Here’s how Slack founder Cal Henderson uses Slack to manage his time

He listens to audiobooks on triple speed while walking to work, and brackets his day with carefully guarded family time.

Here’s how Slack founder Cal Henderson uses Slack to manage his time
[Photo: Damien Maloney]

I walk to work almost every day. I listen to audiobooks when I walk, at three-times speed, so a book every couple of days. Bad Blood [by John Carreyrou] is so good! It’s fun and terrifying and definitely makes you feel better about running a company that isn’t Theranos.


I’m very calendar-driven. I get in, and my day is already laid out—and my week, to some extent. So I try to take a step back and ask myself: “What are the things that are the most strategically important, and am I allocating my time to them correctly?” Things like team communications, or hiring, or representing the company externally . . . Am I spending the right percentage of my time on them? It’s easy to get lost in the weeds.

I’ve never exchanged an email with somebody else who works at Slack. I check my email maybe once a day. It’s quite peripheral to how I work . . . A lot of my productivity around using Slack is knowing to prioritize what information I need to see. That means [heavily] muting channels or not joining channels, and “starring” the ones that are really important to me.

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With the rise of mobile in the workplace, it’s easy to be working all the time. I think it can be enabled by a tool like Slack. But you don’t have to use it in that way. I don’t look at Slack when I’m doing family stuff . . . I just had my second kid. [Having kids] changed not just my routine—which of course it does—but also my attitude toward, and relationship with, time management. Spending time with my family in the morning and at the end of the day brackets my work in a very strict way. I have to be a lot more intentional about how I spend my time.

Time he gets up

Around 7 a.m.

First thing he does in the morning

“I read news headlines on my phone.”


Productivity philosophy

“When you build a company, you’re making three things: The product or service that you’re providing, the business, and the culture. Building a culture that you want to be part of is huge for productivity.”

Lunch routine

“I’m kind of a garbage human in how I eat, but I try to make lunch my healthier meal of the day and leave the office to have lunch whenever possible.”

What he does with 15 minutes of free time

“Find somebody in the organization I haven’t spoken to in a while and spend 15 minutes picking their brain about what’s on their mind. As our organization grows, I’m never going to have perfect information about what’s happening. People all over the organization, and in different roles, always have good insights into what we could be doing better.”

What he lets slide without feeling guilty

“Probably my personal email inbox. I have sent some replies to people like a decade later.”

Last thing he does at night

“I usually listen to some audiobooks in the half hour before I go to sleep.”

Time he goes to bed

Around 10:30 or 11 p.m.