This Week’s Insight: This post is not for you organized mono-taskers out there, who diligently take on one thing at a time and see through each to its completion. (Do you even exist?) This is for us, the frazzled and distracted desk drones who aspire to be multitaskers but who are not quite successful, guilty of keeping approximately one million tabs open at once throughout the workday. Or, specifically, this is for me: When I was shutting down my computer yesterday, I saw that I had upwards of 20 tabs open, and I had a feeling this was making me increasingly distracted throughout the day.
An Explanation: Alessandro Acquisiti, an associate professor of information technology and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, has studied distraction, and had this to say about my too-many-tabs issue:
Things that may distract us without actually capturing our conscious attention (for instance, a mobile phone left on the desk close to the keyboard, secretly "reminding" us that a new text or a new call may just be about to arrive), can have a detrimental effect on the performance on a task.
So, in your scenario, it is possible that all those tabs may act as secret distractors, and that you may be better off closing them off — similarly to how certain people work better in less cluttered offices.
Why It Matters (and What to Do About It): Not only is my multiple tabs habit taxing my brain; it’s taxing my browser, too. (And to think of all the times I’ve complained about Chrome crashing or my internet connection being slow.) Lifehacker has this excellent list of browser extensions to help manage tabs, which I intend to check out today. And while I’m at it, maybe I’ll clear off my desk, too.