Limit Your Browser Tabs And Documents To Two For Better Focus

Limit Your Browser Tabs And Documents To Two For Better Focus

Letting multiple tabs and documents pile up doesn’t just waste time, it loads your brain with background processes (“What’s that tab for, again?”) that stifle actual work. Read an explanation of the Two-Tab Rule, and you might start enforcing a tab quota.

The Productive Flourishing blog makes the case for why limiting yourself to two browser tabs — one a content window for writing or otherwise creating, the other a page you’re referencing — makes sense, and not just in a vague sense involving “clutter”. It has to do with your brain, and the author’s concept of the Create-Connect-Consume framework. A quick explanation:

This rule is piggybacking off the idea that most of us can easily remember 5-8 chunks of information without it taxing our cognitive capacity. The Two-Tab Rule keeps the chunks of data that you’re trying to manage in that comfortable range, and, yes, that third tab pushes you out of that range. Your mind will drop something – it’ll either be the thought you were working on in your active tab or the information from the excess reference pages. A sure sign that it’s the latter is you having to switch through multiple tabs to find the information you’re looking for.

So, assuming your willpower will occasionally slip, how does one self-enforce a Two-Tab Rule? A quick search found two browser extensions that get the job done. For Chrome users, No More Tabs adds an enforcement button that restricts your session to a set number of tabs. Firefox users can check out Window and Tab Limiter, which offers a richer variety of options for restricting and recycling “old” tabs to limit your total to a set number.

Found another tool for keeping your tabs to a minimum? Seen good or frustrating results from trying this experiment yourself? Do tell in the comments.

Use The Two-Tab Rule To Stay Focused [Productive Flourishing]


  • By this logic you should only ever own two books. Clearly having another book on your bookshelf will distract you from the book you are currently reading.

    I often have over a dozen tabs open. I rarely find myself in a situation where I’m actively flipping between more than about six, usually it’s only two or three, but an open tab doesn’t have to be a tab you are actively using, it’s just sitting in a queue waiting to be read once the other tabs in this queue have been read.

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