Collectively, we watch over 1 billion hours of YouTube every day. Globally, that’s an average of one and a half videos per person. Every day.
If you’re like me, this presents an issue. Though YouTube is incredible from an autodidactic standpoint, it’s also an unparalleled resource for procrastination. The recommended videos algorithm has a way of bringing up exactly the right titles to turn “oh I’ll just watch a couple videos before getting to work” into “how is it already 2am????”.
Despite an average video length of just over 4 minutes, the average mobile viewing session lasts 40. It’s designed to suck you in.
Here are four ways to pull yourself out.
This one’s important. I’ve found that one of the biggest reasons I procrastinate is that I don’t know exactly how much time I have to work. If I get home at 3pm, I’ll often imagine I have until midnight to get things done. That often makes me feel like I can afford to burn an hour, even if that turns into two, and then have dinner, do my laundry… pretty soon the time has slipped right through my fingers.
Making an honest schedule, even for brief periods, always helps. Try not to rush yourself through things; budget in an hour to eat, an hour to relax, a half hour to fold clothes… you’ll find there’s less time than you think to really be productive, which will help you make use of it.
Nebulous clouds of free time are not your friend. Sitting down and committing exactly as much time as you need to a given project makes you much more likely to get it done.
The universal truth; there’s an app for everything. Including helping you stay off other apps.
Self control apps let you make a list of websites that you want to block, for a set amount of time. You can block a site like YouTube for a minute, an hour, a full day. You can also schedule set times that the domains will be blocked, like blocking YouTube and Facebook from 4-9 PM on Thursdays and Fridays.
Some will just read an error message when you try to access one of the sights. Others get more creative, like filling your screen with a “STAY FOCUSED” in bold lettering. Shop around, see what works for you.
We’re all human. There are going to be days when we get caught up watching old Game of Thrones clips and get absolutely nothing done. At the end of a day like that, we can’t be too hard on ourselves. If we get down and demand better, it just makes it that much harder to get started, because we feel like we’re playing catchup.
Allow yourself your breaks when you need them. It will help you feel a surge of energy when you get back to work, instead of a dull resignation.
This feels obvious, but it’s an important thing in the modern world. We have gotten so used to being constantly connected, we will often go months without spending a moment off the grid. A quiet place with no wifi, preferably in nature, can go a long way. Even if it’s only for an hour or so a week, spending time away from our devices will help us slow down and focus on the task at hand when we reopen the computer.
A few moments away from the internet will refresh your sense of perspective, and help you distinguish between vapid and meaningful content.