- Individual communication
- Communicate clearly
- Tag (only) the relevant people
- Get on a call to save time
- Batch process
- Use AI for unread messages
- Process pending actions
- Mute distracting conversations
- Organization-wide communication
- Plainly name channels and threads
- Edit channels and threads
- Move off-topic threads
- Archive finished discussions
- Set default participants
- Create templates for threads
- Encourage ownership
At the start of the day, most of us have the best intentions of focusing on our highest priority tasks. But we often get stuck in our communication apps. Knowledge workers spend 28% of the workday reading and answering emails — not to mention the time spent looking for information from colleagues and jumping into meetings and team chats.
What if you could communicate when necessary and still have time to get work done? That’s Twist. But even in a focused app, things get busy. That’s why it’s important to balance staying connected with your team with protecting your deep work. Here’s how.
At many organizations, being responsive is more important than focusing on your work. That can lead to a culture of over-messaging. Here’s how you as an individual can help create a culture that prioritizes deep work and calm communication.
Making a few tweaks to communicate more clearly, more directly, and more considerately leads to better teamwork. It also leads to less back-and-forth, which results in less time spent messaging and more time collaborating!
To begin, include all of the background information your team needs upfront. Adding in documents, links, and screenshots that you anticipate your team may require to respond to your question or carry out an action in your message makes it far faster for everyone. And if you forget to include something, you can always easily edit your message.
Adding context to your message so your team members don’t have to ask a bunch of follow-up questions can also speed up communication. Don’t worry, you don’t need to spend an hour of your time re-hashing a conversation. You can simply reference it by linking to the channel or thread with all-new quick actions.
Once your teammates respond, it’s a great idea to only post if you have something new or relevant to add to a thread. Rather than responding “Great!” if your team member shares some news, for instance, you can react to a message by adding an emoji to it — a 👍 for “I’ve read this,” ✅ if you completed a task in the message, or 🚀 for congratulations on a launch.
Finally, while everyone appreciates a funny GIF now and then, regularly posting off-topic messages — say a photo of your pet on a thread about front-end development — can make it hard for teammates to keep up with messages, find relevant information, and know what a thread is even for! It’s better to start a new thread, instead.
Tag (only) the relevant people
Just as group texts or reply-all emails can get overwhelming quickly, so too can chaotically tagged Twist threads. The good news is being considerate with tagging and notifications is contagious — when you model it, others often take your lead!
If you’re in a channel with a bunch of team members, be considerate and notify only the relevant people, not everyone in the channel or thread. When done this way, your messages will appear only in the notified person or group members’s Inbox, while keeping the inboxes of those who you didn’t notify clutter free.
Still waiting for a response? We’re all pretty busy, so when you need a reply from someone specific, mention them directly in your comment for even greater visibility.
Psst. Did you know you can also pull up the mention function with the new and improved quick actions feature? Type / then select Mention someone, and pick the right teammate.
Get on a call when it will save time
We’re all about defaulting to asynchronous meetings rather than having lots of real-time touch-bases, but sometimes you just need to get into a synchronous meeting and talk something out. Now, you can schedule a meeting without leaving Twist with one of the new integrations on desktop: Google Calendar, Calendly, Zoom, Skype, or Jitsi.
Say you’ve been going back-and-forth on Twist with colleagues about a creative question for the past week. You realize it will be more efficient to just talk out the concept over video. You can add the meeting to everyone’s schedule through Twist. Just visit the Twist integrations directory to integrate your scheduling app of choice, and use / to add it to your message.
Create a meeting through your scheduling app of choice directly in Twist.
You can even share the meeting information in Twist which allows those on the thread to join the call directly — all without leaving Twist.
Batch process your communication
Keeping your team communication app open all day is an easy recipe for interrupting yourself when you’re itching for a distraction. But context switching is a big drag on time and mental energy, as an innocent diversion becomes a rabbit hole of checking all of the messages you missed. Suddenly you’re responding to something that’s neither urgent nor important (maybe those pet photos!) rather than doing the work you’d hoped to finish that morning.
To avoid this, batch your communication so you’re checking and responding to messages at certain times — say two or three times a day. By processing your messages in one go, say once at 10 am and once at 4 pm, rather than checking Twist every 20 minutes, you’ll save time and be in the right frame of mind to read and respond.
Use AI to prioritize your unread messages
On days when things get hectic at work, you’re just not going to be able to get to every message. Check in on your highest priority messages, using the beta For you feature in your Inbox. The feature uses AI to identify your most important unreads and puts them on the top of your message pile.
How does it know? The feature uses an algorithm that computes data associated with the importance of a message. “We’ve found that threads are more important if they’ve recently been very active, or more important when just a small handful of people are part of it,” says Dominic Monn, Twist machine learning engineer. “Based on all those combinations … we can then compute that ‘importance score.’”
But don’t worry, your coworkers won’t know which messages get ranked most important.
Create a process for pending actions
At the beginning of a new week, it can be overwhelming to turn Inbox threads into actionable tasks. Ensure you don’t lose track of action items that come from messages by adding the thread or message in Twist as a task in Todoist.
Let’s say your coworker requests specific information in a design brief for your next product campaign — so you add the Twist thread as a task in Todoist. When you’re working on the brief, clicking on the linked task in Todoist will take you to that thread straight away. Not only do you ensure these items won’t slip your mind, but you also don’t have to go back and spend a ton of time searching the thread either.
You can also make sure you go back to a thread later by marking a thread as unread by clicking the open circle icon next to the star. Want to mark it as read again? Simply click that dot to uncheck it. It’s a great feature to use when you’re reviewing all of your inbox messages first thing in the morning.
Just respond to anything that takes less than two minutes, and mark as unread the messages that will require a longer response, so you can go back after you’ve completed your higher priority tasks.
And, if you have a thread you want to keep a regular eye on, you can star it. Maybe you have a thread that is updated consistently but on no particular schedule, or a thread that you’re not notified about, but that often has information you find valuable. Starring it means you can easily find it when scrolling through a channel, or find them all in the Starred section of Twist.
Take a break from distracting conversations
Turn down the noise in your Twist by muting threads that aren’t relevant to you. It’s ideal if you’re in a thread that teammates post updates in regularly, but you aren’t heavily involved in the project, or if you prefer to read that thread periodically in one sitting rather than whenever a new update comes in.
You can mute the thread for a designated amount of time or indefinitely — depending on your needs. However long you choose, the thread won’t show in your Inbox when someone posts or mentions you in that thread.
For additional silence, you can snooze all Twist push notifications.
This is a great option for periods you want to time block so you’re focusing on a specific type of task, like writing or programming. You can even schedule a notification-free deep work time each day, such as mornings from 10 am to 12 pm, so you never need to worry about getting nudged during those periods.
Plus, you can come back to fewer messages when you return from vacation or parental or sick leave. Just make sure you set your Time Off options. You won’t receive any notifications while you’re away, and your co-workers will see the dates when you’re away.
Making communication calm and organized isn’t something you can do alone. Twist is designed to enable better collaboration by making organizational processes transparent to all members of a team.
Now in Twist, all team members (excluding guests for privacy) have access to edit channels and threads and loop in people to help make decisions. Here’s how to take advantage of these features to improve communication for your team.
Plainly name channels and threads
Clear communication requires an organized structure. Create a consistent approach for how you name channels. You can base them on:
- projects, like Product Launch or OS Update
- departments, like Customer Service or Marketing
- or even topics of interest, like Book Recommendations or Continuing Education
Well named channels make it easy for anyone in the organization to find what they’re looking for.
Everyone on your team should also work together to comprehensibly name threads. First, avoid duplicates by searching to see if a thread exists before creating it. Then give threads clear and specific names that include keywords so they’re easily searchable later.
You may even want to put the keyword of a thread as the first or second word in the title, so teammates can see it when they’re looking at Twist on mobile devices. Use time indicators like Q1, Q2, or Q3, if you have threads tied to time windows. For example, a thread for a third-quarter Instagram campaign could be called Q3 Instagram Campaign.
Edit channels and threads
Sometimes the scope of a channel has gotten so wide or muddled that it calls for a change. Or a thread’s title doesn’t capture what it’s about. Fortunately, threads and channels aren’t etched in stone.
In keeping with Twist’s spirit of transparency and open and non-hierarchical access, now any team member, not just the creator or administrator of a channel or thread, can rename or otherwise edit it. That includes the ability to edit the channel name, color, icon, description, and default groups and participants (more on that below), or edit the name of a thread.
Move off-topic threads to the correct channel
Twist is designed to be flexible and iterative, which means if a thread no longer makes sense in the channel where it lives, you can move the thread into another channel. Say a project that was originally the responsibility of your organization’s PR channel now will be led by the marketing team. Just move the thread from the #PR to #Marketing channel. Just as with renaming a thread, you no longer have to be an admin to do this!
Close and archive finished discussions and projects
Decluttering your workspace is key to helping you clear your head and prioritize. Make it a regular habit of closing and archiving threads for projects or discussions that your team has finished. For example, at Doist our PR team closes threads for media opportunities once the story has been published. You can do this for any project — from a product launch to a social media campaign to a development sprint.
Set default participants
Cut down on the messages people have to process by setting a team wide agreement to be mindful of who to include in conversations. One way to make this easy is to set a channel’s default participants. When you set default participants, you’re able to make sure that the right people get tagged in every new thread in the channel while reducing the noise for the rest of your team. Meaning far less accidental tagging of everyone in channel.
Create templates for recurring threads
Do you have a type of thread that you need to create on a regular basis, such as a weekly team check-in? You can create a template for a recurring thread using the Team Check-ins integration. Add the integration via your Twist profile, and then fill in the specifics for your thread.
For example, if you want to post a weekly update thread for your team, just create a thread called Weekly update and add text for the post (like Hi team, could you please share major updates for this week as well as what you’ll be working on next week for our weekly update? Thank you!). You can set the thread to post at a particular hour each time, so you don’t have to remember to post it yourself over and over again.
Encourage team members to take ownership
Transparency is part of Twist’s M.O., which is why the app is designed so that managers and team members alike can create, edit, and organize channels and threads without the need to seek permission. Encourage everyone on your team to take ownership over organizational processes.
So if a teammate doesn’t know the answer to a question, create a culture where looping colleagues into a thread is welcome. Or if a coworker feels like a channel could be better organized, empower them to edit channel or thread titles, or move threads out of the channel entirely. Just remember, building Twist group norms around responsibility, trust, and accountability takes time — so move slowly and intentionally.
Every communication tool requires users to create a thoughtful culture to be used effectively. That’s why we’ve designed Twist to be flexible, so it adapts with your team while keeping the noise to a minimum, and transparent, so team members feel they have access to all of the information they need to do their best work. Use Twist plus a healthy company communication culture, to make productive, focused, and rewarding work the default, not the exception.