How I Successfully Overcame My Netflix Addiction
And added more hours to my day
I was just out of a failed business. All consumed by it for the last three years, I decided I needed time to unwind. I put my feet up for a while. Before I knew it, ‘a while’ soon transformed into long hours.
Right after the morning rush was over, I would be on my couch with my mobile. A brief break would easily become a long one. Though I would think of stopping and doing something else, I would end up in the elusive cycle of one-more-episode. And in some days I would finish a whole series.
But somewhere late in the day, I felt guilty to have wasted away the full day, when I could have done so many things. I would decide that I would not repeat it the next day, just to land myself in the same boat again.
Making the decision
The first step to removing any addiction — substance or behavioral, is to acknowledge the problem. Understanding the issue will help better in setting the goal one wants to reach.
Most people commit the mistake of eliminating the addiction the moment they realize they are in one. A person with an eating disorder would throw away every junk item from the kitchen. An alcoholic would suddenly stop drinking. But the problem with this approach is that the abstinence continues for a short period, but then it crashes hard after some time. The better approach is to make the change gradual by setting measurable and achievable milestones.
So, instead of deleting the Netflix app and account, I started conditioning my mind away from it.
Taking the steps
Now that I was aware of my problem, I set out on my journey to a more not-so-Netflixy life. My initial step was to quantify my problem so that I have a good measure of it.
I took a note of the time I spent watching Netflix. It stood at a whopping 8 to 9 hours! It’s like being in a job, just that I was not getting paid. On the contrary, I was paying.
That was the starting point. I pulled up my socks and started changing things here and there to get rid of this time waster.
1. Use poison to kill poison
As I was hunting for an app to track my screen time, I stumbled upon the Moment app. God bless the inventor of the app. The app is a work of wonder and the need of the hour. With everyone shrinking within the space of their mobile screens, the world needs such saviors.
The app not only tracks the usage of your phone, but it also lets you set limits on that usage and pokes you when you are nearing those limits. It is a mobile detox coach that helps you in this journey from tuning out to tuning in as the app claims. I created a group of five friends, and there was a healthy competition of flaunting our results to each other. That made it easier because each one was pulling each other up.
I owe my more-productive today(s) to Moment.
So, after all that education, all that ability, I want to do this?
After 10 years, am I going to be happy of the fact that I used up my days in watching series after series?
The people I am watching on the screen are working really hard to create that content, what am I doing?
Am I okay feeling the pain of repentance that I wasted my time when I could have done so many things?
What is my daughter learning from me? Am I setting the right example?
Who else can ask you such blatant questions other than you yourself? Self-talk is the conversation you have with yourself. I used this tool to steer me away from this addiction.
Every time I picked up my mobile, I consciously started talking to myself about what I am doing and what I can do. And the times when I had actually put down my phone were the manifestations of recovery.
I went a step further and put a stick-note on my fridge.
I am stronger than that. I want to set the right example.
It served as a gentle reminder of where I want to head- sort of repeating to myself that I am in control of things here. Not the other way around. And each time I am successful at putting away the mobile, I take some time to applaud myself and pat myself for taking control.
3. Choose another passion
I tried my hands on several things — trading stocks, enrolling for new classes, painting, but none of them could keep me hooked on to it. And then I tried writing, and I found salvation.
I could keep writing for hours and never even think of watching as a break. I was on a different high. The wrong tense — still am.
The mind needs something to cling to. Finding that one thing in which it finds more pleasure in doing is the key. As long as the other thing has productive results, else it becomes like one poison to another.
4. Using the same device, but for a different purpose
In the days when I was all engrossed in binge-watching, I would usually avoid taking calls. I also postponed calling friends and families. I was almost going into a shell of my own. The only thing I would think of is what is going to happen next in the story I was watching.
I made a mental note of all my friends and families I haven’t called for long. And each day, I would make a point of calling at least one person.
I observed that as I continued doing this, I felt more connected with things around me. The conversations would range from pets, office issues, love, gardening, passion, gossips, business ventures, marriages, celebrations — in short, anything and everything that happens in normal human life.
But, as I kept talking to people, I also started introspecting. I was inspired by what so many of them are doing. Hearing other’s problems, I was experiencing a sense of gratitude for all that I have in my life. There were so many ideas that popped into my mind. I was getting back to my own self.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day.
The difference is how to use those 24 hours. Because time is the most precious resource in life, not even the wealthiest can buy an extra microsecond.
Making use of my day and going to bed with the satisfaction that I have garnered something more today; that keeps me motivated. I have inched towards being a better me.