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This Is Why You Have So Many Tabs Open All The Time

It seems there are two types of people in this world. Some who keep their web browser clean and tidy, with the minimum number of tabs or windows open as possible.

Then there's the rest of us who have approximately 50 billion tabs open at any given time.

That's TOO MANY TABS.

It can feel overwhelming and stressful trying to relocate the tab you opened half an hour ago.

The only upside to tab-hoarding is the satisfying ritual at the end of the day of closing them all. Goodbye, ASOS sale. Goodbye, funny cat video. Goodbye, intellectual journal article you were never going to read anyway.

Finally, you're back at tab zero. Until tomorrow, that is.

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Tab-hoarders anonymous

So, why do us tab-hoarders do it to ourselves? We asked Lysn psychologist Noosha Anzac to shed some light on our overcrowded browsers.

"There are many reasons why a person might keep many tabs open at work, and usually, this stems back to working memory, or the ability to retain a specific amount of information while intervening with other information or tasks," Anzac told 10 daily.

Or to put it simply, multi-tasking.

"We all know that interruptions can easily make us forget what we’re doing, so therefore keeping many tabs open is a good way to keep tabs (pardon the pun) on our work. We simply might keep them open to come back to them at a later time."

Another reason behind tab-hoarding is FOMO.

FOMO, for the uninitiated, is the 'Fear of Missing Out' where someone might feel anxious about not attending an event, for example, for fear of missing out on what's happening. The explosion of social media has only magnified the concept of FOMO, according to Anzac.

"Being able to switch between tabs (or social platforms) to check what’s going on allows us to feel a part of what’s happening on the outside work rather than feeling excluded," she said.

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System overload

It's a cliché but it's true -- we really do live in a hyper-connected world.

On top of the gazillion tabs open on our computers, we might also be scrolling social media and pinging back texts on our phone, with the TV on in the background whilst simultaneously trying to have a face to face conversation.

The result? System overload.

"It’s easy to see why we can be so easily distracted," said Anzac.

"We only have a limited supply of attention or cognitive capacity," she explained, " and with the huge amount of information we need to process it can be incredibly hard to focus on just one thing."

To put it in context, we switch activities on average every three minutes at work, whether that's moving from working on a task to talking to a colleague then making a phone call. This makes it darn hard to focus on just one thing.

Forgetting FOMO

There's a sinister side to FOMO that sees many of us chasing an illusion rather than living in the 'now.'

"We think we are missing out on something but in the process, we are missing out on what we are doing right now because we don’t even know for sure if what we think we were missing out on is good or will make us happy!" Anzac told 10 daily.

We don't have to live lives crammed full of open browser windows and FOMO. There are things we can do to get our screens -- and minds -- back to tab zero.

"Try practising some mindfulness techniques which will focus on being present and showing gratitude for ‘in the now’, regardless of what you are doing or where you are," encouraged Anzac.

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Try meditation, breathing exercises or yoga -- anything that forces you to slow down and really think about your thoughts and why you might be feeling that way.

Anzac also recommends practising gratitude as often as possible -- "this allows us to be aware of how lucky we are and thankful for what we’ve got, thus not thinking as much about what we might not have."

Help is at hand

If, however, you are finding yourself feeling particularly anxious or stressed about FOMO, you should try to talk to someone about it.

"This could be a close friend or if you don’t feel comfortable, seek the help of a professional who can talk you through some tactics that might help you to manage these feelings," Anzac said.

Services like Lifeline and Beyond Blue all provide free support by way of over-the-phone counselling with trained experts. Services like Lysn also provide access to psychologists via phone or video chat, which can be accessed from the comfort of your own home.

Feature image: Getty.