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12 habits Netflix users could use for reading books

Cancel Netflix and read books instead

When your favorite shows are being canceled or replaced by something no one will force you to watch, think about switching to books. And your Netflix habits will help you do it.

Isn’t it the right time to realize Netflix and other video-on-demand services have taken too much of your precious time?

Why have they become so important to you? Have they become an inseparable part of your daily life? Has your life changed in recent years because of the fact you became a slave of video subscription?

When you realize there are no more interesting Netflix movies or TV series to watch, get into books instead. Especially that watching one season of a popular series takes roughly the same amount of time as reading a book it’s based on.

If you are about to cancel Netflix, don’t try to switch to another video-streaming service. Habits you have developed during your Netflix sessions are perfect to rediscover the joy of reading.

Netflix habits you can use for reading books

Daily routine

What’s your daily routine? Do you watch every day or during a weekend? What’s your favorite place to watch – on a sofa in a living room or in a bed?

With video on demand, you no longer have to watch when they are on TV. It’s you to decide what day, time, and place you watch your favorite shows.

Yet, ironically, many users quickly end up in a daily routine. They wait for the evening to start watching. In most cases, it’s a sequence of actions intended to complete remaining daily tasks – and to leave one thing for the evening, the most pleasant one.

How much time do you spend a day watching Netflix? Do you watch an entire movie or episode, or maybe two, three episodes? Think whether there is time for half an hour of a book.

Maybe, instead of watching two episodes of a new season of your favorite series, you could watch one episode (giving yourself a chance to enjoy the series twice as long), and the remaining time you could use for reading books?

Or you could do the other way round. After checking out your social media and enabling do-not-disturb mode on your phone, you could read a book for half an hour as an appetizer before the main dish: a TV series?

I can watch movies only when it’s dark outside. The nighttime is a signal I can move the rest of my duties for tomorrow, and now is a time to relax – relax without any remorse, a well-deserved right to relax the way I want.

Therefore, we usually start watching movies earlier during autumn and winter, and later into the night during spring and summer.

And it’s a space where the books can fit. Keep the time for movies the same all year long, and the spare time during winter you can use for reading books.

Celebration of watching

Netflix habits for reading books - illustration by Elia Colombo
“Read more book” – illustration by Elia Colombo

Do you watch alone or with your significant other? If you have a family, how many times have you managed to watch a movie together? Do you have something to eat while watching? Something to drink?

Do you watch in home clothes? Is it after the last meal during a day, or do you eat something during the show? What’s your favorite snack and drink combination?

How do you prepare for the evening with Netflix? Do you want all the things done before you open your Netflix? What is your favorite place to watch? Is it a sofa in a living room and a large smart TV, a dimmed lamp in the corner and a glass of wine? Or is it a bedroom with a bedside lamp turned on?

Or maybe, you go even further and light some candles? Do you listen to music before watching? Do you listen to audiobooks after you finish watching?

I am asking so many questions to help you realize that, probably unconsciously, you have developed quite a long list of factors that have to be met before you can even open a Netflix or Amazon Prime app.

Why is celebration of watching so important? You can borrow some elements of celebration to read books. If you watch with a glass of wine, start reading with a glass of wine. If you enjoy the new TV series with some snacks, make sure to have them when you open a book or your Kindle. If you watch on a sofa under a blanket, make sure to be in the same time and place – but instead of a Netflix app on your iPad, open Apple Books, Google Play Books, or Amazon Kindle.

By the way, it’s a good idea to have all entertainment apps grouped in the same folder or home screen. Place Amazon Kindle app next to Amazon Prime, and let it remind you about reading every time you tap a video service.

When you watch together, you can find out that audiobooks can be a great replacement of Netflix.

Turn off all notifications

Turning off push notifications is like telling to yourself “the world can wait” and a signal to your brain that a well-deserved free time has started, and no one, especially someone from your work, is allowed to disturb your peace of mind.

I use notifications on my phone and computer wisely. I allow only the most important apps to send me push notifications: messages, reminders, and news updades.

Many people, however, keep notifications from their social networks enabled all the time. And some of them – a few friends of mine do that – disable notifications during the time of watching Netflix. They either turn off sound or enable do-not-disturb mode.

If you don’t want to spoil your Netflix time with constant interruptions from Facebook or Instagram, why can’t you do the same while reading a book? Especially that reading books as an activity helps you focus much better than watching movies.

Extended research of new movies to watch

When you open Netflix or HBO Go on your computer, tablet, or TV, the home screen shows a limited number of titles. These titles are what the video streaming platform thinks you will like.

If you are not excited about sci-fi, comedy, crime, or comics-inspired movies and shows, you may have hard time trying to find the next interesting TV series.

Some video streaming services display ratings. It’s one of the main hints that the movie or TV show is worth watching. Netflix does not have it. You can either look for information about the film somewhere else, or start watching and decide for yourself.

And here comes the biggest problem. After a few months of getting a video-on-demand subscription, you spend considerably more time on finding new movies to watch – and more and more often you end up with nothing.

Can you describe your determination? How long does it take to make a decision which movie to watch? Is it 15 or 45 minutes? How many times do you end up disgusted and start watching a movie you don’t like but there is nothing more interesting? How many times do you end up thinking that it’s a waste of time? How many times do you end up turning your Facebook notifications back on?

It’s the best time not only to start thinking about getting a new VOD subscription. It’s the best time to get an alternative to watching.

Analyze how you look for new movies, which topics you are interested in. Are you actively looking for new movies on the web? Do you use Google to search for the best movies in a specific topic, such as the one with a strong female character, based on true events, or taking place in medieval ages? Then you go back to Netflix and check out if the movie is available, right?

Or maybe you subscribe to webpages that every month provide you with a new list of Netflix or Amazon Prime?

All these methods can be used for books, as well.

It’s much easier to find a good book. One reason is that the number of books in a specific category is much larger. If you are interested in historical TV series that take place at the beginning of the 20th century, you can find a few good ones. And a few hundred good books.

In short: if you can’t find a video, switch to books.

Test new series

After a few months of having Netflix or Prime Video subscription, you have probably watched all the movies and series you’ve been excited about when you signed up.

Now, you still keep the subscription but it’s harder and harder to find something you can follow. Obviously, there are always new seasons of your favorite TV series, but it happens once a year.

How do you test new series?

The easiest way is to start watching them. All things matter: how the plot begins, what the main character is and who plays it, what the series is about, how it is filmed, how impressive the introduction is. The list is long.

Especially on Netflix, starting to watch a first episode of a series seems to be most effective and time-saving way to judge whether this is something you’d want to stick till the end.

Watching an episode of a new movie is like reading a free sample of a book. You give yourself 5 or 15 minutes to decide whether this content is going to indulge you for longer and whether this title is good enough to arrest some of your attention.

The only difference is that there are not so many other TV series to choose from and there are too many other books to choose from.

Reading a free sample is like watching a few first minutes of a first episode.

You can read a free sample when you are browsing an online bookstore. Amazon lets you open a book no matter which format you prefer, print or Kindle, and read roughly 5-10% of its content. What’s more, it doesn’t have to be the first part of a book. You can start reading the last chapter, if that will help you decide it’s worth reading the entire book.

It’s even easier when you read ebooks on your e-reader or tablet. Find the book in connected ebook platform, download a free sample, and start reading in a matter of seconds. You can download and read unlimited number of free samples, well, until you get tired.

The best thing is that you can test unlimited umber of full-length ebooks if you decide to go for an ebook subscription, such as Kindle Unlimited or Scribd. The good thing about it is that you have access to the entire content of a book right away.

Manage movies to watch on a trip

I am sure you remember that when going for holidays it’s good to download every single movie and series you would want to watch. Such an option is offered by Netflix app on mobile devices and it’s a very helpful one. It helps you enjoy movies even if the internet connection at the place of your destination is poor or not available.

Do you download more movies than you will ever have a chance to watch?

Preparing movies to watch offline during travel is a nice and pleasant activity. It helps plan your stay outside home as you have to judge how much time you will be willing to spend on watching, how you will spend days and evenings, and what kind of activity will dominate your trip.

Planning which videos you will watch is a habit you can use for books, too. When you plan your reading schedule properly, you will only take with you the print books that you are most willing to read. If you read ebooks, you will make sure to download the planned titles to your device or app so that you can read them without the internet connection.

As you see, managing movies and books to watch when you are out of home is quite similar. Do both and double the pleasure.

Follow new releases

Once you know the first contact Netflix catalog by heart (by “first contact” I mean what you see when you open the website or app), you are hungry for more.

You are probably disappointed by the search feature, which gives you mostly what the service wants you to watch. You are also disappointed by the fact that many movies and TV series are not available, and replacements you see are not something you will ever be interested in.

After a few months, you assume the only source of interesting stuff is now what you have found in Netflix archives, but what’s added to the service.

And it’s where you land outside Netflix. You are most probably using Google search, follow news aggregators or social media profiles that share which movies and TV series come to Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Go and Hulu in the coming weeks. Maybe you even subscribe to email notification to make sure you get the latest updates.

Thinking in advance and hunting for hot new releases is something you can use to find new books to read, as well.

You can follow social media profiles of an ebook platform of your choice, or subscribe to email newsletter of your local library that offers ebooks. You can check out hot new release section of online stores.

Or, you can bring things to a new level, and start using services like Prime Reading, which offer a rotating list of ebooks and audiobooks. Every month, a few dozens new books are joining the catalog, but some are also leaving. The best thing is that Prime Reading is a part of Prime membership which gives you unlimited access to Prime Video.

You see, with just one subscription, you can get access to movies, ebooks, and audiobooks, making sure you will never run out of a great stuff to enjoy. Especially that it’s being refreshed every few weeks.

Rewatching favorite scenes or entire movies

What are the top 5 best movies you watched in your entire life? How many times have you have watched the movie you loved the most?

Which TV series and which seasons have you watched again? How much time has passed between your first and next watching of the same movie or TV show?

There is nothing wrong in watching the same movie over and over again. If you do it with pleasure, it means you still have something to learn, admire, and discover.

It’s the same with books and book series. What’s great about ebooks is that you can get back a title you’ve read long time ago and start reading in seconds.

Ebooks, however, have one feature that makes rereading them much easier than watching movies again. You can bookmark or highlight text to mark parts of the book that were especially interesting, emotionally involving, or inspiring.

Improve language skills

Some users feel that spending one or two hours every day for entertainment is way too long.

They try to fade the feeling of discomfort that may potentially appear when they realize how much time they spend (or waste) on Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, Prime Video, or all these services combined. They try to find some sort of rationale.

If English is not your mother tongue, you have a ready-to-use excuse. You can always say that you’re watching movies with English subtitles, and that’s your passive way to learn English.

Of, if you are learning Spanish, you can watch TV series in this language, and explain to yourself and others that learning to understand a foreign language is a part of the deal.

You can use books for the same purpose (or excuse) instead of getting a book in your mother tongue, you can read a novel in English or a language you are learning, and spend great time on both following a great story and improving your language skills.

Skip introductions to keep watching

Maybe this tip is one tiny step too far, but I wanted to point out that the most important thing in this whole “cancel Netflix, read books” story is identifying your own habits.

I can suggest you a couple of most obvious things, but sometimes you have to go and analyze your behavior much deeper, find something that makes your time with Netflix special only to you.

And the more detailed analysis it is, the better.

For instance, I have realized that badly created opening title sequence can spoil the first impression. That’s why I almost automatically skip opening credits in a new TV series because, well, “don’t judge a movie by its credits.”

The same is with books. Sometimes a preface or prologue, especially when it’s too long or irrelevant, can discourage from reading an interesting book. I have developed a habit of skipping intros in TV series and prologues in books to give myself a chance to get to the point right away and judge the real content.

To go even further, I now usually skip prologues, read the entire book, and go back to prologues as a way to sum up and take another perspective on what I have just read.

Use fast-forward

Do you often use the fast-forward button when watching movies or TV series online? Do you jump by 15 second chunks, scenes, or use the scroll?

There is nothing wrong in skipping the part that make you bored. You can watch the movie till the very end and enjoy it much more than when you push yourself to watch every single scene and dialogue.

There is nothing wrong in turning a few pages if you are stuck in a boring description or when a plot stalls on a side plot you are not interested in.

Skimming books is better than not reading at all.

Binge-watching sessions

Netflix habits to read books - illustration by Pawel Kuczynski
“Break in transmission” – illustration by Pawel Kuczynski

Do you happen to watch a few episodes of your favorite TV series in one sitting? An entire series over a single weekend?

Do you spend every single evening on watching a few episodes of a TV series you always wanted to watch but never had time to do it?

Do you buy food for a few days, lock yourself at home and watch day and night, with short breaks for meal and optional 7-minute workouts?

This binge-watching pattern can be easily transformed to binge-reading. And it’s easier than ever with ebook bundles, which include all volumes of one book series in one file, giving you a chance to conveniently search for situations and characters in the entire story, not just one volume.

The binge-watching behavior can help you survive the time you are locked at home, for instance when you are on quarantine. Make sure to have enough movies to watch and enough books to read.

Just one more episode

A good episode ends with a hook that makes you desperately want to start watching the next one. Especially that it start playing automatically.

As a result, an evening you planned differently ends up on watching three episodes, and you are still ready to start watching the fourth one.

Is this an addiction? It’s not your fault. It’s how great stories work. They keep you involved, especially when you reach a break, such as the end of an episode or chapter.

Speaking of chapters: “Just one more chapter” was there long before Netflix which you are about to cancel, right?

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