I have been watching myself avoid working in a variety of clever ways.
Most of them center around the browser, and the "tabbed" browser UI is troubling me more and more. You could say most of them are flaws in my own use, but I think they are common enough that solutions should be found.
The tabbed browser is broken. It's a bunch of tabs, often ordered badly, and the overhead of navigating it all is making computers gradually less useful for me.
I use browsers for News, for Research, for Apps, and as part of a collaborative experience.
People send links via IM, Email, or Facebook, and I click on them, which immediately disconnects the content from the original discussion. I don't know who to reply to about a certain article, because it's unclear exactly why that tab is actually open. I don't know when the tab was created, and I don't know which task I was doing when I opened it.
Often I will have 100 tabs open. I have seen Safari eat my wife's Mac with way way more than this. The "hunt" through the ten windows and 100 tabs is no fun and needs to get fixed.
Some of my tabs will be half-read articles that were interrupted by another task. Some of them will be things I've mostly read but didn't close. They don't close themselves, they don't even try...
Some of the tabs I've never looked at. Some of them are lazy bookmarks, things I'm keeping open so I can compare "A vs. B" later, except it's really hard to do that, because lining them up is quite hard.
But I do notice that I have "sets" of things...stories opened from a discussion, references from a Google search on an obscure programming term. And rarely do I think in advance, "I'm going to create a new window and start a new task."
We could have sets. We could have tasks. The computer could figure it out and make it make sense. I am really sure that a 3GHz quad core CPU could figure out "these things are all links from google results pages with setTimeout in the query string."
(And yeah, IE does some color-coding by domain, but this is just visual noise, not organization.)
I need some really amazing ways to group tabs by task, to save sets of them, and to have the UI connect back to the places I came from.
If I click on a link from Facebook or Twitter, and then I want to leave a comment for the person who sent me that direction, why should I have to look through tabs to do this? Wouldn't a great UI link these pages together?
Or maybe I'm shopping online for the best energy-efficient lightbulb, and I've opened 50 pages talking about that, and Windows update comes along, and I say, man, I want to come back to this later. Wouldn't a great UI let me save them as one 'library' of stuff and close 50 tabs at once?
And what about when I sit down at my computer to look something up, but instead there's some phenomenally juicy page on the top of my browser that makes me forget what I was going to accomplish and read it instead? Wouldn't a great UI somehow ask me what I wanted to do when I woke up my laptop? Google could (and should) make this fantastic.
I am seeing a ton of add-ons and random hacks that try to do things like this, but I think this set of problems is so core to the experience and so important to get right that we have to re-think the organization of the browser.
Adding tabs to the browser was a huge step forward for so many reasons, but it is time to help people organize the work they are doing on their computers, not confuse them with distractions and 100 tabs at a time, which is mostly what my computer is, today.
Today, I usually just quit the whole thing, lose all my state, just to avoid having to look through the entire mess. This can be so much better, and it doesn't even take a miracle, just some smart code and good UI.