I have a bad habit.
My husband knows it, and still loves me. I sometimes hide it, but it’s always there.
Here it is: I am a chronic tab user. My Web browser is chock full of open tabs.
Let me explain. I use bookmarks, I do. I save links. But if I’m simply trying out a recipe, saving an article for a quick read, or researching an eatery, often I will open up a new page in my browser and either do my research or save my reading there. Sometimes I come back to it, and often I don’t.
I find myself thinking, “That banana bread was a hit! I should save it in my recipe file” or, “That really was a great article—it would be worthwhile to bookmark it.” But in the gray zone between finding and making the recipe and the family consensus that it was indeed a hit, I neglect to go back and actually save it.
(Did you know that iPhone lifted their tab limit from 39 windows to 500 windows last year? Don’t ask me how I know that little factoid.)
Then came the day when I was troubleshooting a website development project, and a side effect of the machinations was that all the tabs were closed, on all my devices. Every single one. (Have I mentioned that I don’t synchronize browsers across devices because, well, I have different websites open on all of them? I told you it was a bad habit.)
So all the tabs in all my browsers on all my devices were closed. I’d been saving them. I was going to come back to them some day. They were open for a reason.
Will I miss them? Some, yes. Some recipes we’ll never repeat because I never took the extra step of bookmarking the site or recording it in a recipe file. Some book info I had pulled up with intention to borrow from the library or add to my book list will be hard to remember. Some things I was saving for a second pass will never be revisited, because that’s the way the Internet works. The ones that were open because they are an integral part of my personal and work life—those are simple to reopen.
But some things I was saving I’ll never go back to, and I’ll never miss. Who cares about the dud recipes, the read-once articles, the news site, the Amazon review, the already-appreciated image gallery. Enjoy it and move on.
It got me thinking about holding on to things—how I hold on to things “just in case,” or because I might need it some day. We do a pretty good job of keeping the physical accouterments just barely in control around here. There’s a constant cycle of Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace postings, where unused and unneeded items can find a new home. Kids’ clothes get passed on to friends that can give them a new life. Food and pantry resources are used without too much waste.
But I had this digital waste taking up emotional space in my life.Every time I scroll through the many open tabs, looking for just the right one, it wastes time and energy. When away from my phone, the thought of how I need to go back and save that one link takes my mind off the task actually at hand.
In what other ways am I “keeping the tabs open” in my life? Do I think, “I’ll come back to that some day”? Do I keep tabs open, not because I need them, but because I can’t move on from them? Are there tabs that keep me from really living engaged right where I am, because of the constant reminder of what could have or should have been?
Not all the tabs are bad. Some need saved. But some need closed. And none need to be in this constant state of temporary storage.
A better option is to intentionally close the tab, with gratitude and thankfulness, and move on to the next thing for the day.
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
What tabs can you join me in closing today?