Hands up if you’ve ever caught yourself flitting around your browser, compulsively clicking from one tab to the next in a desperate bid to maximise your productivity by getting on with the next thing while that first thing loads, or processes, or whatever it is that it’s not doing fastenough?
See? I knew I wasn’t the only one.
I’m going to go ahead and guess that you’re trying to do All The Things when realistically you have a window of time and brain space that should only be accommodating at best half of them. Am I close?
I had one of those “Ohhhhhhhhhh…’ moments today. You know the ones – where you wonder how on earth it has taken you this many years to figure out that blindingly obvious thing.
Here’s my thing.
It’s ok to sit and wait for a while for the computer to open a program, or a website to finish processing a request. It’s ok to spend that time watching the wheel spin around.
Doing so gives you a greater chance of being present when it stops. It reduces your mental load, and in so doing makes you more efficient and more effective. It means you can get on with your task quicker than if you went away and came back via another task (or five).
I’m all for a good bit of critical time path analysis, but done on the fly, as a regular way of working and task management, it doesn’t help in the long run.
It’s ok for the task to take as long as the task takes.
When you’re working for yourself, it can feel hard to bill clients for time spent waiting. We’re all about giving value for money, exceeding expectations, giving giving giving. But read this very carefully. Time. Spent. Waiting. For. A. Process. To. Run. Is. A. Valid. Time. Cost. Without that time, the task could not be completed. Simple as that.
Of course, if you remain wedded to the idea of multi-tasking, it’s not as if you don’t have enough tiny ways to use that time, is it?
All those things you’ve been saying you want to do more of but never quite manage, like:
- Drinking more water
These are all good uses of that time that don’t involve switching to a new task and opening another item in your brain. What if every time you saw that spinning ball, you used it as a trigger to drink a glass of water and stretch your back?
So here I am, giving you permission to stop that incessant search for the most time-efficient way of doing things. To stop trying to eak out productivity from places that, instead, could afford you an unexpected moment of ease and the luxury to just sit and be present.
Not that you need my permission, of course. If you’re anything like me, there’ll be part of you sitting there reading this saying, “Ah… That’s interesting. But I can make bouncing between tabs work for me. I just need to be more disciplined about it.”
To you I say a hearty, “Knock yourself out, honey,” and when you finally need to close that browser, here’s an extension that has changed my life: One-Tab