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Is Chat Sucking the Work Out of Your Work?

Mark Palfreeman
3 min readJan 17, 2017


In the days after posting my goals for 2017, I’ve been haunted by the brevity and ever-advancing nature of time. Our 5-month-old daughter was just so small she would sleep on our chests at any moment throughout the day, and suddenly she’s twice the size and taking scheduled naps in her crib. I can’t get days (or hours) back, and I want to cherish and revel in the moments that I do have.

Many of these goals are either alongside work or entirely extracurricular, which means I need to make the most of my work hours to free up the time necessary to build relationships with family and friends, work on our house, and maintain exercise and a couple hobbies.

And if I’m honest, my job’s biggest dent in that productivity is the chat app Slack. Widely praised as the industry’s best of its kind, this tool is blazing fast, completely intuitive, and loaded with features. And due to humans’ propensity to addiction and self-gratification, it can also be incredibly distracting. I know it is for me.

This isn’t Slack’s (or Hipchat’s, Telegram’s, Gitter’s, or Discord’s) fault — it’s mine. When I get stuck on a problem or run into hard work, the best way out is to bail out of context in search for something mindless and easy. Something mentally relieving, and maybe even rewarding. I could say something funny on Slack and get a good…