It was supposed to be amazing watching whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted, wherever you wanted. This is partly still true and partly not true and we would argue more of it not being true unless managed appropriately. What we hope to show you is that even with more media options available to us, we still have the same time constraints as before and we may not want to spend more time watching more media. The other point we want to make is your queues and wish lists are like inboxes. The more of them we have, the more we have to manage, and the more possibility for them to get out of control and cause more stress and anxiety. But wait! Isn’t this supposed to be a good thing? Is this not supposed to be fun and everything we envisioned? It can be, but without boundaries, your media, queues, and wish lists will own you instead of complementing your commitments and enjoyment. Let’s dive in!
The Same 24 Hours- While more media options at your disposal should be looked at as a good thing, the choices and options may have increased but the time we have in a day stayed the same. We didn’t gain an extra hour in the day. Now you could argue the way we consume media has changed and the places we did not normally consume media we can and do now, but this still does not give you more time to view the media and even if it does in theory, it is at the expense of others or of something else you could be doing. We go for the path of least resistance and instead of making a phone call, really connecting with someone, reading a book, we instead scroll social media or watch videos/movies. Again there is a time and place for this and we are not against watching a movie for instance on a plane ride or waiting for something by yourself, but you could be doing other, more valuable things with your time.
Inboxes and More inboxes- We didn’t like cable because there was too many choices and if we only watched a few channels, it felt like we were paying money for something we weren’t using. Enter streaming services and watch lists and while there may have been the same or even less content to watch, the fact that you could watch it whenever you wanted made it seem endless. In Getting Things Done (GTD for short) a wish list or queue would be considered an inbox that needs to be reviewed and maintained/updated regularly. This also requires work and time. When one streaming service did not offer everything, you added another one, and another one. Now we are back to the cable problem, except we can watch almost anything when we want too. These inboxes are stressful and do not take into account your time at all. All of these involves us making choices which leads us to the next point.
There Are So Many Choices- 10 items in your queue or wish list? 20? 30? 100??? Everyone of these items on those lists is a little commitment you made at one time. Unless you have the time to keep up or manage your lists, they are only going to grow bigger which can then lead to stress. Has this happened to you where you spend more time figuring out what to watch than actually watching? If you are going to add something to your list, you need to have a plan or set some boundaries. Now this sounds like we are suggesting to take the fun out of something that is supposed to not tax your brain. We would argue that it is actually hurting your enjoyment and causing you unneeded stress and being wasteful with your time. Everyone’s list will look a little different because of their time available, priorities, and commitments, but in our opinion, this is an area where less is better.
So What is the Solution?- One of the core books that we like to refer to is Essentialism by Greg McKeown. In his book he talks about if it is not a definitive yes or a 9 out of 10 choice or option, it needs to go. The same can be said for all of our queues and wish lists. Now there is something in GTD terms called a someday maybe list. This is the perfect kind of place to park things that you want to remember, but may or may not use. This is a seperate list from your main list to help you to be able to make better decisions and know what is most important. If you can make multiple lists, this might be a way to help make it easier for you to make choices. Another idea is to put everything into one place or system. For instance all items you want go into Evernote or any movie or media piece over 15 or 30 minutes goes into your to do list.
Personal Example- That last point has been a big shift for me. Podcasts and YouTube were my downfall. My lists would always grow or I could get them down and feel great only to have them go back up and then be disaapointed. What I have started doing is besides cutting back on what I watch or listen to, If a video is over 20 minutes it goes into my to do list. Same with a podcast or maybe a movie I want to watch. This may sound very rigid, but if you are trying to cut down stress and be intentional with your time, this is a big step towards that direction.
Are we saying you can never have lists or use queues ever again? Or that you have to document everything you want to watch or consume? No we are not. What we are trying to say is the way we consume media is different now. We need to treat it differently. For those that remember back in the day (before DVR was widespread), if a show was on TV, you just watched whatever was on. If it was something you really wanted to see, you planned the time to watch it. Now, with most things being released all at once, you could spend hours you did not mean to spend doing things that are not the highest prority for you. Just because the media is there does not mean we need to watch it. In fact it will still be there. We can watch it whenever, wherever we want. This should give us peace of mind, but media compaines know that we have a hard time saying no to these things. To sum up our point because it is two fold.
- What it comes to media and things to consume, take a step back to see how you can fit it into your schedule and if it is really the best use of your time. If you think it is and you can fit it into your schedule, do it!
- Not just with your media, but wish lists, things you want to buy, we have so many more things going on than we did before that we need to do one of two things. Either we need to have a trusted system to place all of these things and then review it or we need to bring less items into the system to make it easier to manage.
We hope this got you thinking about how you consume and manage your lists, queues, and digital tendencies. The internet makes the promise of you can save everything and have the time for everything very appealing. The hard truth is that you can’t and the sooner you come to that realization, the happeier and less stressed you will be. If you don’t feel that stress now, it may be uncoinsicably there and you have to take steps to reveal it. We promise this is for the better and you will make better uses of your time because of it!