Book Binger
November 15, 2012 1:17 PM   Subscribe

I love to read. I love to watch t.v. I don't love binge reading and binge t.v. watching. How do I stop this?

I just took two days to read three fat books. A few weeks ago I came across Warehouse 13 on Netflix and blew threw all the seasons available in only a few days. Same with City Hunter. Same with Vampire Diaries.

This wouldn't be a problem except I need to feed my family, take care of the house, do laundry, help with homework, be a mom. But . . . I just can't pace myself. I can't read a chapter here and there. I can't watch an episode a day.

How do I stop this behavior? I enjoy reading and watching t.v., but I don't want to gorge myself all the time and neglect my responsibilities. Any suggestions?
posted by Sassyfras to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I have watched those shows you mentioned. They are neither written or shot to be watched with the concentration that you would give to, say, Game of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire would. At the very least, you can turn the volume up and clean the house with the show on in the background. At least this is what I do while watching White Collar and Bones.
posted by griphus at 1:29 PM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also, consider investing in a tablet that can run a Netflix app. I take the iPad everywhere I need to do stuff: kitchen, bathroom, etc., and have a TV show playing while I do chores. It's pretty awesome and has definitely made cleaning less of a pain.
posted by griphus at 1:30 PM on November 15, 2012

Could you try setting a timer? That's what I do -- I think there's even a kind where you have to do a math problem to make it stop making noise.
posted by spunweb at 1:33 PM on November 15, 2012

Stop telling yourself "I can't" - you're a human, and an adult, and this isn't rocket surgery. You totally can! You just need to find the right trick or combination of tricks that will help you help yourself.

Do you just lose track of time (this happens to me especially when reading)? Set a timer. If you've ever had enough discipline to make yourself go to a job or a class that you hated, you have enough discipline to put down the book when the timer goes off.

Use the books/shows as rewards: when you've done XYZ chore, you get one chapter/episode (and set a timer).

When possible, multitask (on preview, what griphus said): I can fold laundry and watch an episode of [show] at the same time. Audio books are good for this, of course.

Good luck. You can do this! You've done stuff that's way harder, right? So you can do this.
posted by rtha at 1:34 PM on November 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you usually get tired at a certain time of night, ONLY start reading/watching an hour or two before that. Then stop when you get tired, go to sleep, and don't read/watch anything until the next night (or some night after that.) This won't work if you're one of those people who can stay up all night though.

Or, set aside a day or a few days to read/watch as much as you want occasionally (like once a month? I guess it would depend on your schedule) as a treat. Plan around it so the work gets done first.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:34 PM on November 15, 2012

Yeah, I can be like this too. Fortunately for me, my ADD competes (generally successfully) with anything that I do, even my obsessions. :-)

What came to mind as I read your question: no reading or TV-watching till a certain time of night, after you've done what you need to do for the day to take care of business. At 8:00, or whatever time, your day is DONE and you can turn to your books or TV.

If this keeps you from going to sleep at a reasonable hour, put your bedroom light on a timer and have it shut off after a couple of hours of reading. Most TVs have sleep timers so you can do the same there. I would bet that iPads and Android tablets have apps that can make the device power down after a certain period of time.

I would not combine your book/TV obsessions with other activities - that's a recipe for not paying proper attention to your chores/time with family. About the only pastime that goes with TV watching is knitting, IMHO.
posted by Currer Belfry at 1:35 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are certainly technical solutions - for example, only download one episode of a show at a time, no streaming allowed. Get an e-reader and only download one chapter at a time. Use one of the many programs that block certain websites for a period of time.

But, this kind of deep procrastination where you're neglecting your everyday life is probably too deeply-rooted to be solved with some sort of trick. What's the mental resistance you feel about when you contemplate doing your life-related tasks? The source is almost certainly related to larger issues in your life. Are you frustrated with your role as a mother? Do you resent the responsibility placed on you?

Those guesses are just stabbing in the dark to give you an idea of what I mean. Reading your AskMe history, it looks like you've had a fair amount of dissatisfaction with your life this year, and some big life changes to boot. I'd bet that the compulsive distraction is directly linked to these other issues.
posted by zug at 1:35 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hmm, this is a conundrum. As an aside, I wish I had your concentration while reading--it takes me way longer to finish a book than to blow through a marathon series on Netflix!

But I digress...

How I think this behavior will change is for you to get creative in making some of your everyday responsibilities more fun--play music while you clean, make up a game to get your children involved, and find new recipes that you can try--essentially weaning yourself off watching too much TV by replacing it with other (possibly more meaningful) activities.

As for reading too much, have you tried only reading right before going to bed? That way your tiredness will get the best of you and you'll fall asleep before spending hours reading the night away...

Good luck and don't feel too bad about these habits--they're totally normal. :)
posted by arizona80 at 1:47 PM on November 15, 2012

Also, one more sort-of-solution: podcasts. I don't know about you, but sometimes I've just got the TV on so that there's some sort of narrative going on around me instead of silence or music. Podcasts don't depend on your watching them, so you won't be missing any visual stuff if you listen to them while you do chores. The relevance of this depends on how and why you watch TV, of course.
posted by griphus at 1:53 PM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

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