It's three in the morning. You're on the couch, happily eating your way through a second bag of family-sized Doritos and bingeing the latest season of Stranger Things, only to realize two minutes into the last episode that an assignment from eight weeks ago that constitutes 40% of your final grade is due today.
You instantly go into a state of panic, your heart beating a little faster and your mind racing as you try to come up with possible excuses. After a few minutes of feeling guilty, you come to the decision that you'll simply "do better next time" and resume the Netflix marathon without a hitch.
Next thing you know, the same scenario happens again. And again, and again. Before you know it, it’s become a vicious cycle you don’t know how to handle anymore.
We’ve all been there... to some extent. It seems that, no matter how many times we tell ourselves it won't happen again, somehow, it does. Why? Well, whether we actually do something about the issue plays a big role in it. As impossible as it may seem, there are ways to shift ourselves away from binge-watching shows, instead channeling our energy into productive activities that will help us thrive and become our best selves!
First Thing's First: Plan It Out
Planning ahead and creating to-do lists is a great way to keep yourself accountable and stay on top of assignments and other responsibilities. Simply take a few minutes in the morning to write down what you would like to accomplish (assignments, groceries, chores, etc.) and place the list in a visible spot, so you can refer back to it during the day. If a task seems too daunting or too large to tackle all in one go, break it up into smaller sections and work through them, one at a time.
Having a set list of tasks ready in front of you creates structure, reducing the burden on your brain, helping it stay focused and motivated throughout the day, and making it less likely that you'll get bored and wander off to keep bingeing that show. With a to-do list, you'll be able to stress less, experience the satisfaction of achieving goals, and successfully become a productive person, a lot faster. I like the sound of that!
Find Out The Cause
Finding out the reason for your bingeing addiction is a great place to start. Is your main reason for bingeing shows on Netflix boredom? Or is it because it provides you with an escape from reality? Perhaps it's just your preferred form of entertainment? Whatever the reason may be, aiming to replace bingeing shows as the default solution will definitely bring you one step closer to solving the problem.
Once you've identified the reason, go on to think about alternative activities you enjoy that satisfy those exact needs. If you're looking for an escape, why not relax with a book of your choice, or try a therapeutic activity such as journaling or painting? If you're looking for a source of entertainment, why not try out a new hobby? There are countless alternatives waiting for you out there. All you need to do is see what suits your needs best.
Disable Access To The Service At Specific Times
How many times have you seen videos of the 'I deleted social media for a week' trend on YouTube?
It's nothing new. In fact, it's been going on for a number of years now, and countless people have been making the decision to de-activate or delete social media in order to free themselves from the concern of likes, follows, and views and the weight of staying "in the know" altogether. And while quitting social media alone will not magically make life a dream, research has revealed the positive outcomes that may occur as a result of it. This includes improved mental health, better time management, and an overall boost in productivity. The time that people would usually spend distracted on social media is now being spent on other activities, such as hanging out with family and friends, learning new skills, and discovering new interests.
Life's too short to spend it online all day, so it's time we Netflix and Disney+ addicts did something similar.
We all know the negative impacts that keeping our eyes glued to the screen for too long can have on our mental and physical health, yet scrolling through social media and bingeing on the latest series on Netflix always seem like the most effortless and compelling option, in contrast to doing homework or chores, right?
Well, there's an easy fix to that. If you still want to watch shows, but don't trust yourself to do so in moderation, using an app blocker that will disable your access to the platform at a specific time or specific intervals is the perfect solution. This method will ensure you're getting your daily dose of relaxation, but also your daily dose of productivity and everything else in between.
It's Time To Get A Hobby
Whether you're a streaming service addict or not, hobbies are great options to spend your free time productively. These are leisure activities that are typically engaged in for pleasure and relaxation. They provide great opportunities to de-stress (while remaining mentally productive), decrease boredom, and enhance our lives. A few of my personal hobbies include reading, learning to play the piano, swimming, journaling, and playing tennis.
"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."
- Neale Donald Walsch
Hobbies are a great way to challenge yourself, as well as expand on your existing skills, gain confidence, and stay productive in a way that is still engaging and gratifying. Additionally, they decrease time wasted, meaning our free periods are well spent on activities we enjoy and find fulfilling. There is a variety to choose from, and each person's interests are different. So, feel free to experiment with as many hobbies as you like, such as:
- Learning to play an instrument
- Learning a new language
- Making your own jewelry
- Creating your own recipes and posting them online
- Learning how to sew or knit
- Learning how to play chess or other board games
- Trying out a new sport
And the list goes on!
Swap Screen Time For Reading Time
Experts agree that adults and children should limit their screen time to less than two hours a day outside of work-related activities. However, as you may agree, this isn't really the case in most parts of the world.
According to a survey conducted in the United States in February 2021, on a daily basis, citizens spent an average of five to six hours on their screens, not including work-related uses. And in another survey conducted in Australia that same year, citizens spent about an average of 5.5 hours daily on their screens. This equates to about 33% of the time we spend awake in our lives!
Imagine if we spent that 33% reading instead? Think about all the extra knowledge, creativity, and skills we would all gain just by engaging in such a simple activity! Replacing screen time with reading time has proven to reduce eye strain, improve sleep habits, and boost brain function. Plus, reading allows us to connect and relate to characters in a book, experience adventures without even going outside, and reflect, as well as improve on, our personal lives.
"The most effective way to change habits, is to focus on who you wish to become." - James Clear
A great book I recommend to start your reading journey off with is: 'Atomic Habits' by James Clear. This book provides practical advice and tips that any person wishing to create sustainable habits and enhance the quality of their life would find useful. An absolute must-read that will leave you feeling confident in your goals and motivated to create positive change in your life.
In a world that is filled with countless possibilities just waiting to be discovered, it's important to not let ourselves get away with little distractions on the side. While taking time to relax (even if that means watching shows on Disney+ or Netflix) is essential, life is simply too short to spend it all on bingeing shows.
It's important for us to remember that maintaining a healthy balance between work and life, prioritizing goals, and spending time on appreciating the wonders that surround us are key, as well. Try your best, and you'll see you're already halfway to becoming the change you want to see in yourself.