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How I Stopped Watching YouTube and Tripled My Productivity

Somebody holds a smartphone with a YouTube icon in it

Social media is a double edge for creators – we can publish our content there and grow, but it’s also where we tend to waste most of our time as consumers. Those who work from home are also prone to this issue, and so those who want to get ahead with their side hustle but waste their time on watching YouTube instead.

Social media is trickier to stop than TV 1, for example, as it’s on your phone, desktop, and everywhere. You can’t just stay away from your screen and move on. The stimuli are also more sophisticated as you can engage and react to the content.

Within social media, YouTube is the boss of all bosses. It provides exciting long-form videos that draw your attention longer than Instagram reels or TikTok videos.

As a beginner YouTube creator, I watched videos of other creators, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and productivity channels to improve my skills as a creator. I also watch chess videos, as it’s one of my hobbies.

Recently, YouTube has become the number one distraction in my life. I work from home, so opening the YouTube homepage and watching some videos is tempting. It started during my lunchtime or breaks from work, but it quickly entered my work time too. Then, I realized I had to do something about it.

Read on to see the steps I’ve taken to stop watching YouTube videos and regain my time.

Disclaimer : The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only, and it is not a substitue for professional advice. The article may contain affiliate links. See the full disclaimer for more details.

How to Stop Watching YouTube

So, I explored different tips online and tried several productivity apps to get my time back and be more productive. As a result, I now publish two to three long-form blog posts a week, while before my transition, I hardly published once a week

This is how I detached myself from binging YouTube videos and saved my time for what I wanted to do – creating content:

Listening to podcasts instead

An ilustration of a microphon and colorful sound vibes

While on YouTube, you need to pay more attention as you watch the screen. However, you don’t need to when listening to podcasts – productivity, self-improvment, marketing, creators you have everything on podcasts today. The kicker is that, unlike YouTube videos, you can listen to podcasts while you cook, jog, or walk in the park. This way you don’t hurt your working time and consume content only during other errands.

Another option to not waste your time watching videos is listening to them without watching them. Yes, that’s right. You are just listening to the messages and tips in the video. That works perfectly fine for me as long as it’s an educational video. As for entertaining videos, that’s less applicable. I mostly watch educational videos like Ali Abdaal, Income School, Jordan Peterson, Eckhart Tolle, and more.

Removing all the YouTube shortcuts on Your PC and mobile devices

You’ll be surprised how simply removing YouTube shortcuts and bookmarks from your devices can help you have free time to create. I don’t mean specific videos you bookmark but the main shortcut to the YouTube web. I watch videos on my PC more, but if you find yourself watching videos on your mobile, delete the app if possible, and if not, at least remove its shortcut on your home page.

This makes the bad habit of watching too many YouTube videos less available. That idea is nothing new – it’s a simple application of James Clear’s “Atomic Habits” book (Amazon). As simple as this hack is, it helped me tremendously reduce my watching time on YouTube. I still watch videos here and there when I finish work and have some free time to burn. I also watch videos when I need to for my project or some issue in my day. But that’s it. I no longer let the YouTube algorithm drain my energy for content creation and other things I want to do in my life!

If removing the shortcuts to YouTube doesn’t work, you may consider signing out from your YouTube account. This measure makes watching your favorite channels even harder, as even if you can’t stop yourself and enter the platform, the YouTube feed will pop up irrelevant content. That way, you’ll need to search for your videos and channels manually, and you’ll get more time to stop and get back to work.

Using browser blocking tools and productivity apps

Screenshot of LeechBlock Chrome extension blocking a specific website

Another way to stop wasting your time watching YouTube is to use tools to block your access to YouTube. In your browser, you can use extensions like LeechBlock on Chrome. This extension gives you control over which sites to stop and when, and it’s a FREE, open-source extension.

Now this feature is even better than removing your shortcuts. First, it’s not avoiding YouTube entirely. Sometimes we need to watch specific videos. Instead, you get control over your day by limiting your watch time to breaks or after work hours only.

Screenshot of LeechBlock Chrome extension site block preferrences

This way, you can get control over your working-from-home day and still enjoy watching videos. That is a better approach to quitting addictions long term as you don’t go against your will but limit it to only some parts of your day.

On mobile, you can use productivity apps like “Stay Focused.” It’s better than its competitors – to the time of writing these word, you can get up to 14 app blocks for free, compared to only three on “Appblock” (the most popular blocker app). You can also block several websites you want to avoid in the browser.

As you can see in my screenshots below, there is the main block dashboard in which you can block up to five apps. Next there are another two profiles in which one allow you to block five additional apps and on the other profile up to four more apps, comprising 14 apps overall. That’s a lot for a free version! If you want to block more apps you need to upgrade to their pro version.

In the both versions you can choose the days, and the hours you want to block for each app and profile, decide on the blocking method (usage limite, number of launches and so on), and also customize the motivation message when the app is blocked. That’s cool. I stayed with their default message.

“Stay Focused” has tremendously helped me stay off YouTube and other social media apps I used to check regularly, like Instagram, Facebook, and, more importantly, my creator stats on YouTube Studio, Medium, and Google Analytics.

These apps have saved me so much time! Now I have way more time to work on my blog and channel. That’s not to say the distraction is gone. When we kill one distraction, another one will likely snick in when trying to concentrate. For example, I used to play rapid chess online as a distraction from my work until I found my way out.

This is precisely why, to stop watching YouTube and other social media videos, you need also figure out a way to dive more naturally into creating your content.

Forcing Yourself to start creating

If you know how to force yourself to start writing or shooting that video, then the distraction will be less likely to draw your attention. I realized that it’s not always that YouTube grabbed my attention but that it was hard for me to start projects, even those I love!

The big thing on that front is finding what works for you – think about how to force yourself to start your project. That could be placing that new article Word document or, your following video project file, in the middle of your desktop. This little trick make the starting act easier, and when I’m immersed into my workflow I become less ditracted.

If, after the starting phase, you still fail to keep creating the content or being productive at work, then you want to hold it and reevaluate your passion for the project.

Making what You do more fun

Lights artwork of the text - work and play - and vertical  green lines in the background

Sometimes forcing yourself to be self-disciplined does not work, and that’s fine. It happened many times, even after following my work energy and blocking distractions like YouTube.

If you don’t find your work interesting or exciting enough, you may want to consider changes in the work. That doesn’t mean quitting what you do to find your passion elsewhere. What it means is making what you do more fun.

Befriend the project. If it’s blogging, you can first try to write more about things relevant to you today – a specific problem you are trying to solve, a new hobby, or whatever aligns with your niche. If it’s creating videos, then try to see what videos you enjoy more or what part of the creation you prefer – shooting the video, editing, thumbnails, copy, and so on, and then delegate some of it to Fiverr freelancers or higher quality professionals when you could afford it.

Changing your work mindset can help you detach yourself from watching YouTube and focus on your work. You can treat your work as a game 2 – a journey when you try things and enjoy seeing your progress and what works for your character better. That approach is less heavy than “working” or “creating,” and you get rewards by paying attention to your progress.

Trying to find meaning in what you do

Finally, there is a sense of purpose in what we do. If you lack that, it’s a problem to become productive whether you are an employee working from home or your it is your side hustle. If you find your projects tedious and see no point in working on them, try to find meaning – first in these projects, and if not, outwork. Pay attention to what makes you feel proud and meaningful. If you can’t, consider finding other activities along your main job or pivoting your side hustle to another niche or platform.

When I started to publish chess tutorials on my YouTube channel, I realized I didn’t want my channel to be only on that. I didn’t find meaning in educating chess tips and opening guides. So therefore, I pivoted into catering more tips on side hustling and self-discovery – things I cover on my blog anyways. That gave me meaning to my work and less distraction in my day, like binging YouTube videos.

So, try to pivot your position or niche if you find yourself distracted too much in your work. If your primary job distracts you, consider starting a new hobby or other activities after work hours to bring you back the spark. You can also spend more time on self-discovery, journaling your ideas and thoughts, and finding what may bring more meaning to your life.

Final Thoughts

Binging YouTube videos is a big deal for millions across the U.S. and the entire world. Watching just for a couple of minutes can quickly wind up in binging videos for hours. Unfortunately, the algorithm is best at clinging you to the screen. But there is hope. It’s possible to overcome this sort of YouTube addiction.

I outlined simple steps that helped me be more productive and to free my time for meaningful activities. It’s not rocket science. Just use the productivity tools to detach yourself from YouTube and find ways to engage more with what you do. I hope these techniques will inspire you to quit watching YouTube and be more productive on your remote work or side hustle!

  1. This is Why I’ve Stopped Watching TV, published on Medium.com[]
  2. Gamification at Work, businessnewsdaily.com[]