Let me give you three scenarios:
You had a hard time writing down a scene. As a form of research, you looked for related videos on YouTube to help you with your writing. But then, you got hooked on watching other videos until you’ve watched more than five of them and mostly were not really related to what you were writing.
You felt drained from writing a long article, and you’re still halfway through. You decided to take a break by checking your social media and found a video entertaining. But what should have been a five-minute break became an almost an hour binge-watching and realized that you haven’t written so much and the deadline was fast approaching.
You received a notification that a new season of your favorite series has started on Netflix. And because you wanted to be one of the first to view it, you clicked on it and began watching. Before you know it, you’re almost done watching the whole season and you haven’t reached 50% of your writing assignment.
Have these happened to you? The struggle is real, isn’t it? I admit, these happened to me, too.
What is binge-watching?
It’s called binge-watching, a marathon viewing for entertainment which is simply a form of distraction. Yet, we justify the action as part of learning or education but in fact, it’s not helping us on the task at hand. It’s the disengagement from reality and feeding the “fear” that disguises itself as procrastination.
Yeah, we’re experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic and almost everybody is in quarantine. That’s another justification. But is binge-watching worth justifying?
Everyday, we’re distracted by social media, YouTube, Netflix, mobile games, and other activities that suck us out from our seats into the rabbit hole of binge-ing. Our days have been characterized by mostly entertainment and distraction rather than creating and learning.
“Entertainment and distractions are the enemies of creation and learning. They will keep you in mediocrity.”Benjamin Hardy
And “mediocrity” is a word we love to hate. Why? Because we don’t want to be called mediocre. We have this desire to become extraordinary, to become successful, to become different from the rest. Yet, within our twenty-four hours, almost half of it is spent on entertainment and distractions. And it’s easy for us to justify the mediocre activities as “education” when in fact it doesn’t help us improve.
What are the signs that you’re running into the binge-watching rabbit hole? Here are four signs that I could share with you as well as five ways that help you get out from it fast.
4 signs going down the binge-watching rabbit hole
- You’re watching two or more videos or episodes than necessary. Remember the first scenario earlier? If I remember right, only two of the videos I watched helped me write the scene, and the rest were not.
- You’re spending more time binge-watching than writing. Have you tried comparing the time you spent on writing (or working, for that matter) against the time you spent on entertainment and distractions? Try observing that for a week and see.
- You’re starting to prefer the entertainment rather than the writing job. Entertainment is a form of relaxation but if it’s getting in the way of productivity, that’s another story.
- You’re trying to justify what you’re doing as a form of resistance. Listen to what you are saying to yourself. Are you resisting the writing process? Are you trying to delay something? Are you in denial?
Once you get yourself hooked on binge-watching and you’re starting to prefer it rather than work, then it’s a problem.
So how do you get back on track?
6 ways to bounce back out from it fast
- View only what is necessary. I suggest that if researching, prefer text format like books or online articles rather than videos. And if you can’t help looking for videos for research materials, stop viewing once you get the answer you’re looking for.
- Be mindful of your time. I’ve been using a Bullet Journal to track my time and motion. This way, I can see how much time I spent on sleep, work, and other non-work related activities; that’s eight hours of each in a day. So by the end of the day or the week, I could see how much time did I spend on writing/working over non-work related activities.
- Be strict in implementing the Pomodoro Technique. Pomodoro Technique is helpful especially when I’m faced with a daunting task. It breaks down the task into 25-minute intervals with 5-minute breaks in between. Be strict when you’re taking the break, if it’s five minutes, get back to work after five minutes. No more ifs and buts.
- Use a separate browser tab for work and enable distraction-free tools. I have a browser tab that I use for work and nothing else. Notifications are turned off or, if it is on, I won’t mind them until late in the afternoon when I wrap up for the day’s work. Also, I have an extension that enables me to be distraction-free from ads and other non-essential features on a website. I also have a distraction-free writing software that allows me to write without seeing icons, toolbars, etc.
- Turn off the phone or put it somewhere far from the work desk. If I have my cellphone beside me, but it is almost off, so I don’t hear any notifications from social media, text messages, etc.
- Have that self-discipline to follow these suggestions. I have an image on my desktop that says, “Just Do It”. I know, it’s a famous tagline of a known brand, but seeing it motivates me to get past those distractions, fears, and “justifications” and keeps me moving forward.
“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”H. Jackson Brown Jr.
But what if…?
Okay, let’s face it, working from home gets distracting especially when you have kids playing or it’s time to do household chores. If in case you get necessarily distracted, here are a few tips:
- Schedule your me-time separately from your work time block. I usually wake up at 3:00 am so I could do my morning rituals. I check my emails by 6:30 am and start writing at 7:00 am. By 11:00 am, I take a break to prepare and eat lunch and go back to work right afterwards. I wrap up by 5:00 pm and prepare dinner. By 7:00 pm, it’s either I’m about to sleep or would still be taking a shower and prepare myself to bed. If I’m still up past 9:00 pm, I know I’ll be lacking sleep.
- Speaking of emails, remember that not all emails are urgent and important. Give yourself up to 24 hours to respond to an email. Apologize if you must, but emails must not rattle you.
- If watching a film or video is important, consider it as a task. It should be marked done once it’s done and do not overextend it.
- Prefer watching educational and motivational videos over entertaining ones that provide less value. This way, you may not feel guilty of binge-watching without learning.
As I’ve been saying, the binge-watching struggle is real. I feel you and that’s what I’m here for. I’ve been there, done that, and I’m sharing with you what I’ve done to get past the struggle. This way, you won’t commit the same mistakes I’ve made. Always remind yourself to be the good person you want to be today than yesterday and become a much better person tomorrow.
I know I have to get back to blogging. And this piece that you’re reading is already a sign that I’m back.
Let me know if you have the same experience in binge-watching and tell me what you think. Let me know, too, if I have missed anything, I’d appreciate your feedback. And if you like to read more about freelance writing, productivity, or creative writing, please do subscribe to my quarterly newsletter and join the tribe. Also, I now have a YouTube channel called Open Notes. Go check it out.