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How I manage my browser tabs to maximize focus

How I manage my browser tabs to maximize focus

16 February, 2021

Browser tab chaos gives me anxiety. This simple trick keeps me on task and productive without the need for fancy plugins or features.


I'm not here to pick on tab hoarders but browser tab chaos gives me anxiety. Making it harder for me to stay focus and productive.

For years now I've followed a simple mental model that keeps me from falling into this trap. Didn't think much of it until I was screen sharing with a friend who thought it was awesome! So here it is:

The rule is simple: Open each task or topic in its own window and related links in tabs.

That's it.

So let's say I'm working on fixing a bug. I start this journey with a new window CMD + n. The first tab is usually the Jira ticket where the work is defined. Next is often a google search and the rabbit hole of tabs that usually springs from that (ex: docs, blogs, StackOverflow, GitHub issues and so on).

Now let's say that in the middle of that I need to review an API design doc. Well, that's a different task/topic. It's a context switch. So it gets a whole new window 🌟

Main Benefits for me are:

  1. I always have a bird eye view of what I'm working on. Nothing gets lost in tabs. I can quickly cycle throw everything I'm working on by just cycling throw my open windows  CMD-`
  2. But the best is that when I'm done with a task I just close the whole window. This means that in one shot I say goodbye 👋🏽 to all the related tabs too. #noHoarding #feelsGreat #tinyDopamineDump 😌

  • Pro Tip I: Every once and a while I'll need to send home a tab i've opened in the wrong window. Instead of Jiu-Jitsu dragging windows to get it home I've recently discovered Chrome's new "Move To Tab" feature which makes this a breeze 🙏🏽
  • Pro Tip II: Chrome recently release a new Tab Grouping feature that can be used to implement this workflow. Personally, I prefer using windows because it makes it easier to keep everything I'm not currently focused on out of sight and out of mind. But feel free to give it a shot and see if it works for you.
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Senior Software Engineer @ CircleCI
Application Developer • Team Lead • Designer • Instructor • Writer • Formerly @Postmates & @Sosh • Generally an optimist.

Reach me @JoseBrowneX
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