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The Litverse Saturday Stat: Close Your Tabs
More browsing, more problems
The modern curse of productivity is the internet. I’m reminded of this every time I remember that Kurt Vonnegut, a proud luddite, never moved on from a typewriter. He knew that creation often sparked with isolation, because isolation begets the clarity and focus that become inspiration.
We live in the age of death by notification. To streamline efficiency, employees now use 35+ different systems and switch through different apps 1,000+ a day. Progress becomes as much about navigation as productivity. Focus must be guarded at all costs just to do a job, but it isn’t easy - the average worker is productive for two hours and fifty-three minutes each work day.
How do we do it all? Or at least try to do it all? Mostly, we keep lots of browser tabs open. Look at your current tabs. How many do you have open? If the answer is more than eight, you’re stressed.
As research from Carnegie Mellon University found (with a dubious sample size of 108), every open tab is an unfinished task or intention. People feel pressure to close tabs but also keep them open with that intention:
With a manageable number of tabs, which varies by person, participants… felt "in-control and productive." But when the number exceeded a participant's tipping point, they felt emotions like shame and stress, along with the compulsion to close tabs they'd worked hard to collect. (For the 103 participants, eight open tabs was the median number that triggered stress.)
The urge to keep so many tabs sizzling seems to be linked to FOMO or paranoia:
The researchers found that many people struggled to close tabs because they worried about not being privy to valuable information or opportunities.
It takes 23 minutes to find our focus again after a distraction. If we’re switching systems more than 1,000+ times a a day, we may never find it. Want to start your weekend right? Close all your tabs and start with a blank slate.
Have a great weekend, and try to keep the tabs to a minimum.