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Mindfulist 1/21: Tabs

How many windows/tabs do you have open right now? How does this impact your attention?

Right now, one.

Occasionally two.

Rarely three. More common now that I use Pandora. I wish I could take it out of a tab.

Never more.

If something is sitting in a potential fourth tab, it’s probably just taking up space. Like a webcomic link I clicked on but haven’t reviewed yet. And if it’s sitting there, I can temporarily bookmark to look at it when I have more time.

I’m detailed enough that if I have that many tabs open at once, I will be attempting to monitor all of them, in perfect detail. And generally succeeding. But of course that’s tiring, and generally not necessary. My preferred workflow is simply more direct.

Even if I’m researching something, probably no more than two or three tabs. A focused back and forth rhythm between reference and searching. I will have taken a note or made a favorite, or incorporated what I needed, and can then move on.

For writing papers: This same process applies. I was an English major. Which means critical analysis of literature. Here are the steps.

  • Write a paragraph.
  • Check something online for five minutes.
  • Come back and rework part of the paragraph or bounce off more of the theme.
  • Break for five.
  • Come back and and tweak the paragraph. Start the next paragraph. Go back and tweak a bit more.
  • Break again.
  • Repeat.

When you fit an average of two or three paragraphs to a page, this is very effective.

  • After an hour or two, break for around 45 minutes.
  • As it happens, Diablo 2 takes right around 45 minutes between checkpoints.
  • A perfect match. Good times.

I could write a standard 4-6 page critical analysis in about five hours this way. I had ideas beforehand, and had quotes flagged, due to reading the book, and class discussion. I would take about an hour to double check and gather all the quotes I needed beforehand, to make sure everything was flagged.

Yes, it was preferable to review again later, but the basic paper would be done. And usually wouldn’t require too much editing.

When I say I rework a paragraph, I mean it. When I bounce away, the ideas are percolating.

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Categories: mindfulist
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  1. January 25, 2010 at 5:53 pm

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