One of the best things about modern browsers, the tab, is also the most destructive to my productivity.1 While I wouldn’t want to give up my tabs, I’ve found an awesome productivity hack to help me manage them.
1. The Problem
In short: cognitive clutter. Visiting Twitter, a favorite blog, or some RSS feeds I’ll end up accumulating tabs in my web browser. These tend to be things I know I may want to come back to later, but wasn’t ready to commit to bookmarking.
The problem with bookmarking a website is that either you have to spend a lot of time curating your bookmarks (into folders or hierarchies or you just bookmark things willy-nilly. What I needed was a way to save things I knew I wasn’t going to visit all the time – but which I might want to see again some day. Since I was pretty sure I didn’t need a bookmark of these tabs, I would just leave them open (I’ll get to them some day and then close the tab).
Those open tabs created what I’m going to term cognitive clutter. Whenever I looked at the top of the browser, all I saw were a line of icons – things I felt like I needed to read or do.2
I’m pretty sure this is exactly why Evernote has a business model – people want to save the things they see or think in a searchable fashion.
2. The Solution
The answer was e-mail. While I don’t need MORE e-mail, my e-mail is already a repository for information that I want to keep because I may some day need or want to look back on it, but not a place where I went to refer to something all the time.
Now I send myself an e-mail with the subject “bookmarks” and then dump any links I’m not going to get to immediately and don’t warrant a bookmark. To find something that I once saw, all I need to do is search for an e-mail with “bookmarks” in the subject line, from me, and then perhaps a word about the thing I’m trying to remember.
Really, I use this same system for a lot of other things as well. I e-mail myself “todo” lists, “song” lists, and other lists. Things I don’t need to remember, but don’t want to forget forever.
Anyhow, I hope this has been of some use to you. :)