Digital Minimalism 4: Video Streaming

Picture this: It’s been a long day and you are exhausted, physically and mentally. You just want to kick back and relax with some good content to watch. A lot of times we prefer watching videos instead of reading or gaming because those two take up some mental resources whereas videos can be watched passively.

We are living in an age where we can watch (almost) any movie or show ever made, from the comfort of our homes. I like these subscription based services that provide good content for a decent monthly fee. Who doesn’t, right? Probably people who enjoy collecting DVDs and BluRays and such. But even those folks agree that it’s more convenient to stream it than to fiddle with their systems and subject their favorite physical media to wear and tear. Couple that with the affordable rates of broadband and mobile internet, almost everybody has at least one video streaming service for regular use. But there are some problems with the way these apps are designed which make them not-so-great for digital minimalism. There is such a thing as too much content and hence, the decision paralysis.

This is a problem that is innate to us, we keep thinking if we could be having a better experience in all circumstances. Whether the grass is greener on the other side. It often is, but that’s never worth wasting time fantasizing when you could enjoy what you have, right now.

All the video streaming services have a home page filled with recommendations, best of lists, trending and such. They will often not display my currently watching videos first, but show something I “May Like”. I often end up wasting so much time thinking what to watch, that I don’t watch anything at all. So I had to try some techniques. The point is to minimize the time spent in decision making and just pick something to watch.

Limit Time Spent in Research:

Set aside fixed time for research; say 15 minutes at best, or an hour on a weekend. Use websites that rate content. I use Goodreads for books, Myanimelist for manga and anime, and Mydramalist for drama series, especially Korean. For movies, check out IMDB and Rottentomatoes. Look up top ten lists, audience/critics reviews and decide what to watch. I often go the old-school route, asking friends and family for recommendations. I make lists pertaining to games, movies and books that I would like to try next, sorted by genres. Even If I scroll on a homepage at times, if the synopsis interests me, I will start watching. If it’s bad, I can quit in the middle and move on. It’s always better to have watched something (even if it’s bad) instead of just scrolling and watching nothing. A good way to judge whether I am enjoying content is the first half hour of a movie or the first 2-3 episodes of a show.

Sort Lists By Mood

I categorize what-to-watch lists by two main categories: casual slow paced content and serious fast paced content. So when I have free time, I can choose quickly. I try to keep just one series in these two categories to choose quicker.

Use Downloads and Watch Lists:

Use the downloads feature on your streaming service of choice. Then, just turn off internet and watch what you have. hence avoiding the scrolling entirely! For YouTube, some kinds of videos require a paid subscription to download. In that case, I make use of watch later to save videos I think might be interesting. Also, there are many playlists created by the channels and other viewers that you can save to your library to enjoy later.

What worked for you? Do you use another way to minimize scrolling and maximize watching? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

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