Not much. Always something. Mostly good.

Chrome Browser Pinned Startup Tabs

I finally "fixed" an irritation that's been part of my Death by a Thousand Cuts. I have a setup of web pages I want to open at startup in Chrome. However, I also want them to open pinned, as shown above.

Chrome provides three startup tab options:

  1. Open a New Tab page
  2. Continue where you left off
  3. Open a specific page or set of pages

Many people use #2 to accomplish what I want. But, you have to close all the other tabs before closing Chrome.

For years, I've used option #3. The problem was, my pinned tabs would typically appear but so would all my startup tabs, like this.

I'd then have to delete the regular-sized tabs. But if the pinned tabs didn't load, at least my startup tabs would appear and I could repin them.

The solution: a Chrome extension named Save Pinned Tabs.

This extension lets me save a named set of currently open pinned tabs. I can have multiple sets (not that I need them...yet), and mark one as Autoload.

I then changed my startup tab options to #1 Open a New Tab page and, et voila!, Chrome opens how I've always wanted!

It'd be nice if the extension let me edit the pinned tabs directly, but at the worst I can load a set, change them, and resave.

One less!

New Gmail Likes and Dislikes

I like the new Gmail. Others have already written about the new features (snoozing emails, etc), and I admit I don't use those. For those who are worried about the change, here's my quick two cents.

Likes

  • Good-looking dark theme
  • Right sidebar with Calender and Keep is useful
  • Left sidebar can be collapsed. Love this!
  • I previously always used Compact display density. Now I'm using Comfortable because I like seeing the email attachment links/titles, and I keep my Inbox pretty clean.
  • Mark All as Read

Dislikes

  • I wish the left sidebar didn't auto-expand when hovered over
  • Google Keep right sidebar app doesn't allow reordering of list items. Grrr.

Neutral

  • Tasks looks prettier than before, but doesn't really have better features. And it doesn't fit the way I work, because I need to rapidly copy sets of tasks elsewhere. I can do that with Keep. But I think it'll be a good app for many people, especially now that there's a mobile version.

Bonus

The Keep sidebar app puts completed list items in a Completed area at the bottom. Why can't I have this feature in Keep? Several years ago, Google removed some per-list settings, including where checked items appeared. I wrote about this at the time as a step backwards.

How to Handle Backlog Overload: Dump It

A couple of years ago I realized the older I was getting, the more stressed I was becoming about my backlog. Subjectively, I wanted to do everything on my list. Objectively, it was impossible. Even if I happened across Shangri-La and lived an extra hundred years, it was a steep challenge.

You see, my backlog is currently eleven pages long. It's divided into these categories.

Misc
Marriage
Health and Fitness
- Karate
- Fencing
- Other
- Food
Learning and Self-Improvement
Career
- Apps
- Job Hunt
- To Try/Use
- Security
- Misc
Music
Writing
- Titles
- Prompts, Other
- About Writing/Inspiration
To Read
To Watch
To Organize

In Getting Things Done (GTD), it's OK to have a Someday/Maybe list, where dreams go to slowly decay. I had several of these lists, in Google Docs, Google Keep, physical notebooks, and elsewhere.

I also collected web site bookmarks. If it was interesting, and I didn't read it then, I'd bookmark it. You can imagine. Every few months I'd discover I had a hundred bookmarks--a couple of week's worth of full-time reading (let alone comprehension). I'd beat myself up for being a lazy ass.

Things finally came to a head when one day I couldn't work because I was overwhelmed by all the bookmarks in front of me. I couldn't do them. I couldn't delete them. I couldn't look at them.

What was I going to do?

The Pomodoro Technique suggests writing down your distractions while keeping focused on the task at hand, and dealing with them later. I asked myself a simple question:

What if I treated my backlog and bookmarks as distractions?

Could I daily throw everything into a grotesque backlog that I didn't look at until Sunday? Would it be OK with me to archive my bookmarks--knowing I could find the info--and start fresh each week?

That's what I did, and still do with some tweaks. Want to try it yourself?

The Process

1. Collect all your backlog items ("someday I might do this") into one place.

I wrote everything in a Google Write document. I then recited this...

Mantra
"Dude, it's perfectly OK if you never do any of this. It'll always be here for you to come back to."

2. Make it easy to jot down backlog items during the day.

I use Google Keep for this. I have a note called "Backlog Dump," and I just write down whatever it is that's distracted me at the moment and leave it completely alone until the end of the week. I tell myself,

Mantra
"You'll most likely delete these, because they won't be so shiny anymore."

3. Export all your bookmarks...

  1. In Google Chrome, open the Bookmark Manager
  2. Export bookmarks
  3. Put the file in a computer folder such as Bookmark Archives, and name it so it will sort alphabetically, e.g. "20180424 Chrome.html"

Mantra
"It's like your own little Google."

4. ...then delete them
This was when I knew I was doing the right thing. I deleted all my bookmarks--I had them saved, after all. Then I created two--yes, two!--folders:

  • Quick
  • Backlog

The Quick folder had a few links I knew I'd need to check almost every day. The Backlog folder held anything that distracted me. I could just drag and drop into it and...like my Keep note...forget about them. (I could also use this for temporary bookmarks).

Mantra
"You rarely need to keep a web site bookmark, because you almost always search for the site again next time. Besides, by searching, you might find something new and better."

5. Every week, without fail, purge
Every Sunday, I take a couple of hours and do a weekly update/review. For my Backlog Dump, I decide if I really might someday do whatever it is. If so, I move the item to my true backlog document. If not, I delete it.

For the bookmarks, I export, then go through each backlog link and decide if I'm going to read it right then. Do I care enough? If not, I delete it or maybe let myself hold onto it another week or two...but I can't have more than ten backlog links at the beginning of any week.

Mantra
"It's OK to not save this stuff. If you're really interested, you'll find it again."

What Am I Doing Now?

Pretty much the same thing. After a year, I found I could keep a small number of bookmark folders always available. I still purge most of what I collect each week. I empty my Backlog Dump each week.

And I actually do some of the things I set aside, because I no longer feel I have to do all of it.

Dump It, You'll Like It

Don't let your backlog control you. It's like storing up all those odds and ends thinking you'll use them some day, then you can't get your car in the garage. The method above lets you "throw them away" from your daily life without losing them forever. I think it's a good compromise. It has certainly dropped a boulder of guilt from my shoulders.

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