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Summary:

Do feel sometimes like your brain is running amok — and that is also reflected in your web browsing habits, with huge numbers of tabs open at once? Do you mire yourself in many open loops of interesting things to check out?

Do feel sometimes like your brain is running amok — and that is also reflected in your web browsing habits, with huge numbers of tabs open at once? Do you mire yourself in many open loops of interesting things to check out? How many times have you declared “tab bankruptcy” and quit your browser, thinking “Well, if it’s really important, I’ll find it again sooner or later”?

I didn’t think  that I had a problem with excessive use of tabs, until I closed a Firefox window as I was browsing one day and was met with the question: “You are about to close 83 tabs. Are you sure you want to continue?” My jaw dropped. I took a screenshot, and started thinking about ways to tame my habit.

A 3-Step Technique for Browsing More Effectively

My technique for curing “tab-o-rrhea” consists of three steps. My instructions are for Firefox, but should also work in other browsers, like Chrome.

1. Chunk your web browsing

What different tasks do you usually do together? Take a piece of paper and create groups for the tabs you normally have open. A good way to start is to write down what tabs you have open in your browser right now, and then group them.

Here’s an example set of groups:

Finances:

  • Mint.com
  • Your bank
  • Any investment sites

Checking web site stats:

  • Statistics on your main site
  • Statistics on sub-sites

Updating your web site:

  • Godaddy
  • Blogger.com
  • dictionary.com

Social media:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Meetup.com
  • Bit.ly (Link shortener)

Writing your newsletter:

  • AWeber
  • dictionary.com
  • Bit.ly (Link shortener)

Planning your week/weekend:

  • Weather.com
  • Mr. Movies.com
  • Meetup.com

2. Create the groups

  1. For each group, open up a fresh Firefox browser window and open a tab for each site.
  2. Then go Bookmarks > Bookmark All Tabs
  3. Save in Bookmarks Toolbar or (even better) within a folder in Bookmarks Toolbar, so that way you can access each group at the touch of a mouse.

3. Use the groups you have created

Helpful Tips to Maximize Your Success

  • I advise you  to keep no more than four windows open at any one time. If you need to switch tasks groups, you can close a whole group, knowing you can get it back up at the click of a mouse.
  • If you have to scroll horizontally to see your tabs, you have too many!
  • It may seem counter-intuitive, but I find it helpful to keep one window open to use for “random” tabs. Restrain yourself from opening tabs in your reserved windows.

Advanced Jedi Tab Practices

Ok, so you may be thinking, “That’s great – but I want to take this to the next level.” I will oblige you, grasshopper.

Firstly, set a schedule for when you’d like to use these groups of tabs. For example, you could decide to check web site stats once a week, say Friday morning, and use the Planning your week/weekend” group on Friday afternoon and Monday morning, for a half-an hour. This will ratchet up your success considerably.

Secondly, schedule a time two weeks from now to review how your tabs are working for you. For each group, ask yourself:

  • Do I actually use this group? If not, how can I make it more accessible?
  • Are there any tabs that I would like to add to this group?
  • Are there any tabs that I have not been using, and should delete?
  • Are there any groups that are not represented?

In all, implementing the above will not only help you to browse more efficiently, it will help you save time on the tasks you are already doing, and help you to organize your thoughts.

Jeremy Bennett is an Intuitive Consultant and Trainer who helps innovators in the technology industry who are feeling unfulfilled where the are, to understand what’s keeping them stuck, navigate big transitions, and make choices that align with who they are, so the can pursue their unique purpose with joy, in service to the planet. To find out how he can help you visit: Pursue your Purpose Without Fail!

  1. This is great advice—thanks! I always limit myself to as many tabs as fit on-screen without scrolling, but I like some of your other tips. I have a lot of bookmarks that I don’t use much, and I think I’ll use your system to re-organize them. I certainly have a lot of groups I open together (certain dictionaries and other terminology reference tools, communication/social media tools, professional forums, etc.). I also love the idea of scheduling tasks using these groups! Perfect!

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  2. I guess I’m an underachiever. I’ve never had more than 10 tabs open at a time. I do like your basic idea though, even for me.

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  3. If you want to schedule tasks, and you are lucky enough to run OS X, you could try out Griffin’s Proxi.

    Set up a Scheduled Task that Opens a URL, or Launches Firefox or your favorite browser.

    Automator might be able to handle this too.

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    1. Thanks for the Proxi shout out. :)
      This post is filled with great tips too!

      Cheers,
      Dave Delaney
      @griffintech

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  4. No way could I open 83 tabs without closing some of them once in a while. We must learn how to streamline the use of the tools we have because there is a wide variety and becomes more difficult if we just take everything without filtering.

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  5. Hey,

    Useful post. I often find myself doing some of what you are suggesting. I eventually always end up with one window that has several tabs open which require me to do something – effectively a todo list. examples include a tab for my blog with a draft.

    The problem really arises when I have a number of related tabs in a number of windows on a number of computers (laptop, work, home). I also use firefox for a set of tabs and Chrome for another. Now, if there was an easy way to merge and manage all of these centrally ;-)

    Shri

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  6. [...] http://webworkerdaily.com/2010/04/20/how-to-cure-tab-addiction-and-browse-more-effectively/ Posted in Internet, Management, Misc Stuff, Software, Tips & Tricks • • Top Of Page [...]

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  7. [...] How to Cure Tab Addiction and Browse More Effectively [WebWorkerDaily] Tagged:bookmarksdistractionsproductivitytabbed browsingtime management [...]

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  8. My Firefox addon offers extensive support for precisely this kind of workflow.

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/9071

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    1. Thanks for this tip!

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  9. [...] to Have a Productive First Week in a New Job as a Remote Employee See All Articles » How to Cure Tab Addiction and Browse [...]

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  10. Carlos Zenteno Friday, April 23, 2010

    It would be wonderful if MorningCoffee (FF addon) could work with tab folders, so what you suggests could be done automatically.

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