How many times do you open a new browser tab in the course of an average workday?
Probably dozens, if not hundreds.
Every time you open a new tab, it’s a pause in your activity. Maybe a micro-pause, just until you can enter the first letters of a web address in your search bar and rocket off to your next destination, but a pause nonetheless – a tiny blank slate.
With every new tab, it’s an opportunity to shape your next flow of activity. How do you want this flow to play out? Do you want to be focused, motivated, cutting straight to the point of each task? Uplifted and inspired? Creative?
Or do you want to be distractible, easily getting dragged off task, or bored and in low energy?
What you see on your first page can have a real effect on your productivity. You want to work in an environment that’s inspiring and helps you stay focused, and when you work on the computer, your main “environment” is the screen. A new tab that supports and encourages you helps you start off on the right foot, whatever you’re trying to accomplish.
Color associations influence your mood and your mind
It’s well known that colors have a strong psychological effect. While color associations vary across cultures and individuals, there are some general patterns that hold true for most people of a Western background.
- Red: Strength, excitement, energy, danger, intensity, aggression, courage.
- Blue: Efficiency, logic, intelligence, stability, serenity, aloofness.
- Yellow: Emotionality, cheerfulness, friendliness, childishness, spontaneity.
- Green: Balance, harmony, healing, peace, environmental awareness.
- Orange: Fun, abundance, pleasure, youth or immaturity.
- Purple: Vision, quality, luxury, introversion, spirituality.
- White: Purity, cleanliness, simplicity, elegance, sterility.
- Black: Sophistication, glamour, security, seriousness, mystery.
With this in mind, take a good look at the colors on your screen, on your desktop or first page wallpaper, and in your workspace in general.
Get your mind in shape: how geometry on your screen affects your work process
Shapes also have a powerful language.
Long before branding and logos, nearly every government, organization, religion and spiritual tradition on the planet had its own symbols. Sacred geometry shows just how deep an effect they have on the subconscious mind.
Indian yoga, for example, makes use of mystical diagrams known as yantras. These are visual representations of cosmic forces. Concentrating on them puts the person in tune with this energy, allowing them to reach a higher state of consciousness.
Traditionally, yantras are also used for other, less spiritual purposes. There are yantras for bringing wealth and prosperity, healing from disease, good luck, and basically anything you can think of!
But it isn’t only special symbols that have power. Any shape we see has some effect on our mental state, whether or not we’re aware of it. Being aware of the shapes on your screen allows you to create the best possible work environment for yourself.
- Efficiency: Squares and rectangles convey stability and solidity. They bring a sense of trustworthiness, strength and familiarity. This is probably why almost 75% of the world’s biggest companies have square or rectangular logos. They’re the shape that most of our manmade world is built around: the shape of rooms and walls, building blocks, pages and screens.
Many first pages also incorporate squares and rectangles in the form of boxes, sidebars and features.
Looking at square shapes is grounding. They can give you a feeling of order and efficiency, like everything is in line and ready for you to get it done.
- Inspiration: Circles are much more active and fluid, giving a sense of motion. They are found commonly in nature but less frequently in human design. The sun and the moon, the Earth and stars… all of nature moves in circles.
Given their association with the cycles of nature, infinity and perfection, it’s no surprise that circles are a more inspiring and exciting shape than squares.
If your new tab shows background images from nature, it’s likely you’ll see a lot of circles and spirals.
They can trigger inspiration for creative work, or help you feel energized and inspired when your morale is flagging.
- Motivation: Triangles are the strongest shape, representing success, ambition, purpose and direction. They evoke movement as the eye naturally follows them from base to tip. (more motivations ideas for better work productivity can be found in this article)
Dramatic triangles also appear often in nature – think of a mountain peak reaching to the sky – so if you have a first page with nature wallpapers, you can expect a good dose of them.
They’re the most motivational shape, encouraging you to tap into that “get it done now” spirit.
When you’re choosing a first page, pay attention to what shapes it shows you the most, both in its backgrounds and its features. Do they help put you in the state of mind that you need the most for your job?
Best new tab personal dashboard extensions for every purpose
There are probably hundreds of new tab personal dashboard available by now in the Chrome store, and new ones coming out all the time. These are just a few of my favorites, extensions that really stand out and give something beyond the ordinary.
For inspiration and productivity: Limestone
Where aesthetics and functionality meet, Limestone offers both an uplifting dose of beauty and a plethora of useful tools with every new tab.
The background wallpapers are the first thing you’ll notice about Limestone: they’re stunning in high definition and gorgeous color, and some of them are dynamic. You can select your favorites or just let the extension cycle through its huge selection.
Limestone packs a lot of useful features into its sleek design. You get a personalized greeting, motivational quote, to-do list, weather and top links, as well as a search bar which you can set to any of the major search engines and many other popular websites (Amazon, Alibaba, YouTube, etc.).
You can even set it send you notifications whenever you get an email, so you won’t have to waste time checking Gmail.
Overall, you get a lot of bang for your buck.
For getting where you want to go (online): Home
Home presents you with a full screen of your favorite links, in the form of icons like you would see on an Android home screen. It also provides notifications, a notepad, a search bar and weather.
For getting quickly and easily from your first page to your next stop, Home can’t be beat, and it does it with style. Along with its built-in gallery, offering a colorful choice of wallpapers, you can upload custom wallpapers.
Its elegant, cheerful design is customizable. Add, remove and rearrange icons and app pages with a simple right-click menu.
For getting where you want to go (offline): Wandertab
If you’re itching for a globetrotting adventure, let Wandertab stoke that fire.
With every new tab, you get gorgeous pictures from around the world, plus how much it costs to get there… and a one-click link to book tickets.
It’s fun and energizing, and the photos will leave you drooling. Even if you can’t just grab your passport and go, Wandertab can take your mind at least on a mini-vacation.
For putting things in perspective: Earth View
Drawing wallpapers from the best of Google Earth’s satellite images, Earth View is a spectacular way to kick off a browsing session.
It’s a minimalistic personal deshboard, just giving you the views without anything in the way, except a globe showing the photo’s location. You can download the images, view history or the full collection.
For task management: Taco
Taco is a time-management helper that consolidates all your email and productivity apps under one roof. Bringing all your tasks into one panel, it allows you to organize your to-do list with a simple drag-and-drop menu. It supports Trello, Asana, Todoist and nearly 40 other popular apps.
Taco’s Gmail integration is one of its best features. You can set it to show only your important starred emails, so just by tagging an email in your inbox, you can add it to your to-do list. It also has a Focus Mode to help you avoid distractions.
For “awwww”’s: Baby Animals
Exactly what it sounds like! Every new tab gives you a picture of adorable baby animals. Kittens, foals, lambs, baby dolphins, bear cubs, baby hamsters and more. This personal dashboard Chrome extension might not be the best for helping you stay in “down to business” mode, but it will definitely make you smile.
For keeping track of time: Be Limitless
Be Limitless is a beautiful way to learn where you’re spending your time and how you can spend it better.
On top of spacious, inspiring photography, it breaks down your internet use by individual sites. Its analytics section organizes it into categories like Search, Social Media, Work, Fun and many others.
It also offers suggestions for productivity, and provides reminders, a to-do list and countdown timer.
For being here now: Present
If you’re more into letting go of time and diving into the present moment, check out Present, an extension that bills itself as “a mindfulness retreat in your browser.”
Simple and elegant, this extension greets you with a motivational quote and a meditation or yoga exercise that you can do in one minute, without leaving your chair. It also helps you track your water intake, reminding you to hit those 8 cups per day. (People often get dehydrated forgetting to drink water during long hours on the computer.)
The wallpaper images are quietly beautiful, a welcome break from the multitasking rush of a normal work session.
As you’ve probably noticed, there’s a Chrome first page personal dashboard extension for every situation these days. It’s just up to you to clarify what exactly you’re looking for. Do you want an organizational helper? A time management tool? An inspirational boost? Or just something to make you smile throughout a busy day of work?
No matter what the answer, there’s a new tab out there for you.