Building leverage: Tab hoarding edition

fantasy illustrated flat lay of objects which are all bookmark-adjacent, including leaves, feathers, moths, e

For my New Year's resolution, I said I wanted to build leverage, and that means:

Designing new processes — and buying or even building equipment — to plan, grow, manage, and harvest [value] effectively.

And that means… addressing my tab hoarding problem.

Why do I worry about tab hoarding?

Because it's a big source of mental stress:

  • each tab is kept for a reason, an open loop — open loops have a cognitive cost,
  • not being able to find the one I want is stressful,
  • feeling overwhelmed and crushed by the number of open windows/tabs,
  • it slows down my machine, which is irritating,
  • it makes opening new tabs and windows feel like the wrong thing to do,
  • it feels like I could lose them and therefore lose the reminders/information/data/ideas contained in those open loops forever — again: stressful,
  • it feels out of control

But the solution isn't to just close them, you're never gonna use them anyway. Because yes, actually, I do use them!

And anyway, throwing "clutter" away isn't a system, and it doesn't solve any problem. It's a superficial patch.

Tossing my tabs into a bookmarking app — even with tags — is also a no go, because that divorces them from the context and I frankly won't go back to it, not because I'm lazy, but because it loses meaning to me and it becomes too much work to reconstitute that meaning, and so I won't.

But… why hoard tabs in the first place?

Because I'm going to use them later. Really.

A huge part of what makes my work different & dare I say it, more valuable than other people's is that I research widely, read endlessly, gather ideas and examples from all over, pay attention to what's happening, and what I think about it, and incorporate that into my work.

It's a crucial part of what makes my brain go.

Tabs are thoughts, questions, arguments, research, ideas, data, prompts.

Why would I devalue that? Why would I give that up? Just to be "tidy"? No. But still, my old way of working wasn't working.

So here's what I do now:

I create draft posts and dump relevant links and screenshots into them… even if I'm nowhere ready to write.

Then they're right where I want them, when I want them. Aka mise en place, one of the principles from my book, Just F*cking Ship.

I add new links and whatnot to those posts over time, too, as I find new things I want to include or think about.

I've been doing this a while for my photography blog. But I hadn't really been doing it for work until now. *Slaps forehead*

But it's a New Year and I will from now on.

There are a few other ideas I'd like to noodle with along these lines, like…

  • could I make it easier than opening the web interface of my CMS and copying and pasting?
  • what about using OS X Spaces for different topics?
  • what about tabs I just want to read later but don't have a specific use case?

But those are for the future, and my new system is plenty good enough for now!