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How To Stop Bingeing On Netflix (Minimum Self-Control Required)

Is your Netflix habit out of control? Adam Alter has one foolproof tip to help you claw your way out of a box set black hole.
by Sarah Moriarty | Mar 17 2017

We like to think we’re into Netflix and chill, however, for most of us, it’s more like Netflix and sit-for-8-hours-in-a-stupor.

In his new book Irresistible, behavioral psychologist Adam Alter writes about how we are becoming increasingly dependent on technology due in large part to the fact that the apps, games, and social media platforms that surround us are purposefully designed to be unputdownable. Behavioral addiction is similar to drug addiction and can negatively effect our relationships (we’re almost all guilty of phubbing) and more serious health problems down the line.

We can tackle these negative habits with small incremental changes. Take Netflix. We all love a compelling TV show but how can we curb compulsive viewing?

netflix binge watching

In an interview with the Blinkist podcast, Adam Alter laid out the ultimate trick to stop Netflix bingeing for good: avoid the teeth of the cliffhanger.

If you think about the structure of an episode in most of these long-form shows, the last five minutes will always set up a cliffhanger,” explains Adam, “the reason you keep watching episode after episode is because that cliffhanger needs to be resolved. Cliffhangers are really addictive.

If you start to recognize when they’re setting up the next cliffhanger, stop watching the episode at that the point. And then the next time you start watching, you pick up at that point. So, instead of watching an episode the way it’s presented to you by producers—so say, from minute zero to minute forty-one or forty-two—you watch from the last five minutes of one episode to the last five minutes of the next one. So you’re always avoiding the teeth of that cliffhanger. It is very effective. You need a bit of self-control to do it, but it’s much easier to stop watching then than it will be five minutes later.

Try this tip yourself to beat vacuous viewing and take a step towards forming healthy habits with technology.

Check out the key insights of Adam Alter’s book Irresistible on Blinkist and listen to the full podcast interview here.

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