Jul 6, 2020

How I brought down my Youtube subscriptions from 148 to 28?

"Mindful content consumption" or "Dejunk your mind" - pick a name for this exercise. I'm planning to share my journey on how I'm moving away from content overload to conscious content consumption. My first post in this series was on Instagram usage. Check it out if you haven't.

In this post, I plan to talk about Youtube content consumption.

Though Youtube has been around for a while, the content creation in India started to explode sometime around 2017. More content creators started to use this platform and create content frequently on a wide range of topics. 

I have been subscribing to many cooking channels, people who post interesting vlogs, cleaning and organizing videos, product management related content, productivity, time management, and much more. When I tried to curb my Instagram consumption last year by bringing it down to 30 min per day, all I was doing was switching over to Youtube for mindless scrolling and content consumption that captured my attention at that very point in time. There have been days when my Youtube watch time was nearly 3 hours 😞 I would end up watching so many recipes but would have tried only a few. When I questioned myself on my behavior, it wasn't fear of missing out (FOMO). Rather, it was the thirst towards learning and gathering new information on topics I'm most interested in. Also, whenever I would complete a task, I would end up relaxing for 10-15 minutes with my phone, consuming more content from Youtube. I felt like I deserved it and that it was my me-time.

Off late, my perspective towards me-time has shifted and I want to become more conscious about the information I feed my mind. Here's the step-by-step process of how I cleaned up my Youtube channel subscriptions.

1) I need to first become aware of the number of channels I'm subscribed to. Awareness is the key to making any change in our lives. As on 1st July 7:30PM, I was shocked to note that I had subscribed to 148 channels. I didn't expect this high number.

2) I had set myself a target that I would bring it down to 50 channels. I also announced it as an Instagram story to keep myself accountable.

3)The very same night, I sat down for 30 minutes and started unsubscribing to many channels using the following criteria:
  • Channels from which I haven't viewed content in the past one month
  • Channels that no longer upload any videos
  • Channels on topics that I no longer invest any effort in - there were a few channels that I had subscribed related to B2B sales, selling, sales enablement etc when I used to work with Mindtickle back in 2014-15.
Coming to the second criteria, as I was scrolling through the list, I came across this channel "geetradhu". I used to be a big fan of mama and mami a few years back. Such fun and candid conversations. But for the past year, they haven't uploaded any videos and as a subscriber, I had no idea that no new content was being posted. Our attention is being hijacked by the new and shiny.  On Instagram, if I remember someone not posting for a while, I might DM him/her to check if everything is okay. Let me admit, this happens extremely rarely. Whenever I take a break, I do hear from 5-6 people who would care to check if I'm doing okay. This is mainly due to our own efforts. The platforms don't enable such options.

Does any platform provide a way to connect with people who are no longer uploading/posting content? "Hey, you have been following geetradhu but they haven't uploaded in a while. Do you wanna message and check with them?" 

If I were a product manager of a social media platform, I would prioritize this feature. 

I digressed a bit here, but this needed to be highlighted.

After the first pass, I brought the subscriptions down to 72. Yes, around 50% unsubscribed.

4)I took a break for a couple of days and came back to this exercise. The main reason we subscribe to a channel is to ensure we don't miss out on their latest uploads. For videos that can be searched, we can simply use the Search option. For example, recipe videos can be easily searched given the name of the recipe. If we like a particular video, we can Save it. There is no need to be subscribed to a channel for these use cases.

Subscription is a way of inviting new content to our attention.

For the second round of cleanup, I asked myself a simple question, "Do I look forward to this content creator's new videos?" Using this question, I have now brought down my subscriptions to 28. Yes 28. Much less than the target of 50 🙂 So this gives me leeway to subscribe to a few more content creators if I find their content worthy of my attention.

Our attention is such a precious resource. Let's use it wisely. 

I see so many random vloggers who vlog every single detail of their lives. There is quite a bit of drama created in many of the vlogs. TV Serial makers can go on retirement now 😉 The thumbnail image and the title caption is being used extensively to grab our attention. Why invest our time and attention in such unwanted dramas?

Even if I choose to ignore all the drama creators and follow people who post useful content, how much of the content have I actually started practicing in my own life? What's the point of overloading our brains with more information if we are not putting it to use?

If you are spending too much time on Youtube, I hope these pointers will help you become more conscious of your content consumption.
Last but not the least, after you do this cleanup, whenever you are browsing Youtube, make sure you check the Subscription tab ONLY. If we go to "Recommended" section, we are again sucked into the world of content overload.  

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