Just one more episode and I’m done, I promise….Four hours later…just one more and I will take out the trash. How many times has something similar happened to you? In this day and age, I think we are all guilty of turning on Netflix and losing ourselves for hours.

What frustrates most people afterwards if the realization that those hours could have turned into productive hours to get things done. I am not saying plopping down on the couch and watching some Netflix is a bad thing, but doing it every day and on the weekends not the best use of time. This post is meant to help you realize how much time you spend being productive versus not (i.e. Binging on Netflix).

Don’t lie. This exercise is meant to make you a more productive person. The only way to better yourself and be more productive is to be honest.

1. List Out all your To-Do’s

Do this on Sunday Night. This can be on a piece of paper, a napkin, your phone or on your todo application. Make sure you keep track of your todo list throughout the week by adding more things, checking things as being complete or deleting things that don’t need to be done. Creating a robust todo list that has everything you need or want to do in that given week will be important. For best results, list out how long you think it will take you to complete your todo’s.

To make a more accurate estimation of time to completion, take the time you think it will take and add 20%. For example, if I say something will take me an hour, I just write down 1.25 hours.

Note: Many people like to keep track of the time it takes them to complete a project or task. This detail is not necessary for this guide, but is great practice in helping you become more productive.

2. Create Your ‘I Want To’ List

Do you want to learn a new skill that will help you at your job or life? Or do you just want to start a new habit, for the better? Maybe this week you want to start reading a book for 30 minutes every night before bed. Or, maybe you want to start learning how to code so you can take the next step in your career. These are just a couple of examples, but the possibilities are endless.

Let’s call this your ‘I Want To’ List…

Take note of how long you would like to spend doing these things. For example, if you want to start learning how to code, write down 1.5 hours a day or 7.5 hours for the week (taking 2 days off). As the week goes on, log the number of hours per day you spend on these items.

3. Take Note of Everything You Watch

Over the course of a week, write down everything you watch, be it Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc. Note the length of the video you watched. If it was a TV Show, note how many episodes you watch and the average time per episode (i.e. 21 Minutes). This may be a little difficult if you are binge watching YouTube videos, but just take an estimate. It is important to know what you watched and for how long. When completed, add up all the time spent and highlight it at the bottom of your list. An example is shown below:

As stated in the beginning of this post, don’t lie. Lying only hurts yourself and you won’t get much out of this exercise. People don’t want to admit how often or how little they do something, but that is the first step to improving yourself.

4. Mark Each Video as Productive or Non-Productive

There is video content you can consume that is considered productive. There is a lot of educational content on the internet. Be it documentaries, how to do something, skills videos, etc. Below is a simple criteria on how I classify my video watching. Feel free to add or change.

Take note of the number of hours that were productive vs non-productive video time.

At the end of the Week…

Now that you have made it through an entire week of tracking your time doing your tasks, watching video and doing things you want to, it is time to assess it.

5. Check Your Video Time

As stated in the previous steps, you want to know how much time was spent watching videos in general. Then, how much of that was productive vs non-productive. Add up the hours and make note of it.

6. Check Your To-Do List

Check back on your todo list. Did you get everything completed? If you did, great! You can manage binge watching videos while still getting everything done! If you didn’t complete everything, mark how long you think your uncompleted todo’s will take you to complete. Again, add the 20% rule for a good estimation.

Now, add up all the times and compare it against how much Non-Productive video content you consumed. If you needed an extra 8 hours to complete your todo list this week and you watched 18 hours of non-productive video, then you are net negative, which is a bad thing. If you needed an extra 8 hours to complete your tasks, but watched only 2 hours of non-productive content this week, you’re in pretty good shape. Maybe you are just overloaded at work or in personal life and didn’t get around to something. It is not your Netflix ‘Binge’ that is stopping you. Even if you’re in the ‘positive’ you may want to reduce the number of hours you spend watching non-productive content.

7. Check your ‘I Want To’ List

If you were persistent throughout the week, you will have noted all the time you spent on your ‘I Want To’ list. A good gauge here is if your time spent on your ‘I Want To’ list is greater than your Non-Productive video consumption, then you are in good shape. For instance, if you spent a total of 10 hours on reading your book and learning coding and only 5 hours on Netflix, that is good. The idea here is to make sure your productive hours are greater than your non-productive hours. As you move forward, the bigger the gap between these two numbers, the better. Over time, if you really enjoy the things on your ‘I Want To’ List, the gap will naturally increase.

8. Keep Doing This Exercise

This post was not intended to tell you ‘Just put down the remote’. Anyone can say that, but they can’t make you do it. This exercise is meant to make you aware and to improve yourself and internally you will stop watching so much non-productive content and be more productive by learning or getting things done. When people become more aware of what they are doing, they will take action to correct it (if it is a bad thing) or keep improving (a good thing).

To be successful, keep doing this on a weekly basis and assessing your time allocation. When you start, do it on a daily basis. This way you can try and make incremental improvements everyday which will lead to more productive weeks. Don’t let this exercise extend longer than a week, the less feedback you have and the less likely you are to keep track.

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