If you’re reading this article, it’s because you’re likely participating in the very activity I’m going to tell you to stop doing. See those baby teeth sized tabs above your Internet search bar? You’re a tab hoarder. A marker of well-intended productivity gone awry; trendy digital busyness. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Browser tabs are like meetings. Everyone has too many, and we’re all trying to get rid of them. We’ve got to Marie Kondo this tab situation and close out anything that doesn’t spark joy, or pay rent.
The visual trigger of a familiar favicon distracts us from the task at hand. It’s gotten so bad that we’ve created a National Day of Unplugging. Juice cleanses are out, and digital detoxes are in. We have Tinder optionality with the Internet, which leads to browser binging. All the while we’re inundated with masochistic tips from the most world’s most productive people, which is just work pornography. Meaning that it is largely inauthentic and if you tried any of the hyperbolic activities you see onscreen (Wake up at 4am! Add horse creatine to your coffee!), no one ends up satisfied. Instead of feeling ashamed that your work week isn’t optimized like Tim Ferris’, we simply need a digital intervention, so that our days aren’t ruled by our inbox.
In Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World he asserts that we need to dedicate large chunks of time for the highest value work, or deep work as he calls it. Newport delineates deep versus shallow work by measuring how long it would take to train a smart college graduate to complete the task. But did he consider how smart the indigo children of Gen Z are because honestly not all generations are created equal. Taking his advice and applying it to tab hoarding, I’ve found the key to deep work is to max out on one browser window at a time. Focus on sourcing the content for one task, and then ctrl-alt-del those tabs and move on. Don’t open up a new window, which is the equivalent of piling dirty laundry on clean laundry. You go back to it and you don’t know what’s what, and then at the end of the day you have to burn it all (okay well, dramatic but you get the point).
In aggregate, we spend half of our day looking for that one tab, or waiting for our computer to take a digital percocet after it starts to make the whirring ‘this is the end’ sound because we have too many tabs open. With growth mindset as the buzzword of high performing organizations, how can we truly perform if we’re not focused? The first step, quit our tab hoarding tendencies, so that we can actually find what we’re looking for.