When was the last time you spent an entire hour focused on completing just one task? Do you remember?
There are too many things diverting our attention and disrupting our collective focus (more on the dangers of that here). To make matters worse, as a society, we’re all too eager to embrace those distractions. Here, then, is the challenge: embrace the power of the single tab.
Feeeeeeel the power.
This article describes it clearly: instead of opening multiple tabs on your browser, commit to have only a single tab open at a time. Yes, only one.
If something is worth reading, it’s well worth reading through to the end. If you need to finish responding to an email, complete that before visiting your blog, for example, or watching another Youtube cat video.
Once you’ve completed the task on that one tab, only then can you decide what you want to dedicate your full attention to next and navigate accordingly.
Maximize Your Productivity at Work
The challenge is difficult in practice, there’s no doubt about that.
You’re accustomed to multi-tasking your way through different projects while simultaneously scrolling through email or updating yourself on the latest articles in the field. You’ve likely experienced the time drain of sitting down at your computer, only to realize thirty minutes later (or more!) that you haven’t accomplished anything more than checking your email.
Flip the script and try single-tab focus. Rid yourself of the illusion that you have to check your email every time you sit down at your computer or every time you get a notification that you have a new message. Instead, set aside 3-5 time windows solely for checking and responding to email each day and stick to it.
When you’re at work, the internet — including your email — is one of the biggest time-wasters you’ll experience. One minute, you’re doing productive research for a client or cranking away at a project. The next, you’ll find that you’ve been distracted by industry articles, lifehacks, social media links, or a breaking news video. Get in the habit of bookmarking articles to read later (with apps like Pocket), instead of immersing in them each and every time you find something interesting or compelling.
You’ll still get to read the pieces that are the most interesting or relevant to your work, but in the meantime, your productivity won’t suffer. (Bonus: You’ll probably retain the information better, too.)
Off the Internet, Into the Home
It’s a powerful challenge. Giving your full, undivided attention and focus to one task is incredibly difficult, there’s no doubt about that.
Further, it doesn’t have to stop at your internet habits. Have you ever tried to clean your house, only to discover hour later that you haven’t stopped moving, but nothing is actually any cleaner?
Single-tab it. Instead of moving throughout the house, constantly shifting your focus from one room or stack to another, focus on one room, or better yet, one drawer, at a time. Remove clutter, wipe down surfaces, and get rid of the extras, then move on to the next cabinet. Rinse and repeat.
Imagine Your Life Undistracted
How much more would the average person get out of life if they could simply focus in on the task at hand and work on it to the exclusion of all distractions clamoring for attention? Can you imagine a workout with no distractions? What about a day at work of focused concentration and dedication to the most important tasks?
Can you do it?
Start by taking back one area of your life. Your internet browsing could be a great place to start.
How many tabs do you have open right now? Close them down to one, and commit to keeping it that way. Narrow the focus, and get your stuff done.
If not now, when?