Week 2: Banishing virtual clutter for a cleaner workflow

Virtual clutter is still clutter.

In our connected, online world, so much of our time is spent wading through information overload, juggling multiple programs and apps, and warding off the ever-so-frequent notifications that pop up on all our devices. The messy offices of the pre-digital era have mostly been displaced into our online environments, whether desktop or mobile.

I don’t know about you, but I often feel overwhelmed with the sheer number of windows and tabs open on my computer. I’m sure there’s some science behind the number of tabs open on my browser and it’s correlation to my ability to think clearly.

Researching new ways of clearing my digital desktop over the past year has yielded two fantastic apps that I use on a daily basis:

Clearing the scene.

It’s very possible that a combination of FOMO, my mind being a magnet for information, and the jumble of thoughts and ideas brewing as a result of what I read/see on the interwebs culminate in an proliferation of browser windows and tabs that are so small that only the favicon is visible.

This is endemic on my iPhone as well, and proves to be a problem when I scroll through so many tabs that I forget what I was looking for in the first place. Distractions, distractions.

One Tab has been fantastic for this – corralling all my tabs into one easily accessible button on my browser, where I can return to at my own discretion and find that the pages I thought I HAD to save weren’t so important after all 😉

I haven’t seen the same utility for mobile, but taking time to sort through and delete tabs on my phone browser feels like catharsis once I hit the little x on the last tab.


Cutting the virtual clutter

Ever seen a computer desktop so filled with folders that made you want to turn the computer off? Ever had multiple apps or windows open at the same time and rotated through them multiple times just to find the one you wanted?

Yep. I’ve been there.

I got the folder situation under control a few years ago (which calls for systems, which I’ll go into later in the year), but keeping the desktop clear despite my massive 27″ screen, was still a challenge.

Enter two amazing apps – Magnet and Station.

Magnet is a nifty little app for your Mac desktop that allows you to size your screens quickly and easily without pesky overlaps. When I need to view windows side-by-side or transfer content from my word-processor or email to my design programs, Magnet helps set up my screens to maximize desktop space. Get it here.

And Station, how I love thee. Besides the amazing LOTR tagline (one app to rule them all), this app is just so slick and user-friendly. There are so many cloud-based apps I use for work now – Gmail, Slack, Google Play, Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive, and more – that having them all open in my browser just exacerbated my tab-hoarding and window-layering issues. With Station, I now use only the apps I need for work, without getting distracted by other browser tabs, links or ads. It keeps my web browser at (virtual) arms’ reach so I spend my time on the important stuff first. It’s super simple to set up and they’re adding more integrations every day. It’s still free, so get it while you can! It’s been a game-changer; a not-sure-where-I’d-be-without-it life-saver.

If you give these apps a try, or any other suggestions to banish virtual clutter, tell me about it in the comments below, or shoot me a quick email – I’d love to know how you’ve corralled your online environment!

Stay tuned for part 3 to find out how to stage your space to maximize your creativity and workday.

See you then!


This is the second article in the January Jumpstart series. Head over to Week 1.

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