Looking for resources to curb compulsive behavior
February 8, 2020 5:23 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for resources available electronically (ebooks, videos, websites, podcasts, etc) on ways to deal with and curb compulsive behavior. It may sound dumb but the behavior I want to get a handle on is having massive amounts of browser tabs open all the time and feeling like i can't close them until I've absorbed all the info and decided how to mark it so it's accessible in the future if I need it (I never do).

Thanks. I don't know why i do this or really how to stop without feeling like I'm going to miss something useful or interesting. I am not in a place (geographically and time resource wise) where I can see any sort of professional to talk this over.
posted by WeekendJen to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
This isn't an answer to the general question but I have the same issue with tabs. My solution has been to just mass-bookmark them when I want to close a window. I also never look at them again, but they're there should I ever feel the need.
posted by trig at 6:02 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]

A few years ago I searched high and low for a browser extension that limited the number of tabs one was allowed to six or so. I never did find one but perhaps by now such a thing exists. You are not alone and it is a legit issue - all those tabs take up a lot of memtal space, just like a desk full of papers that one needs to file. Not to mention the burden on the computers memory resources. I wonder if enough other people got together with this problem, if we might be able to hire someone to write such an extension for us? Or, maybe someone knows of one that has emerged since.. or maybe I will learn how and do it myself ..but that could take * a while * ..
posted by elgee at 7:10 AM on February 8

I have the same problem with tabs. I dealt with it by installing the Onetab extension for chrome. Periodically I just click the icon in my browser & it saves all the open tabs for me, so I know that they're waiting safely for when I'm ready to come back to them.

After doing this for a while, I've realized that I almost never go back to look at any of the things I've saved. It makes it easier for me to sometimes just close tabs without having saved (or read) them first.
posted by belladonna at 7:16 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]

Do you have untreated ADHD or suspect you might? I do and I struggle with compulsive behaviors like information addiction/hoarding. My behaviors are almost impossible to control without treatment, but perhaps I'm an extreme case
posted by shaademaan at 7:26 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]

Is this Fear of Missing Out?
posted by SyraCarol at 7:35 AM on February 8

Maybe the answer is to be more organized? I use Pinterest and Instapaper which pretty much cover everything that I find and want to read but not just yet. I also had the open tab problem but this has helped significantly because now I just save it to Instapaper or Pinterest and I can fairly easily access it later. Pinterest is perhaps a little more useful in that I can organize and curate things, but Instapaper is literally just click and save.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 8:11 AM on February 8

I mean, there's probably something bigger going on. I've always been a packrat but due to some things in my control (tightening up my spending, getting disillusioned with consumerism) and some things out of my control (international move, big lifestyle change after kids). But information is free! it doesn't take up space! I think part of it is missing out on some info and part of it is also "aspirational" (oh look, what a cool idea, i should try that sometime...).

I have 599 tabs open in my laptop browser, and i don't know how many in my mobile browser. I used to have multiple browsers open all the time too when that was a way to get around the NYT paywall. But I just want to get to a place where it all racks my brain less.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:12 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]

I do this too, but I also have full-fledged OCD. Two books that are OCD focused that might help are Brain Lock and The Complete OCD Workbook (both available on Kindle).
posted by bananacabana at 8:45 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]

I did this in the past and it drove me nuts. Part of the problem for me was ADHD which convinces me that EVERYTHING is SUPER IMPORTANT.

One thing I did (and still do) was remind myself that search engines are pretty magical compared to the dawn if the internet age and it is highly unlikely that I will never ever find a page or a piece of information again. And there's always ask.metafilter to fill in the cracks if needed. I am so aware of how difficult this is to do in the moment but if you have a short mantra at the ready to remind you of this fact it will sink in in time.

I installed a browser extension that let me select the max number of open tabs allowed at one time. It was a complete pain in the ass for the first few weeks with the continual popup "you have too many tabs open. " message . But eventually I got the message less and less because I was naturally closing tabs automatically. Now I don't even have the extension running but I have never gone back to the were. It was hard but definitely worth it.

Do you have a trusted friend/family member who will close the tabs for you? That might just be the hardest part.

Good luck to you!
posted by i_mean_come_on_now at 11:15 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]

I wasn't into the hundreds of tabs, but I kinda cured myself of this by using something like trig's bookmarking solution. I created several OneNote notebooks in subjects like Recipes, Self-improvement, Travel, etc. Then added the OneNote browser extension, so now when I see an interesting item, I just click the purple button and save the article to the appropriate notebook, then close the tab and move on with my life. I can always do a keyword search for it later.

There's an old productivity and mental clarity hack called 'ubiquitous capture'. Basically just carrying around a notepad and jotting down everything that crosses your mind. The idea being that if instead of trying to keep track of it internally, where it takes up space and 'oh, I really should get to that' attention, if you can externalize it by capturing it (writing it down elsewhere), you can free up your mind moment to moment instead of having all those open tabs occupying operating memory.

That thing people do in old movies, where they knot a string around a finger, to remind themselves of something for later? Well if you keep adding string after string, all of those reminders become useless, and make it hard to use your hands.

Of course, as a productivity system, this approach requires the second step / discipline of going back and reviewing all those ideas and details you've captured, and turning them into actionable items on a regular basis. But if this is browser tabs lying around like a stack of half-read New Yorker magazines, that you feel like you should finish reading, someday...just declutter by throwing them into an infinite, automatically-indexed cardboard box in the attic and getting them out of the living room.
posted by bartleby at 11:26 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]

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