MinimalismProductivity

How I Survived A Month With Only One Browser Tab Open

How To Declutter Your Browser Tabs + Increase Productivity!

One of my goals for June was to keep only one browser tab open at a time. When I announced this in a blog post, everyone thought I was completely insane. I had comments from people saying they had at least 10 tabs open, and that they couldn’t even imagine what one tab would look like. I’ll admit, I wasn’t entirely sure it was possible, but I’m not one to back down from a decluttering challenge!
If you're that person with 80 tabs open right now, it's time to do a little browser decluttering! Here's how I went a whole month with only one tab open (and how you totally can too!)I know you’re probably thinking, ‘Catherine, why the heck would you want to torture yourself like that?

Essentially, it’s because I kept getting distracted. When I have a lot of tabs open, I feel like I have to click, read, and close all of them before I can actually get to work. Plus, I have a terrible habit of opening a new tab and going to Facebook while another page is loading (I need instant results, Google), and then I forget what I was trying to do in the first place.

I’m sure you’ve experienced a time when you had so many browser tabs open that your computer just gave up on life and crashed. It’s a sign that you’re tying to get too much information at once. And if your computer can’t handle it, you better believe your brain can’t either.

So, to let my brain take a break, I thought I’d give this one-tab challenge a shot and see if it made me more productive.

Did I succeed for the whole month? Mostly. I’m not superhuman, so there were many occasions where I went, ‘Oh crap, I have 8 tabs open right now.’ But I just had to be more conscious of what I was doing and figure out ways to close the tabs without losing information.

Today, I’m sharing how I survived the one-tab challenge and how YOU can declutter your browser too!

The Tools That Helped
1. Pocket

Pocket is my absolute favorite tool to keep track of anything I want to save for later. All you have to do is install the browser app then click the ‘Pocket’ button when you find an article or post you want to read later. If I realized that I had more than one tab open, I instantly hit the Pocket button and closed the tab.

How to use Pocket to declutter your digital life!

You might be thinking, ‘What if I forget to go back and read the articles later?’

Yeah, you probably will…but that’s not actually a bad thing. You see, if you completely forgot about it, it probably wasn’t that important to begin with; however, if you’re an information junkie, you can dedicate about 20 minutes of your day just to go through your saved articles. The other nice thing about Pocket is that you can read articles in their simplest form, so you’re not tempted to click on other links in the sidebar (because there isn’t one) and open any new tabs.

P.S. All of my blog posts have a ‘Pocket’ button at the bottom in case you want to save them for later ;)

2. YouTube’s Watch Later Feature

If you’re the kind of person who LOVES to watch videos (aka me), you probably get sucked into a million at once and keep opening them in new tabs. Luckily, youtube has an awesome Watch Later feature which means you don’t have to bookmark anything in your browser.

Use YouTube's Watch Later feature if you keep getting distracted by videos!

If you’ve already started watching the video, all you have to do is click the ‘Add To’ button, then check the ‘Watch Later’ playlist which youtube automatically creates for you. If you see a video in the sidebar that sounds appealing, click the little clock in the bottom right corner.

When you have time to watch the videos, just go to the ‘Watch Later’ tab in the left sidebar of youtube. Bam!

3. ‘View Later’ Bookmark

If the tab I had open was a physical website rather than a single article, I would save it to a bookmark in my browser called ‘View Later’. Not a very creative bookmark name, but it helped to get rid of the clutter.

4. A Single Post-It Note

The only way I could prevent myself from mindlessly wandering onto Pinterest was to have a post-it right by my computer that said:

ONE TAB

That way, I was constantly reminded of my goal, and I slowly started to be more conscious of when I was clicking the New Tab button.

Did my productivity increase?

Yes, yes, yes. Instead of flicking through tabs at the speed of light, causing my brain to multitask on 800 things at once, I started to slow down and pay more attention to what I was actually trying to accomplish. Three other things happened:

More Focus. It forced me to stop having videos playing in the background while I was working (a bad habit of mine). Even though we tell ourselves these things aren’t distracting us, they really are.

More Progress. I was able to get things like blog posts written quicker because I was focused on the task at hand, rather than writing a sentence then hopping over to another website and getting sucked into a distraction-wormhole.

Less Noise. I got a lot better at discerning within 10 seconds what was going to be quality content and what wouldn’t be worth reading. Instead of instantly trying to read every article I came across, I took a moment to ask myself if seemed to be worth my time. If it was, I added it to Pocket! If not, I closed that sucker.

Related Post: Take the 7-Day Media Detox Challenge!

Do I Still Follow The One-Tab Rule?

Do I think this is something you could realistically do for the rest of your computer-using life?

I will be honest and say that one tab is really hard.

Sometimes you simply need two tabs open at once to get things done. For example, if I try to preview this blog post as a draft right now, WordPress opens it up into a new tab. I wouldn’t really want to post this without previewing it because WHO KNOWS what that might turn out like.

In all truth, two tabs is a more realistic goal. Since we use the internet for practically everything, it only makes sense that we’d need to have more than one tab open to get anything done. One tab is doable, two is realistic.

These days, I’m not being overly conscious of the amount of tabs I open, but my impulse to open all the tabs has definitely died down. I found that since doing this challenge, I open fewer tabs without even thinking about it, and my computer responds a lot quicker (hallelujah!).

In conclusion, the one-tab rule is possible, but two is a better compromise. If you’re looking to increase your productivity and feel a little more organized in your day-to-day life, I highly recommend trying to declutter your browser!

Honesty time! How many tabs do you have open right now?

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Catherine Beard
Hi, I'm Catherine! I'm the mindset coach and writer behind The Blissful Mind. Whether you're trying to reduce stress, slow down, or feel more content, I’m here to help make life a little calmer.

37 Comments

  1. What a fantastic challenge! I can totally see how reducing the number of tabs you have open can contribute to productivity. I use YouTube for music sometimes, so perhaps I’ll do a three tab challenge lol

    1. Ahh yeah, that’s a good point! I mainly use Spotify, but sometimes I have to resort to YouTube because I can’t find the song I want. They need like a separate YouTube app just for music haha

  2. Wow Catherine kudos to you! I always have way too many tabs open and I get so distracted when I write my blog posts.. I should definitely try this, or at least try this when writing blog posts. Thank you for the wonderful tips and great idea! I’ll take all the tips I can get, I’m such a scatterbrain hehe. xxxxx

    http://www.romantiquely.com

    1. I know, it’s SO easy to get distracted while writing (unless you’re totally absorbed with your idea – which doesn’t happen as often as I’d like haha). I’d love to hear if the one tab thing does end up working for you while you’re writing! xx

  3. Oof convicted right here. I do not follow this rule– especially when I’m doing blogging stuff. However, I’ve been better about closing my email and social media tabs when I’m trying to get work done, and it’s been amazing for productivity.

    1. Trying to do it while I was blogging was definitely the hardest part, especially if you’re trying to research something or find an image to use haha. I think closing social media tabs is probably THE most important part though, so good job you!

  4. I should really work on just having one tab open! I usually have 2 windows open with like 12 tabs opened in each one (that’s not even including the 30 windows I have open on my phone)! I’m going to work on limiting the amount of tabs I have open so I can stay focused on one “internet thing” at a time and not have distracting internet tabs open. Pocket seems really cool! I’ll have to give it a try! Thanks for such a great post :)

    Gwynn | The Traveling Curl

  5. Interesting to hear how this went! I am a big fan of only having four to five tabs open at a time, while my husband consistently has 10+. It drives me batty!! But I think I agree, ONE would be almost impossible. Thanks for taking one for the team and trying it out! ha! =)

    1. Omg I know, my boyfriend constantly has about 20 open and his computer is always so slow because of it! Haha glad I could take the challenge so no one else has to ;)

  6. LOVE that you managed to do this! I’m definitely challenging myself for the next two weeks to only have two tabs open (I think I need to be a bit easy on myself…)
    Truth time, though: I thought I was doing really well, I thought I only had 3 tabs open! and then I realized that I had two other chrome windows open with about 11 tabs each… oops!

    Rebecca Lindenbach // lifeasadare.com

  7. Pocket sounds like an AMAZING app. I tried the one-tab challenge too but just found it limiting. I open all the blogs I follow in one tab and can just read through them (I’m not a fan of the bloglovin’ reader). Same thing with email newsletter links. But I do agree that decluttering your internet life is important :)
    xx, Pia

    http://gymbagsandjetlags.com

    1. I actually turned off the bloglovin reader because it was so annoying (and apparently it skews your blog analytics as well?), but I get where you’re coming from! I suppose there’s nothing really wrong with opening up blog or newsletter links at once if you’re going to read them right away, it’s just when you never ever close them that it becomes a problem haha.

  8. I love the title of this post haha and I’m glad you managed to accomplish your goal, Catherine -well done! I remember reading this on your goals post and I said to myself I would try to do the same and limit down the amount of tabs open – I even installed the Pocket app – but I failed miserably haha. I just counted the open tabs and it’s quite embarrassing to share, let me just say it’s 25+, I know, it’s bad! So I really need to challenge my self, declutter my browser right know and limit it to 5 tabs this month. Thanks for sharing these tips!! :) x

    1. I read an article and this guy said at that exact moment, he had 1000+ tabs open! Like what?? So don’t feel bad about 25 haha. 5 is a great goal, good luck!!

  9. This is an amazing post!! I remember you sharing this goal and I am so glad that you have shared the results with us! I can definitely relate with all of this and getting distracted when trying to be productive. I think two tabs is very realistic and I try to not have a lot open while at work. It can get really overwhelming! I’ll be honest and say I have 5 tabs open right now, as I read blogs—but very often it is a lot more than that!

  10. Wow thanks.. . I sure use all the same excuses… Right now: (i’m ashamed to admit) I have 48 tabs – spread out in three diffrent browserwindows, and my oulook is also right there… Oh my.. I need a change! Thanks for your post! It’s so true..I think I’m going to start with 2 tabs, it sounds do-able. Or maybe 3 (a third for just in case), in my work I do a lot of researches and need sometimes to compare information, but the third is really for ICE!

  11. I thought I was the only one with this problem!! My daughter is always shaking her head at me! I soooo need to try these tips

  12. I’ve been guilty of not only having more tabs open at one time than I’m going to admit to, but it’s been so bad that I’ve had multiple browser windows open to hold all of the tabs I have open… I’m wondering if I should start small and work on the one browser window challenge first and work my way to the one (maybe two – I always have my email and facebook open). I’m wondering if I should give up multiple browser windows for Lent this year…

  13. I was the type of woman to open a lot of tabs some years ago and then i noticed that my brain was like “i have to read this, and this,, and this and also this, quick, quick!”
    So i stopped progressively and today, the max of tabs is 4. Most of the time, there is 2 tabs! =D And i’m a lot more zen like this than a few years ago!

  14. Not just do I have many tabs open, I have them divided into three browsers! So I have 28 tabs in one, but it is a special occasion, I’m working through career ads, and the other two are for school and free time. If I open Netflix it gets a special browser as well. I do have so many opened tabs all the time, so I like the idea of this challenge. But before I do I think I need to empty my pocket, it has more stuff then I’ll ever read and I should really use it in a healthier way. A hoarder looking forward to a decluttered life! Thank you 😊

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