How to Keep a To Do List in Slack

Slack is not a dedicated tool for creating to-do lists. But so much workplace communication happens on Slack these days, and most people struggle to get things done without to-do lists.

Despite not having a dedicated to-do list feature, Slack does allow you to create to-do lists in several ways. Using these methods, you can pull tasks from your Slack conversations and add them to a list for yourself or your team members.

In this detailed article, I’ll cover all the different methods you can use to keep a to-do list in Slack and some of the common problems you might face in doing it.

Let’s dive in.

Use Slack Posts To Keep A To-Do List In Slack

Creating a post is the quickest way to keep a to-do list in Slack.

Slack posts work just like Google Docs or any other document editor. It gives you a simple interface to create, edit, and save your documents directly in Slack.

It comes with a standard text editor with all the necessary formatting options to organize your content through headlines, bullet points, and checklists.

You can use Slack posts to create articles, meeting notes, or checklists for yourself and your team members.

To create a checklist in Slack posts, you simply need to choose the checklist format option for a section of your text, and Slack will automatically turn it into checklist points.

When you complete a point on the checklist, just mark it as complete for everyone to know.

Here’s the step-by-step process for creating a checklist in Slack posts.

Step 1: Sign in to your Slack workspace and open any chat window.

Step 2: Click on the lightning bolt icon to the left of your message box.

Step 3: Click Create a post. The Slack post editor will open in a new tab, leaving your regular Slack window and all channels open in the original tab.

As you can see, it has a plain and simple interface that you can start using immediately.

Step 4: Start your checklist by giving it a title where it says Add a title. This will also become the post name by default.

Step 5: Below the title field, click in the body content field and enter the first item on your to-do list. At this stage, it will appear as a simple sentence, not a to-do list item.

Step 6: Now select a portion of this text and hover your mouse pointer over it to display the formatting options. Click the checklist icon at the far right of the formatting options.

Step 7: Your text will now show as a to-do list item with a check box.

Step 8: Press the Enter key and start adding more items to your to-do list. Every new item on the list will have a checkbox next to it.

Step 9: To mark an item on your to-do list as completed, click on the checkbox next to it to check it off and strikethrough the text.

Tip: If you want to switch back to regular text content, press the Enter key twice after the last item on your to-do list.

Using this method, you can create as many to-do lists as you want in Slack.

By default, all Slack posts are private, which means no one else from your team can access or edit them. But once you share them in a public channel, other users can view them as well.

Allow Team Members To Edit To-Do Lists

You can also create collaborative to-do lists in Slack. You can use them to assign tasks to different users in Slack and allow them to mark them as completed or add new items to the to-do list.

Here’s how you can do it.

First, follow the steps in the previous section to create your to-do list in Slack posts.

Step 1: Share the post with other team members by clicking on the Share button on your screen’s top-right (similar to how you would share a Google document).

You will use the share settings to decide who can view or edit your to-do list.

Step 2: Click on the drop-down menu and choose a channel or a user to share your to-do list.

Step 3: Enable the option to let other users edit your to-do lists. Add an optional comment if you want to give the user or channel additional information.

Step 4: Click Share to complete the process and go back to your Slack chat window.

You can also share your to-do lists by sharing its link with other channels or users. Click Copy Link and share it with any Slack user you want.

If you want to share your to-do list with users outside Slack, you first need to share it in a public Slack channel using the process described above.

Step 5: After sharing the post in a public channel, go back to the sharing settings and enable the option to create a public link for your to-do list that users outside Slack can access.

Step 6: Copy your public link and share it with anyone in or outside Slack.

Congrats! Now your team or anyone with your public link can access and edit your Slack to-do list.

Let’s look at the other ways you can create to-do lists in Slack.

Use Slack Reminders To Create To-Do Lists

Another smart way to keep to-do lists in Slack is by creating reminders. You can create Slack reminders for yourself, different channels, or specific team members.

Whenever you discuss a new task with your team in Slack, simply create a reminder for yourself or the person responsible for its delivery.

Slack reminders effectively work like to-do lists because all the reminders are visible in a single window, and once you complete a task, you can simply turn off its reminder.

Here’s how you can use Slack reminders to keep to-do lists.

Step 1: Open your Slack workspace.

Step 2: To set a reminder for yourself, use the reminder command in your message box. Here’s the command syntax you need to follow.

/remind [yourself/someone/channel] [what/task] [when/time]
Here’s an example command: /remind me to send a follow-up email to Jessy at 3 PM tomorrow.

Using the same command format, you can set reminders for specific users by tagging them.

You can also set reminders for entire Slack channels.

Step 3: To view the complete list of reminders, simply type /remind list in your message box and press enter. The reminder list appears just like a to-do with the responsible users tagged as well.

Step 4: Once a task is completed, you can delete the reminder to remove it from your list by clicking on the blue Delete at the end of the reminder, as seen above.

Slack allows unlimited reminders, so you can easily use this feature to manage long to-do lists as well.

Save Tasks From Your Conversations

Sometimes tasks come during Slack conversations in a channel or with a particular team member. You can create a to-do list directly from your Slack messages instead of creating a separate list in such instances.

All you need to do is save the messages you want to add to your to-do list. Slack maintains a list of all your saved messages turning them into a kind of to-do list for you.

Once you perform a task and want to remove it from your to-do list, simply mark it off your saved messages list.

Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Open your Slack workspace and go to the channel or personal chat where you want to save a message.

Step 2: Hover your mouse pointer over the relevant message.

Step 3: Click the Add to saved items flag icon to add it to your list.

Do this with as many messages as you want, and Slack will add all of them to your saved messages list.

To view your to-do list and all saved messages, click Saved Items in your screen’s left panel.

As you can see, Slack compiles all saved messages in a to-do list style.

Step 4: Once you complete a task and want to remove it from your list, go to the Saved Items tab, hover your mouse pointer over the relevant message, and click the flag-shaped Save icon again.

I like this method because it’s quick and allows you to use your chat messages to create your to-do lists.

Pin Messages To Display Important Tasks

Pinning messages in a channel or one on one chat works just like saved messages and is another easy way to keep to-do lists is Slack.

Instead of copying or writing to-do list items and manually sharing them with everyone, simply pin all the messages in a channel or direct chat conversation.

Everyone in the chat can check the pinned message list to see their tasks and other items on the to-do list.

There’s another benefit to using pinned messages, especially in a crowded channel. When users click on a pinned message, Slack opens the entire message thread, where they can respond to any comments or share updates on the task.

Here’s how you can create Slack to-do lists using pinned messages.

Step 1: Open the Slack channel or chat where you want to pin messages.

Step 2: Hover your mouse pointer over the message you want to pin.

Step 3: Click on the three vertical dots button at the far right of the message. This is the “more actions” menu.

Step 4: Select Pin to this conversation from the dropdown.

To view pinned messages in a chat, click on the Show conversation details question mark button at the top of the chat window and select the Pinned dropdown.

Step 5: To remove a message from the pinned message list, go to the message menu and click the pin message icon again.

Use Third-Party Apps To Create To-Do Lists In Slack

So far, we’ve used different Slack features that weren’t originally created to keep to-do lists. But if you want to create classic to-do lists in Slack, you can use a Slack to-do list app.

I can’t go into the step-by-step details of this process because every app works differently. But let me tell you how to find a to-do list app in Slack.

Step 1: Open your Slack workspace.

Step 2: Click on Add apps in the left panel of your screen.

Step 3: Search for to-do lists in the app search box.

Step 4: Click the app you want to install.

Step 5: Install the app by granting the necessary permissions.

Once you install a to-do list app, it will be visible in the apps list on the left of your screen.

You will then be able to use the third-party app directly from your main Slack window. For more specific guidelines about the to-do list app you install, read its instructions, or try searching Google for a tutorial on the specific one you chose.

Common Problems When Keeping A To-Do List In Slack

As I’ve shown you, there are several ways of keeping to-do lists in Slack. However, they’re not perfect. Here are some of the problems you might face when keeping a to-do list in Slack.

Problem 1: You Can’t Create Posts From Slack’s Mobile App

Creating to-do lists in Slack posts is a convenient way to share and collaborate on your team tasks. However, currently, you can only make posts from Slack’s desktop version. This is a significant limitation since a large percentage of Slack users prefer using its mobile app. You can still view Slack posts from a mobile device but cannot create one yet.

Problem 2: Saved Messages Lack Collaborative Features

Using the Save Message option is a smart way to keep Slack to-do lists. But it lacks collaboration features, meaning you cannot share your to-do lists with your team members or a Slack channel. Again this limits the utility of your to-do lists, especially if you’re working in a high collaboration environment.

Problem 3: Team Members Need To Check For Updates

Unless you install a to-do list app in Slack, you and your team members must manually check for updates in your lists. You won’t get any intonation or alerts when a task is completed or removed from your to-do lists if you’re using Slack posts, saved messages, or pinned messages to maintain task lists. This is a major problem for teams working in high-paced environments and can lead to miscommunication and bottlenecks.

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Bryan Wise
Bryan Wise,
Former VP of IT at GitLab

Incredible companies use Nira