Post Updated on December 27, 2019
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!
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
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.
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.
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!