g. 20 minutes, 1 hour, until tomorrow).

  3. Click "Pause notifications."

Slack DND menu

The bell icon will turn gray to indicate DND is enabled. You can disable it at any time by clicking the icon again and selecting "Resume notifications."

You can also set up a recurring DND schedule to automatically pause notifications at certain times or on specific days. Go to Preferences > Pause notifications and select "Set a notification schedule."

Notification Customization

In addition to these muting methods, Slack provides robust options for fine-tuning your notification preferences. Here are a few key customizations to consider:

  • Channel-specific settings: You can choose to receive notifications for all new messages, direct messages and mentions, or nothing at all on a per-channel basis. Click the gear icon next to a channel and select "Notification preferences."

  • Highlight words: Slack can notify you when specific words or phrases are mentioned, even if you have muted a channel or conversation. Go to Preferences > Notifications > My keywords to set these up.

  • Different settings for desktop and mobile: Your notification preferences can be different on desktop and mobile versions of Slack. Make sure to configure your mobile notifications under Preferences > Notifications.

  • Group mentions: By default, Slack notifies you when you‘re mentioned as part of a user group (e.g. @engineering). You can turn this off under Preferences > Notifications > Notify me about… and unchecking the box for "User groups."

Best Practices for Productive Slack Use

Simply muting notifications isn‘t enough – it‘s important to develop productive habits and set clear boundaries around Slack use. Here are some best practices I recommend:

  1. Check Slack intentionally, not reactively. Set aside dedicated times throughout the day to catch up on messages instead of checking every time you see a red badge.

  2. Use Slack‘s "remind me" feature to resurface important messages or tasks when you‘re ready to deal with them. Just click the three dots next to a message and select "Remind me."

  3. Encourage your team to use threaded replies to keep conversations organized and avoid excess notifications. Threads allow for focused discussions without cluttering the main channel.

  4. Be judicious about using @channel and @here mentions, which ping everyone in a channel. Reserve these for truly urgent or important announcements.

  5. Sync your Slack status to automatically update when you‘re in meetings or away from your desk. Click your profile picture > Update your status to link it with your calendar.

  6. Create focus channels for yourself or your team where work-related discussion is kept to a minimum. This could be something like #focus-zone or #headphones-on.

By employing a combination of muting techniques and mindful usage habits, you can take back control of your attention and make Slack work for you instead of against you.


The rise of real-time communication tools like Slack have undoubtedly made collaboration faster and more efficient. But when left unchecked, the constant stream of notifications and messages can seriously hinder our ability to focus and do our best work.

As the research shows, even brief interruptions can have a significant impact on productivity, leading to hours of lost time each day. By learning how to effectively mute Slack notifications and developing intentional usage habits, we can minimize distractions, protect our cognitive resources, and ultimately achieve better results.

The strategies and best practices outlined in this guide are based on a combination of the latest productivity research and my own experience as a digital technology expert. By taking a proactive and intentional approach to managing Slack, you can harness its power as a collaboration tool while mitigating its potential to derail your focus.

Mastering the art of muting is just one small part of living and working smarter in our hyperconnected, always-on digital world – but it can make a big difference in your daily productivity and peace of mind. So go ahead and take control of your Slack notifications, your brain will thank you.