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How to Fix The Problem of Too Many Tabs

When you work in the browser, work is flung at you from every direction. Before you know it, there’s a sea of tabs threatening to ruin your productivity.

It’s a big problem, but you’ve got options:

  1. Quick fix: Reduce the number of open tabs
  2. Long-lasting solution: Use a system to organize your tabs
  3. Speed things up: Suspend your tabs

We’ll show you how to do all three, so your tab tsunami becomes a thing of the past.


How do you know if you have too many tabs open?

The nature of your work might make it impossible to avoid lots of tabs. But here are a few tell-tale signs your tabs are out of control:

  • You can’t read the names of your tabs, or otherwise have trouble finding the tabs you need.
  • You have tabs open that are unrelated to the task or project at hand, which affects your ability to focus.
  • Your computer is fine when the browser is closed, but when you open all your tabs, it struggles to run fast enough.

Option 1: Close your tabs

The most obvious solution to this problem is to close your tabs periodically. This means taking regular inventory of your tabs and closing the tabs you aren’t using. One problem with this strategy is that many tabs need to be opened throughout the day; for example, your email inbox, an important Google Doc, or an article you're referencing. Constantly closing and reopening these tabs ends up being a waste of time.

But let's say you don't mind opening and reopening tabs all day.

You start to use the strategy of "just close some tabs", until you notice a major problem…

Your tabs are still disorganized.

You still have unrelated tabs grouped together. And you're still distracted, since these tabs are bigger (more room for enticing titles!)

Disorganized tabs in a browser window

Researcher Sophie Leroy explains how these disorganized tabs block your productivity:

“People need to stop thinking about one task in order to fully transition their attention and perform well on another. Yet, results indicate it is difficult for people to transition their attention away from an unfinished task and their subsequent task performance suffers.”

If your open tabs represent unfinished tasks (which is the case for most of us), you can start to see the problem. We’re leaving “attention residue” all over our minds. But you don’t want to close every tab and forget something important — so you deal with the constant mental distraction.

The good news is, you don’t have to be distracted with too many tabs, or forgetful because you closed them too soon. You can solve both problems by organizing your tabs. We'll show you exactly how to do it.


Option 2: Organize your tabs to reduce distractions

Three browser windows organizing tabs by project in Workona

Tabs are visual elements. So, to reduce the distractions caused by too many tabs, you need to hide unrelated tabs from view. Once all the tabs in your sight are related to the task at hand, you can finally focus.

There are multiple ways to do this:

  1. Recommended: Use Workona to manage your tabs. Workona’s main feature is workspaces, which lets you organize your work by project. In each workspace, the visible tabs are related to the project you’re working on. When you switch workspaces, your tabs will swap out and hide the other workspace’s tabs. This makes it easy to focus on one thing. And since Workona autosaves your tabs, you never have to worry about losing work.
  2. If Workona isn’t for you: Try a tab manager like Tab Wrangler or OneTab. Instead of organizing your tabs, they close your inactive tabs (Tab Wrangler) or let you bulk save your window full of tabs (OneTab). Unfortunately both apps are prone to data loss, so we can’t recommend them for professional use.
  3. If you want a DIY approach: Divide your work by window. Each context can have its own window and you navigate between them. Of course, this can get confusing as the windows start to pile up. You may end up with a “too many windows” problem supplanting your “too many tabs” problem.

Option 3: Suspend your tabs to improve performance

If your main issue with too many tabs is that it’s hurting your device’s performance, there’s an easy solution: tab suspension. Tab suspension renders your tabs essentially nonexistent from a memory perspective. They stay visible, but don’t take up memory until you need them to. Tab suspension comes standard with Workona, or you can use a tool like The Great Suspender.

For more tips on how to speed up your browser without closing tabs, see our troubleshooting guides for Google Chrome and Firefox.

As your tabs stack up, you don’t need to feel anxious. With Workona, you can have an organized browser, tabs that don't slow you down, and a newfound feeling of freedom.

This article is Part 4 in our series: How to Get Organized at Work. Check out the first article →