Binge-Watching: Problem or Productivity Tool?

Confession: I’m a binge-watcher of TV shows. Not all shows, and not all the time, but still… I binge. My husband can’t stand to, so I do it on my own. If I am really excited about a show, I can sit and watch hours and hours of it over a day or two. I enjoy doing it that way, or at least, I think I must because I keep doing it. In fact, sometimes, I’ll schedule an entire week’s schedule around the release of an entire new season of a favorite show.

Even though I really look forward to a new show or season coming, I have mixed feelings about Binge-Watching, and I bet many others do, too. People will argue it’s addictive (which is rarely a good thing), or that it can be a way to disregard important or meaningful ways of spending that time. I get it. Those can both be true.

I’m here to non-scientifically, and self-servingly, advocate for:

Why Binge Watching Isn’t So Bad, and Can Even Make You More Productive!” 

 

couple watching tv  - Binge watching is a productivity tool

 

Why do I think that Binge-Watching can be a Productivity Tool, for me:

  • I used to watch more TV, but binge-watching (and my DVR) has allowed me to not use the TV as a procrastination weapon on most days. When I don’t binge-watch, I always have a show around that gives me an excuse to blow off some other some other task, waste 30 or 60 more minutes on something that probably isn’t more important than what I *should* be doing at the moment. 

  • I can sometimes get things done while watching TV, especially mindless, low-brain activity like folding laundry or sorting through a pile that doesn’t require a lot of decision-making

  • My memory isn’t always good enough to remember what happened in a show I watched a week ago, so this is a more efficient way of getting the entertainment value out of it.

  • “Checking Out” of my busy life can help me de-stress and refocus later on.

 

So, how do you make (or, um, justify) Binge-Watching as a Productivity Tool, for you? How do you binge watch, but still make it good, or, at least, not-so-bad for you?

  • Keep it for “special” shows. Not every show needs to be elevated to binge-worthiness. Be critical about what you let into this sacred time.

  • Schedule it, where you block out a specific day and time, be sure it is not taking up time that is critical for another activity, and set time limits that are reasonable for your life. 

  • Get a binge-watching buddy that will help you limit how deep you go in one sitting. Pick someone you’d genuinely feel some shame if you either watched beyond where that person watched or lied about what you watched. Let’s call this buddy your Binge-Watching-Moral-Compass. You and your buddy will set the time and number of episodes to which you both promise to adhere. Choose wisely.

  • Make a to-do list, and use binge-watching as a reward or as a pacing for getting other things done, especially those things you have little motivation to do. “I’ll watch an episode and then do all the dishes before watching another one.” Allow for 10-15 minute breaks between episodes to get concentrated work done.

  • Find the “mindless” tasks on the to-do list that you can do while watching, and get those done, too. This can include administrative stuff like paying your bills or cleaning out a drawer or folding laundry, or something more active, like watching only while on the treadmill. 

  • Don’t let this habit be a gateway for other (bad) habits. Remind yourself it’s not an excuse to eat food you know you shouldn’t be eating, or for letting your tv-watching area get messy. Give yourself some rules about how to limit the downside of splurging on this time. 

 

Yes, I know… many of you doubters will say, “Okay, Clever Girl… You keep telling yourself that.” But if you’re a binge-watcher, and want to find a way to be a little bit better, pick one of those items and help your time be more productive, not just entertaining! 

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17 Comments

  1. Hazel Thornton

    I knew I loved you, Kathy! I, too, have blogged about the pleasures, justifications, and organizing of TV habits! “Binge-Watching-Moral-Compass”, lol! Happy House of Cards Day!

    Reply
    • clevergirlorg

      You’re the introverted Yin to my extroverted Yang, Hazel! I’d be a bad choice for a Binge-Watching-Moral-Compass for you or anyone else, though… I’m not nearly disciplined enough in this area to be a pillar of strength! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Ellen Delap

    Love the ways we find to rejuvenate!

    Reply
    • clevergirlorg

      I know! Amazing how diving into something in a really intense way can actually be liberating!

      Reply
  3. Zack

    Haha… no spoilers during our meeting next week 😉

    Reply
    • clevergirlorg

      I may not be a good Binge-watching-moral-compass, but I would never DREAM of breaking the No-Spoilers code of Binge-Watchers! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Janet Barclay

    We got into binge watching (but didn’t realize it had a name) when we started borrowing TV seasons on DVD from the library. You can only keep them for a week, so you really don’t have a choice! I think we saw the entire Gilmore Girls series within six months.

    Reply
    • clevergirlorg

      The Gilmore Girls is an EXCELLENT candidate for binge-watching! Getting that done in 6 months is not only a great commitment, but you really filled half a year with a constant flow of great writing and laughter! That’s how ya do it!

      Reply
  5. Seana Turner

    For me it is more of a productivity thing because I don’t typically enjoy silence. When my husband is traveling for business (which is often!), I like putting on the next episode in the series and working on VBS decorations or cross stitching or something. I find it calming. That said, I never really do this during the daytime, only as a way to relax in the evening.

    Reply
    • clevergirlorg

      I love this! I think I can focus more without noise (I must, because I go into quiet-house-mode when I want to buckle down), but if I’m not focused, background noise helps for me, too. I think as long as I’m not watching something that requires constant attention, the background noise can help productivity for sure! Thanks for chiming in!

      Reply
  6. Sara Skillen

    Oh this is awesome…I’ve done so many things while binge-watching (I also binge-listen to podcasts) like cleaning out my purse, folding towels, separating paperwork. Plus, no commercials – I figure that saves me at least 2-3 hours per season!

    Reply
    • clevergirlorg

      Such great examples of the mindless work you can do! Thanks, Sara!

      Reply
  7. Julie Stobbe

    I binge watch for relaxation. It actually cuts my TV watching at other times of the week so I can be more productive and then when I have down time I can relax. I also use it to do mindless stuff too. It helps me to get the mindless stuff completed.

    Reply
    • clevergirlorg

      I find the same thing, Julie — I get TV’ed out, and then have much less TV watching time during the rest of the week or month! Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  8. Debbie Pendell

    Way to elevate the conversation!Watching multiple episodes of one program equals “binge-watching,” right? Watching multiple programs all in one evening equals __________. Well, whatever it is called, it’s considered more acceptable, right? I don’t see the difference. 🙂 Also, I think binge-watching is stress reducing because when you watch an episode that is a cliff-hanger, you get to quickly move on to the happy ending. So, I’m with you; I’d rather binge-watch!

    Reply
  9. Old Bob

    I have found that I binge quite often. There are so many good choices. I even go back to older shows and enjoy some that people have been raving about for years. My name is Bob, and I’m a binge-aholic.
    Where many shows it is possible to have it on almost in the background, shows like “House of Cards” requires too much paying attention to do much of anything else. I compare it to watching a hockey game: if you don’t sit and watch intently, you will miss something. I can fold laundry, and maybe clean up a little, but writing out bills? Not gonna happen!
    Great article! Thank you, Clever Girl.

    Reply
    • clevergirlorg

      Thanks for sharing, “Old Bob” 🙂 I love the idea of heading back to catch up on shows people have been raving about, but you’d missed. I did that with “The Wire,” and regretted waiting as long as I did, as the technology that factored into their storylines is so outdated now. But there are other shows I’ve never watched that I hope to at some point, and will do my best to work it into my “use as motivation” tool!

      Reply

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