Blind Multi-Tabbing is Killing Your Productivity. Do These 5 Steps Instead.
I feel really overwhelmed.
Sometimes we feel really overwhelmed with a lot of tasks that we are working on.
In this era, the task or project is reformed from the physical task form to the digital one. This requires us to access the documents in the online form, it can be in the form of Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, Data Dashboard, or any other types. These documents somehow linked to each other but in different tasks. We may extract our data from our dashboard, process it in Google Sheets, and put these processed data into Slides. That’s just an example, but nowadays, for one project you need to open multiple documents from different sources. And one of the instant ways to open these documents is by adding the new tab in your browser and access the document. This way is a lot quicker compared to open a new window browser because the button is really easy to access. Let’s say for one project you need to open 5 different documents for a simple project and for complex projects it can be more than 10 documents. That means you need to open at least 5 tabs for one project. How about if you handle more than 1 project and all of them are complex projects? You will need to open way more tabs than maybe we can handle.
I used to open a lot of tabs to do my works before and there is something that really makes me surprise. I decided to close my browsers and continue my work for the next day. When I tried to restore my previous session from my browser history, it said 50 tabs. 50 tabs? That’s really a lot, you can’t even see the name of the sites or documents again in the browser. Those tabs consist of multiple projects that I handled in the past.
While it gains me the easy access to the links that I need, on that point, I found myself that I really spend a lot of time, unproductive, to finish 1 task (didn’t count the time for mobile phone checking or chat with the friends). It may be because of these reasons:
- It Becomes Harder to Access
At the point you open the way a lot of tabs, you can’t see the name of the links or documents on your browser. You struggle to find the files that you already opened before. This causes us to spend more time finding the documents on our tabs rather than working on the task itself. While some people will choose to re-open the documents in the new tab again, it causes us to have more tabs in the browser.
2. Focus Diminish
When you have multiple tabs that represent multiple projects that you’re working on, it potentially causes you’ll lose your focus at some point. When you accidentally open the tab that not related to your project that you’re currently working on let’s say project A, your focus will shift to other projects, let’s say project B. You’ll think the things that on your to-do-list about project B that you haven’t do. Instead of finishing project A, you change your gear to do some tasks that related on project B. And while you accidentally open the tab that related to other projects, let’s say project C because you’re searching for project B docs (like I mentioned in point no.1 ), your thoughts will fly away to project C. It will cause a loop of focus diminishing. When you decided to back to work on project A, you need time to regain your focus and remember the last things that you did on project A. And again, it spends away more time to finish one project because our focus is moving to each project.
3. It Seems Like a Long of Laundry-list of Activities and Prioritization Issue
For me personally, a lot of tabs force me to think like there are never-ending tasks that I need to work on. While it becomes too many, we will spend more time about what is the things that we need to work on now. It comes to the prioritization issue. It gives us such of illusion effect that everything that already on the tabs are somehow equally mattered. They have the same importance and all of them are going to our P0 list. On a rare occasion, we are stuck at the point we are too confused about which task that we need to work first.
I know this is the pain point that I encountered when I need to work on multiple complex projects. I ended up just finish a little portion of the project task at the end of the day. That’s why I avoid to have a lot of tabs and start to do these steps instead:
- List the Projects and Links That You Will Use on a Frequent Basis
Before you work, you may list all of the projects including the tasks for each project that you want to do on a particular day. Each task requires you to open the documents but every document has a distinctive level of importance. The most important document is the document that you need to open on a more frequent basis. That document is like the document that ‘must-available’ on your browser tabs. So you know what is the link that needs to stay on your browser tab.
2. Different Browser Window for a Different Project
To maintain your focus on a specific project, I decide to have a dedicated browser tab to one project. While it is easier to move to other tabs, we have a low tendency to shift to another browser window. This may cause us to stay longer and focus to work on one project until we finish all of the activities on it.
3. Restrict Your Maximum Tabs Allowed in One Browser Window
It comes to prioritization matter. Warren Buffet has a 5/25 Strategy when it comes to prioritization. This strategy is done by listing 25 things that become your goal and eliminate the 20 one so you can focus on your top 5 goals.
When it comes to tabbing, I try to implement this principle as well, but not restrict my tab as little as 5. I allow myself to open around 5 and max. 10 tabs in one window. When I already finish and already got all of the information that I need from a certain document or link, I directly close that tabs so I can focus on my next task and minimize the number of tabs. Also, when you find that you open too many tabs, that you need to evaluate what is the document that has less priority with your current task.
This restriction allows us to optimize the benefit of multi-tabbing as well. While the number of tabs is around 5–10, you can still see the name of files or sites, so you get an additional value of easy access. You will not spend a lot of time to search the documents that you already open and focus to work on your specific task.
- Time Blocking
Time blocking maybe is the common method of time management. I implement this to segment my focus into the timeline of the day. I dedicated specific time to work on project A. While I’m still on that time blocking, I’ll try not to work on or even think about project B or project C. This continue to the next step, which is
- Commit to One Browser Window Based On Your Time Blocking
After you commit to working on a specific project only on the committed time period, then you can implement it to your browser window usage. Let’s say, you commit to working on project A from 2:00–3:00 PM, then your focus is only on the window that related to project A. As possible, you will prohibit yourself to open the other windows on that 1 hour period. That causes us to maintain our focus on project A only and not shift our focus frequently. If somehow, on your mind suddenly think about your other projects, just note it down first on your notebook then re-visit that note again after you complete all activity of your current working task project on that particular hour.
I know these steps also have weaknesses when it comes to implementation. Such as your boss ask you to look at the other project first or other tasks. It requires us to shift our focus while it’s quite across the steps that I mentioned. The complexity of projects also different that maybe force you to have a lot of documents that must be available on your tab. But these steps really allow me to improve my productivity as well as prioritization skills. Hopefully, these steps can work on you and may improve your productivity as well.