We Can All Use a Little Breather
I think the most tabs I had open at once in one window was around 85.
It was a hectic time in my life. I was applying for many jobs, binging a new show on YouTube, building a portfolio, researching digital marketing practices, learning to play guitar on Udemy, researching for my book, reading TV Tropes and Atlas Obscura articles, plus many more weird things that interested me.
Then, at the worst moment possible, my computer decided to update and wouldn’t let me save any of my tabs.
It shut down, leaving me staring at my screen in disgust and shock. How dare my circuit box of hopes and dreams stop working when I’m so terribly busy?
When it turned on again, it left me feeling something different. There weren’t any open tabs, no job application portals or educational videos, not a sign of the projects I was working on while using my browser.
It felt liberating for a moment. After I re-opened my tabs and windows and resumed the abuse of my computer’s RAM, it occurred to me that I missed that relief. I once again longed for a deep breath of accomplishment that comes from closing all of my tabs.
It reminded me of the gut-punching speech from Up in the Air (scene belongs to its respective copyright):
No matter how you feel about the subject, Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney), one of Jason Reitman’s anti-heroic protagonists (the other being Thank You For Smoking’s Nick Naylor), does have a point.
We do get bogged down by things and feel their weight pull us down. Ryan details something about us that we can forget sometimes; letting things go can feel good.
Truthfully, that’s easier said than done. This weight can be due to self-imposed conflicts and commitments. We’ve made promises to ourselves and to others that are too hard to break. To Ryan, that’s akin to suicide, but in life, that’s okay.
In this case, I’m presenting a straightforward way to let yourself go and feel a little bit of relief. It doesn’t require dropping everything and moving to a brand new country, but it is substantial. It only requires one thing- your computer.
Step 1- Go to Your Multi-Tabbed Browser
We all have one of these. You have multiple tabs open to things you hope to get to sooner or later. It may be a writing project, research on SEO tips and tricks, work for a client, or even many YouTube or social media tabs. It just sits there, taking up bandwidth and RAM from your computer or phone, mocking and taunting you to pay attention to them, and stressing you out.
Step 2- Save the sites to a list
This one requires a bit of work, but trust me, it’s worth it. Open a new document, no matter the format, and paste the open links of every single tab into a list. Stack the list based on how important the tab is if you want. A social media site doesn’t matter as much compared to necessary research for a client.
This list will help you remember all of the things necessary for your previous streams of consciousness. You can cross off these entries at your own pace, but at least you’ll have them saved. I do this, especially for Medium articles.
Save the document to a specific name, so you don’t forget.
Step 3- Close Them All
This step is the hardest part, but this is when the relief will kick in. Start pressing the little “x” next to each tab, or close the entire window at once. The screen will empty your previous tabs and open your attention. A weight will release off of your back, and you’ll be able to breathe again. Enjoy that breath.
Take in that freedom, and treasure it. You’ll always have that list to revisit the lost tabs. For now, you have some digital freedom on your hands, and I hope you cherish it.
BONUS: Step 4- Close the Computer for a Bit
One last thing.
Now that you have some disconnect from work, now is the chance to make the final cut, especially if you have time. Turn off the computer, and sit back in your chair. Take another deep inhale, and feel the air move through your nose. Take in the sensation of breath passing through your windpipe and into your lungs. Now, exhale.
There’s a lot you can do now, especially with this one moment of taking off your digital knapsack. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
It can be very easy to ignore the extra weight we feel from too many urgencies. Once in a while, we do need to take a break.
Here’s to dropping many more digital knapsacks in the future.