What started as an experimental entertainment subscription ended up being an insane productivity booster.
When I subscribed to YouTube Premium, I was worried that it would become a productivity killer.
Instead, it has become a great productivity booster.
If you have been reading what I write, you must know that I am very cautious about apps and services that follow a subscription model. Yet, after a lot of pondering, I finally pulled the trigger on a YouTube Premium subscription.
My goal with the subscription was the immense time it would save me by not having to watch advertisements.
To my pleasant surprise, however, the benefits of the subscription far exceeded the mere joy of not needing to sit through another 30 seconds Clash of Clans commercial.
Let me explain how this entertainment subscription helped boost my productivity.
Obvious time saved by not watching Ads
To no one’s surprise, the most obvious benefit of YouTube Premium is the countless hours you save over the week by not watching commercials.
For videos longer than 10 minutes, YouTubers can put up as many as three 30-second advertisements. Of course, the placement of these ad slots was very strategic.
Whenever a key moment in the video arrived, there would be an “ad-break” taking away all the joy of actually savoring the moment.
If you watched all 3 ads in a 15-minute video, that’s around 1.5 minutes of watching ads. Over the course of the day, and week, you save a lot of time by skipping these ads.
The less obvious effect of ads on habit formation
Aside from occupying our precious time, advertisements have another sinister effect on our mental health and habit formation.
Google is tremendously good at showing us personalized ads. You are not only watching ads, but most probably, you are watching ads that resonate with you at some level.
It might pull data from your late-night Google searches driven by some insecurity, and pitch your products that promise to “fix your insecurity”. Google might also show you ads based on your shopping history, tempting you to reach a little deeper into your wallet.
These personalized ads linger inside your brain and when the opportunity arrives later on in the day, it might make you purchase something you will regret.
Even worse, Google’s algorithm learns and knows so much about you, that these advertisements might trigger your deepest insecurities during random times of the day.
Advertisements are so manipulative that they might play with your mind enough to distract you continuously. And of course, more distraction means less productivity more often than not.
Unique productivity content
The infinite pool of YouTube can become both a blessing and a curse — depending on how you use the app, and where you have it installed.
I have not discovered another platform like YouTube, with such a treasure trove of productivity content.
From productivity systems, to habit formation, to note-taking, to personal growth — YouTube has tons of content that can positively contribute to your self-development.
As mentioned though, such an infinity pool can become a massive distraction. Hence, you have to be mindful of how you use YouTube Premium.
One of the biggest surprises for me was the collection of focus playlists on YouTube.
These are playlists that can be as short as 30 minutes or as long as 11 hours! Uninterrupted, Lo-Fi music that helps you focus for long hours.
One of the most common ways to get into a flow state is to associate a place, activity, or tune with your focus work session.
In my case, putting on my headphones and turning on my YouTube focus playlist tells my mind that it’s time to get work done.
Sure, you can get this on Spotify or Apple Music too. However, the sheer amount of options you get on YouTube is unparalleled in my experience.
Peaceful background scenes
I get a lot of my work done in my living room. That’s where my desk setup is.
At the center of my living room, we have a 58” TV. The big black rectangular box usually screams at me to turn it on.
Previously, I always used to have some Twitch stream or something else playing, just for the sake of it.
Now, I have replaced it with some peaceful background scenes — Fireplace on a winter night, cafe vibes, library vibes, and city lights on a rainy night.
With uninterrupted playback and no ads, these scenes can get very immersive.
One of my personal favorites is to turn on one of these cozy scenes and read a book lying on the sofa while looking outside through the balcony window.
Surprisingly peaceful, this is not what I thought YouTube Premium could provide me with.
Free YouTube Music
When it comes to focused work, I always prefer the focus playlist on YouTube.
When doing less focused work, however, I do prefer some kind of music.
That’s where YouTube Music comes in. It’s the equivalent of Spotify or Apple Music. It comes free with YouTube Premium.
With music playing in the background, I can do my less focused work for larger stretches of time.
You have the world’s music catalog available, alongside other less common covers played by random YouTubers.
YouTube lets you switch between video and audio for any video. That means, even “videos” that you want to “listen to”, you can through YouTube Music.
Improved attention span
If there was one ironic benefit of using YouTube Premium, it must be this one.
Usually infinite pools — Instagram, TikTok — are known to reduce attention spans. I find YouTube to do the opposite for me.
Just as a disclaimer, I am talking about YouTube, not YouTube Shorts. I never go to the latter.
YouTube has been historically known to promote longer-form content. That’s also the type of content I prefer consuming.
After getting YouTube Premium, it also became my go-to entertainment platform. I find myself enjoying documentaries that are one to three hours long.
Even entertaining videos that I watch, tend to be 30 minutes or so.
This is a stark contrast to what Instagram Reels and TikTok promote — 15 to 30 seconds of dopamine-driven byte-sized dose that pushes you to keep scrolling and swiping through them, one after another.
By watching and consuming longer-form content, I feel like I am learning and exploring topics to a much deeper extent and letting my mind not wander about from one video to another.
I hope you found this a valuable read and have some takeaways that you can go ahead and implement in your wonderful lives.
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