Being stuck behind a computer for the better part of the day my mind tends to effortlessly navigate from one thought to the next, guiding me to tackle many different tasks at a time, and in turn forcing me to open up a new browser tab about once every few minutes.
Most of the time I don’t even realize how much I’m “multi-tasking” until the text that normally appears on the browser tab is no longer even displayed, thus causing an extremely hard time to navigate between each — something I refer to as “Tab Roulette” (pictured above).
Why so many browser tabs? Science explains.
As someone interested in the human condition as a whole, as well as my own self-growth, I started looking for an answer to this multi-tasking behavior. Many, many browser tabs opened later, research showed that we as humans are biologically programmed to be rewarded each time we complete tasks (no matter how simple they really are).
What is actually happening there is that each time we complete a task, our brain gets a “hit” of dopamine (the pleasure chemical). We love dopamine, which makes it addictive to get rewarded for even the most menial tasks.
Checking email → Dopamine
Booking dinner reservations → Dopamine
Responding to a chat message → Dopamine
But I have bigger goals.
Understanding the science of why I’d multi-task, it was obvious that throughout my day I’d get so caught up in the wormhole of completing tasks that I’d often forget to step back and think of the big picture. This was frustrating to me because I had much bigger goals than these small tasks, but they often seemed to slip my mind — something like a “motivation blackout”.
Maybe even worse than not being reminded of these goals was the fact that I’d feel drained (a side-effect of multi-tasking) by the end of the day and lack the motivation to work towards them. As someone looking to be a high performer at work and on my own projects, I needed to find a way to keep my motivation level high even when I’m stuck in the task wormhole that often comes with the 9–5.
Don’t argue with Science, hack it.
Knowing that my body was likely not to change in the near term, I instead decided to hack the process and inject a subtle hint of motivation into my day to day. What I’d often find myself doing when I lacked motivation was searching for inspiring quotes by known leaders, something that is apparently common practice. The problem was, doing this required me to be proactive and realize that I was running low on motivation, something that I often overlooked.
So by putting some of my (basic) coding skills to work, I built an incredibly simple Google Chrome Extension that delivers a motivational quote each time I open a new tab and appropriately called it New Tab Motivation.
So now, whenever I’m attempting to complete various tasks, I’m delivered a low-touch jolt of motivation in my browser. This boost didn’t require me to download an app, pull out my phone and check Instagram for a motivational post, or even search for inspiring quotes to get me through the day, but instead was right there seamlessly into my daily routine.
In developing technology products over the years, one of the major themes I’ve realized is that creating an entirely new behavior for people is incredibly hard to do. Instead, building something that is already part of a routine (i.e. opening browser tabs) is the best way to engage and create a useful tool that people will actually use daily.
If you’re a Google Chrome user that wants to get that extra boost of motivation throughout the day then check out New Tab Motivation.