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How to stop procrastinating on YouTube


YouTube is very addictive. I refuse to put it in my favourite place because it’s too easy to go there.

- By Stephen King


Do you ever find yourself watching YouTube videos that have little to do with your daily life while delaying all priorities to "do it later" time zone?




I'm talking about cat videos, world-class cooking recipes, ASMR, and even gameplay. While being informative and high quality, when was the last time you’ve utilized those skills and know-how?

You might say to yourself, ‘I’ll use them one day’. But when? In all honesty, most videos we watch aren’t important, useful, and even entertaining. They’re used for procrastination.


In 2017, YouTube announced that we watch more than 1 billion hours per day. Considering the most-watched contents are not about physics or math, it’s easy to presume how much time is wasted.


So, how do we stop procrastination on YouTube? Is there a way to prevent its’ endless rabbit hole that always seems to end up on K-pop and foreign shows?

To compartmentalize this problem, we must first look at science and figure out why we procrastinate.



Bad genes


No, you’re not lazy or hopeless.

The first thing we must accept is the harsh reality of biology. Some readers might not like this fact, but some of us are born with greater tendency of procrastination than others. By scanning your amygdala with MRI, research suggests that individuals differ in their ability to initiate self- and emotional-control mechanisms. Simply speaking, Sarah might have a better chance of self-control than John because of her genes.

This doesn’t mean you’re not responsible for your actions! It just means you might have a harder time controlling your goal-oriented actions than others. The key here is self-acceptance, not making excuses.


Furthermore, behavioral genetic studies reinforces this theory. To make us feel all better about our decision for eating a cookie at 11 PM, the studies suggest that procrastination and impulsivity are linked with your genes.

What’s our next move? Should we just give up?

Of course not!


Now we know that decks are stacked against us, we should be able to find loopholes and tricks in the system. I mean... just because some of us got an unlucky draw, we shouldn’t just quit journaling and crawl into a hole.

Tools

Before we get into the actual brain hacks, get to know these tools to analyze your time on YouTube and put a stop on it.

  1. IPhone's screen time restriction for YouTube (FREE)

  2. Block YouTube for mac and window desktops (FREE)

  3. Android alternative

Methods


1. Reset the Brain


Reset your brain when you feel the urge to watch the next one. This can be done by closing your eyes and counting down from 5 to 0.


Habitual reactions are partly embedded in a deep part of the brain called the basal ganglia. The five-second countdown helps shift from the embedded pattern, which has previously been rewarded in some way (videos), to help engage our prefrontal cortex, which can guide us to an alternative behaviour.


However, this method won’t always work on the first try. You’re likely destined to face internal resistance to completely turn the thinking around. If it doesn’t work, try again. If you have auto-play turned on, please turn it off to make things more difficult.


Countdown from 5 and imagine resetting your brain. The better you become at this, it’ll influence other parts of your life.


2. 5 minute rule


James Clear, the author of the best-seller book, Atomic Habit, said you shouldn’t focus too much on setting goals, but the smallest wins to naturally push you onward. If you’re watching a cat video on YouTube, but need to study or get some work done-

  • Set out to do just 5 minutes.

  • Once you get started, that 5 minutes could extend to 30 minutes or an hour.

  • If you don’t feel like doing more, just stop and do it at another time.

  • You’ve still done more than 0.


One of my favourite brain hacks.

3. Replace the boredom and anxiety

Replace. Replace. Replace.


We can’t stress this enough. Most YouTube procrastination happens not because you’re truly interested in the content, but you want to fill the boredom and don’t want to cope with the stress that comes with productive activities.


Some say just push it through...but we disagree.

Instead of always working, fill that time with something that doesn’t involve your phone or a computer. Play basketball, meet your friends for a hike, or any other activities that can stimulate the brain. Dopamine and happiness chemicals come from a variety of things.


You may also watch a video while doing something productive, like cleaning your room.



Have more time than others


"Lost time is never found again."

– Benjamin Franklin.


You don’t have to stop watching YouTube nor will it be easy to break away from it. You should aim to do this slowly with the smallest step possible. Let’s recap.

  • Prepare tools to track and stop your YouTube binge.

  • Use the 5-minute rule to reset the brain and break everything down to small wins.

  • Replace boredom and anxiety with an activity.

On average, people spend a couple hours a day watching videos online. If you can half that, you’ll have at least 5-10 extra hours a week compared to your peers.


That is an amazing progress. If you agree, Share this article!


PS: If you need help with breaking bad habits, follow our FREE neuroscience app, braintingle. We'll keep you updated with free brain hacks and recommend real-life solutions.

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