I Swapped Netflix for Podcasts for a Week

According to statista.com, on average, each American spends approximately 270 minutes watching television as of 2016 — that's over four hours per day! With the popularity of Netflix binge watching, we're consuming more and more television media daily.

In fact, I find myself watching it as background noise all the time when I do something else. On the weekends, I lie in bed looking for the next show to watch. With all that time spent watching television, instead of aiming to cut it out completely, I decided to try swapping it out for podcasts.

While podcasts, like television shows, can be made for entertainment, they can also be very insightful, thought-provoking, and even educational. Moreover, listening to podcasts requires no screen time, unlike television, so I thought that it could be a refreshing way to fill that time with something similar but with less screen attention needed and adding some interesting insight into my life.

So here's what happened when I made the swap for a week.

Day One

What I Listened to:
Goal Digger by Jenna Kutcher
Self Service from Girlboss Radio

Today, I listened to two different podcasts, one episode from each. With the idea in mind that I would be replacing it with a time when I would usually watch Netflix, I listened to my audiobooks at times in which I would usually be doing something else with Netflix in the background. However, when I watch Netflix in the background, it is always with a show that I had seen before so that I don't feel bad about not giving it my undivided attention.

With podcasts, I felt very conflicted and it was difficult to focus on both the podcast and the thing that I was doing. While they were presenting lots of interesting ideas, I wasn't able to catch them all and/or it limited the productiveness of what I was doing. Therefore I think that it brought up an issue with the way that I often multi-task with Netflix. My attention cannot fully be in either places.

Day Two

What I Listened to: 

On the second day of this lifestyle shift, I actually did not listen to a podcast at all! If that was a normal day, I would not have watched any Netflix due to all the other things on my to-do list. There were quite a few things that I needed to do and it kept me busy to the point that Netflixing (or in this case, podcasting) was the last thing on my mind.

Day Three

What I Listened to:
Self Service from Girlboss Radio

On the third day, I found that one thing that was very different between Netflix and podcasts is that with Netflix, I feel like I can just sit and watch and do nothing else. However, with podcasting, since it's only listening and you're not really doing anything with your eyes, I usually look for other things to do (requiring minimal concentration) to give myself something to do.

For the most part, this consisted of scrolling on my phone, therefore I wasn't actually really limiting much screen time. On the other hand, it did actually encourage me to look for new activities that I could do while listening. I ended up revisiting an old challenge that I did on the Bloomly and did a 5 minute tidy up (check out the post to see what that means) and it made me feel just a tiny bit more productive.

Read: I Tried Spending 5 Minutes Every Night to Tidy Up for a Week

Day Four

What I Listened to:
How I Built This from NPR

I decided to change things up on the fourth day with a different podcast, listening to How I Built This from NPR (specifically the Kate and Andy Spade and the Ben and Jerry's episodes). I think that I immediately liked the concept of this podcast and it really made me see why people like podcasts. There's a lot of really interesting information to be learned from them.

That day, I also noticed that listening to podcasts, unlike Netflix, made me feel like I needed to be doing something more with my time. Sure, I liked listening to the podcasts, but I didn't feel like I was able to listen to a podcast for hours like I would with Netflix. As a result, I felt that I could potentially dedicate that time to other things. There was a time on day four when I probably would have watched Netflix but I ended up using that time not to listen to a podcast, but rather to get something else done instead. Moreover, I managed to do another 5 minute tidy up while listening to the podcast, encouraging me to make better use of my time.

Day Five

What I Listened to:
How I Built This from NPR

Day five was a Friday and as a result, I was really craving a chance to just sit down and watch something to relax. However, due to this challenge, I had to stop myself from indulging. While podcasts can be enjoyable, due to my mood, they just weren't as satisfying as I had hoped. It really showed that they each have their own purposes as media forms. They can both be enjoyable at times, but they bring different traits to the table.

Therefore I think that it's a matter of finding balance. Podcasts can be great when engaging in simple tasks and looking for some entertainment along the way while television can be more fitting for moments where you just want to lose yourself in some other story.

Day Six

What I Listened to:
Dressed: The History of Fashion from How Stuff Works

I was initially worried about finding things to do over the weekend since I didn't have many plans and my default for when that is generally is Netflix binge watching. However, throughout the day, I found myself preoccupied with other things rather than watching Netflix. While that didn't mean that I was spending less time with a screen, it just meant that I was limiting Netflix. Therefore although I can cut Netflix, I found that it wasn't as effective as I had expected in limiting overall screen time.

Day Seven

What I Listened to:
Self Service from Girlboss

On the seventh day, I found things pretty similar to day six. I did spend quite a bit of time looking at screens, but none of it consisted of Netflix and I found myself occupied with other tasks rather than just kicking back and binge watching.

The Takeaway

Although I had been hoping that podcasts would help me avoid boredom while limiting my screen time, that was not really the case since I would constantly listen to podcasts as background noise while scrolling on my phone. As a result, I think that it would be more effective to swap Netflix for books instead, requiring the same amount of focus as a television show and limiting screen time entirely.

Additionally, once I started doing tasks demanding more focus, I found myself unable to listen to a podcast in the background due to divided attention, which is generally not the case with Netflix. I could immediately tell that the podcasts were straining my focus when I was trying to get tasks done. Therefore I think that Netflix probably would too. From the experience, I think that it has emphasized a bad habit that I really should not do: watching something as background noise.

As for my dip into the podcast world, I think that this week has been great in encouraging me to appreciate different podcasts out there. Throughout the week, I listened to quite a few different podcasts and I feel like I have learned some interesting fun facts from the podcasts.

I Swapped Netflix for Podcasts for a Week

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