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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Productivity

Why You Should Close All of Your Tabs (Except This One)

Sometimes, I think I’m in a war against tabs. I almost always have at least 10 tabs open in my Chrome window, and I don’t want to imagine the amount of time I’ve lost clicking around them trying to find the one I’m looking for. I occasionally find myself clicking around them with no purpose at all, lost in the sea of my web browsing.

I’m sure I’m not the only one with this problem.

And while you can argue that tabs save you time (I don’t have to re-open my Gmail every time I need to check something!) or that they’re a way to keep you from getting distracted (I’m just saving that article for later!), I think, deep down, we all know the truth: Tabs really feed our propensity to multitask—and drain our ability to focus on our work.

In a recent video from The Atlantic, senior health editor Dr. James Hamblin suggests an elegant solution: tabless Thursdays. It’s exactly what it sounds like: On Thursdays (or whatever day of the week you choose), keep only one tab open at a time in your web browser.

I know—it’s so simple in theory, but if you’re a tab addict like me, it’s hard to do. So, no matter what the reason you keep those tabs open is, I’ve got some solutions below to help you successfully try a tabless day for yourself.

“I Need to Get Back to It Regularly!”

For things like your email, calendar, or anything else you use regularly during the day, it can seem inconvenient to close those tabs, only to have to type their web addresses in again later. Instead, try creating bookmarks for each one in your bookmarks bar and setting them up so that you stay logged in. Then you can close them—but they’re just a click away when you need them.

“I Want to Save It for Later!”

Articles, interesting websites, things you see that you want to buy—these are all things you don’t want to distract you during your work day, but you want to save to check out later. Unfortunately, if you leave their tabs open, they’re still probably distracting you. So, find other ways to save them for later! Download Pocket for articles. Use Pinterest or a service like Amazon universal wishlist for things you are thinking of buying. You could even just keep a Word doc open with a list of links to check out after the day is done.

“There are Just Too Many Tabs—I Don’t Know Where to Start!”

If you use Chrome, download the “One Tab” app. This will compress all of your open tabs into a list of links in—you got it—one tab. Minimize that window and open a new one to use for your tabless day. You can come back to your list of old tabs later and deal with them then. Or, you could just close them all and start fresh. Chances are, if they’ve piled up that much, they’re not very important anyway.

Check out the video below if you want to learn more about why tabs are productivity killers, and try keeping the tabs at bay one day this week. Who knows—you might like the focus so much you keep the habit up!

Photo of computer tabs courtesy of Shutterstock.