“Ending Tabmageddon” – NICAR 2022 Lightning Talk

Have you ever had this happen to you? You start doing research on a project and before long you have so many tabs open that you lose track of what’s important and where you found it. Your mind starts to wonder and you lose focus as you sift through all the different tabs in fear of what might happen if your browser were to suddenly crash.

It’s a diagnosable condition that I’ve come to call “tabmageddon.” And it’s not good for you: Having so many tabs open can make your research harder and it doesn’t get you closer to your real goal, which is to make sense of the information you’ve found. Over the years I’ve developed a few strategies for dealing with tabmageddon and I shared some of them during a lightning talk at the 2022 NICAR conference in Atlanta. You can view the video of my talk here.

Here’s a few tips for how to regain control over your online research and end tabmageddon once and for all:

  • Find a way to manage your tabs by grouping them into specific areas of research that you can pick-up and leave-off in between other browsing. There are various browser plug-ins to help you do that; Workona is one that I like. It allows me to create workspaces for my browsing activity so that I can stay organized as I do my research. Give it a try and see what you think.
  • Make a habit of saving the most important webpages you’ve come across and close out their tabs once you’ve archived them. I do this by saving shortcuts to key webpages I’ll want to revisit later and storing them in dedicated project folders for the stories I’m working on (it’s as simple as clicking and dragging the URL out of the browser into a folder). I also put together a story memo where I save excerpts and screenshots of key info so that I can easily get the big picture when I sit down to write. The key is to help me internalize key findings and quickly reference them.
  • And last, but not least, zero out your tabs at the end of the day so that the next day when you open up your browser, you don’t have a zillion tabs staring you in the face. I call it a “tab zero” approach and it’s helpful because having a fresh start each day helps me focus and avoid getting bogged down in rabbit holes – unless there’s a specific task that I want to carry on the next day, in which case I know those tabs are important.

Remember, you’re in charge of your internet browser – not the other way around. So retake control of your online research and end tabmageddon once and for all.