As I write this, I have about 20 tabs open in my web browser – from the last time I used my laptop. All offer some value, I’m sure, but will I actually read all of these? No. The predicament usually starts with a Google search like ‘raw desserts’, then I open up every link on page 1 of my search in a new tab. Or I will shop online, opening each item in a new tab to hold and browse through at my leisure. Then my internet slows down, I get frustrated and hit ‘close all’. Alternatively, I just get overwhelmed by everything I’ve now got to read and shut the laptop lid. This means next time I open my laptop, I have all these tabs starting back at me and by then, I cant event remember what they contained. Is anyone else in the same boat!? It feels surprisingly hectic. Today, I’d like to explore what it means to have too many browser tabs open and whether it is good for us, because to be honest, looking at all those tabs makes me feel a little crowded and overwhelmed!
What is the purpose of browser tabs anyway?
Some of you might be reading this thinking, who on earth uses tabs? What is the purpose? Why wouldn’t you just have one open at a time? Or you might also think, ‘how silly is she, doesn’t she know that will make the computer go so slow?!’ Well, take a look at any website, they have tabs. If you are shopping online, you will often find tabs saying ‘men’s’, ‘women’s’, ‘dresses’, ‘shoes’, ‘blog’ etc. Tabs help to organise items and they are often a great reminder to come back to something, like booking your holiday flights. This is a great way to keep track of anything that you want to look at or read after you are done on your current webpage and is a super helpful way to research topics and look at other relevant content.
But what about when one tab becomes 5, 10, 15, 20 or more? I’ll tell you what happens: I miss that sale on those runners that had 50% off! Shame I kept the browser tab just sitting there amongst the other 40, now the sale is over…
What happens when there are too many browser tabs open?
I did a lot of talking and reading around keeping too many browser tabs open to help me understand how this can affect people. This digital age we are in is still relatively new, so there is not a lot of scientific research around this topic yet. So I turned to my colleagues. People in my office must be sick of me… but what I found was amazing!
Multiple tabs open slows down the computer
Many people complained that their computer ran at a snails pace (and sometimes even crashed) when too many browser tabs were open. This is because all your computer’s memory is being used up by keeping these tabs open.
It’s not just the computer that gets overwhelmed with lots of browser tabs
The other familiar response I received when seeking advice for my tabs situation was summed up by one guy, who said “having too many browser tabs open would be stressful! I never have more than 1!” He was too right!
Everything I’ve read and everyone I’ve spoken to says keeping too many browser tabs open creates feelings of anxiety, stress and disappointment. You feel like this because when you don’t get through those 100 tabs of important nothing, you feel let down, underachieved and maybe a little bit of FOMO creeps in! So what happens is, not only does our computer get overwhelmed, so does our mind.
Does having too many tabs open reflect our lives?
Do you think this reflects our lives today? I do. With the 15 things we have on the go, too busy and blurred to care too much about everything we have going on, do we really have the capacity to scratch any deeper? What if we focused on just one thing? I’ve realised that my browser is a reflection of my life! Between spiritual health, physical health, family, work and friends, I find that my mind is always busy and thinking ahead to the next thing. I’m forever planning and racing ahead with nervous energy. I’ve got so many life tabs open! I’ve seen one author describe this phenomenon as a madhouse of distraction, and I find myself agreeing. I’m going to take a stab in the dark and guess that some of you are the same. Am I right?
I only have to look at a few memes about tabs to know that I definitely am not alone. Why don’t you try having a quick search now, you will realise this is a common problem, especially in this day and age.
But I’m multitasking!
I’m a multi-tasker, and I’m sure you are too. How dare I have less than 6 things on the go at one time! Don’t worry, you can still be effective without all the tabs and whilst focusing on a single thing. Honestly, when you have that many tabs open, and your computer is running that slow, things are going to freeze and be ineffective anyhow, so create some efficiency and close those tabs! And the same can be applied to life. You will give much more quality attention to things if you just take them one at a time.
Some tips for managing your browser tabs:
We can change our browser habits. You can browse the web in a more organised fashion. Perhaps make use of the bookmarks, toolbar, or create folders at top of the browser that are categorised by topic, or even have a read it later folder, though, chances are, you will never look in that folder again. You’ll be more likely to start your search again because, let’s be honest, it is easier to do a new Google search and open a hundred new tabs…
Try a tab detox
Maybe try a tab detox? I love The Minimalists. Maybe we can try the same approach with our tabs and cut down a little? Take 2 minutes right now to answer these questions:
- How many tabs do you have open?
- How many of those do you need?
- What will you close to declutter your browser and clear your mind?
- Is there a limit you could put on how many tabs you keep open?
I am going to commit to only 5 tabs open at a time, what about you?
Managing the tabs inside your brain
Try changing those brain tabs too! Small things we can do are put the phone down when we catch up with a friend or when you kids are talking to you, leave work in the office. It might sound cliché but be in the moment! Get rid of extra anxiety you are carrying with all those extra tabs. Declutter your life, finish one thing at a time before taking on the world.
What do you think, want to give it a go? Let me know in the comments below if you think this might reduce your stress levels too!