I am convinced that streaming media is the enemy of spiritual and material productivity. Netflix (and companies like it) makes procrastination as easy as not getting up from that couch during that eight-second countdown between episodes! While I do think there is a moral issue at play here (discussed in this post on godly media choices) today I plan to discuss [productive alternatives to Netflix to keep you on track with your goals.

Netflix is a Bad Friend

Netflix is not your friend. It’s not always your enemy, either, but it’s certainly not the friend of productivity. Whether you’re a student, working woman, or a stay at home mom, streaming media’s availability means you’ll have to be very intentional with how you use it. Television is appealing because it requires little mental engagement on our part. We perceive it as a “break” from our work, but when poorly used Netflix actually adds to the stress of our schedules.

This doesn’t mean you get rid of your TV (though there are big benefits to that). What it does mean is that your TV time becomes extremely intentional. Here are five things to do instead of watching Netflix the next time it calls your name:

Tackle a Nagging Task

You read that right: instead of flipping to Person of Interest like I’d like to do most days, tackle a task you’ve been putting off. This is counterintuitive and you probably won’t want to do it, but remind yourself how much better you will feel when that task is done!

To choose a task over Netflix, you have to get inside your own head and “preach the truth” to yourself:

  • Mind: I have time for one episode. I can call the insurance company later.
  • Truth: Actually, that’s not true. The baby is napping NOW. If you don’t call now, you won’t have time for the rest of the day.

It’s important to discern what your thoughts are telling you and be in command of your emotions and actions. Your feelings do not run you; you run your feelings. Much of productivity is saying NO to what your flesh wants and saying YES to the hard thing, which gets easier once you take that next step. Plus it’s always worth it, because you feel so much better when that task is done – and Netflix after hard work is much more rewarding!

Read a Book

Finding time to read with a toddler has proven a challenge in my home, and yet I’m often tempted to turn on the TV in times when I could be reading. Make this easier by putting away the remotes and stacking your books in plain sight.

Pair your favorite snack or drink with the book of choice. If you’re not excited about reading anything right now, find a new book! Get recommendations from my personal favorite book blogger, Modern Mrs. Darcy.

Listen to a Podcast

This is my favorite alternative to Netflix. This is especially great for stay- or work-at-home moms. Growing up in a large, boisterous family followed by ten years in the workforce makes my quiet home feel too quiet many days. The TV appeals to me because the sound of human voices is comforting. Rather than run Netflix, I’ll play one of the many podcasts I follow (Happier, God Centered Mom, Ask Pastor John, At Home, etc.).

Podcasts are a fantastic thing to pair with unsavory tasks. I frequently listen while I clean the bathroom, do dishes, or while I’m playing with the baby. Added benefits for moms – no bright screens flashing in your baby’s face.

Take a Class or eCourse

If you’re going to be kicking back for an hour, why not educate yourself or learn a skill? Chances are that has been on your goals list before – but have you ever done it? Think about how many hours you watch TV/Netflix. Now think about how fluent your German would be if you’d actually spent those hours learning the language. Convicting!

There are thousands of courses and classes available online in any subject you choose. I’ve taken courses on blogging, Pinterest, ebooks, and health. I attend webinars on a variety of subjects. These things usually last the length of the average TV series episode but are far more productive and influential in your life.

Write

Whether or not you’re a writer, this can be a great Netflix replacement. Writing your thoughts, prayers, or writing letters to friends helps exercise your mental faculties, improve handwriting, and process the events of your day. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to start a blog, but “don’t have the time”. Use your TV time as a time to write instead!

We like to use Netflix as our opportunity to “relax”, but true relaxation should energize us for life’s demands. Netflix does not do this:

Lounging slows circulation and metabolism, making you feel sluggish. At the same time, great TV shows, with complicated narratives and emotionally complex characters, are both cognitively and emotionally taxing. (Read More)

There is a place and time for TV, but let’s be more intentional about when and where we use it. There is so much more beyond that screen! Real people, places, and events are far more fulfilling and life-giving than anything we watch in the living room – and the life lived beyond the sofa is far more satisfying.