How to Stop Getting Distracted by YouTube

I can't count how many writing flow sessions have been ruined because my fingers "accidentally" opened YouTube. There are several ways to soft and hard block distractions at work, though. They work at the home office too.

Even though researchers and other creative writers need creative input, sometimes you just need to block out everything and get the work done. That is HARD because YouTube uses an incredibly addictive algorithm. It can be done, however. These are my methods for staying in the work zone as a researcher:

Method 1: Soft Block YouTube with Music or Ambiance

Having some music in the background can acts as a soft block against interruptions. You physically need to stop the music in order to watch a YouTube video. Alternatively, apps like Wildfulness gives really nice nature ambiance that makes your mind wander far away from video streaming.

Method 2: Hard Block YouTube with Content Blocks

Few people realise that good options exist to block yourself from stuff on your computer. It may feel like surrendering, because you basically give up on using willpower to stay working. Recent science show however, that humans overestimate their willpower and that our psychology requires us to place helper devices in our environment. I use the app Freedom that can block content on Mac, iPhone, iPad simultaneously. I’ve written about how I use Freedom in conjunction with other apps here.

Method 3: Make a YouTube Zone

Specifying entertainment zones and a work zones at home puts a physical and mental barrier between these. I’ve written about three zones for the home office here (writing zone, creative zone and admin zone), but your home also needs a zone for relaxation. The entertainment zone should ideally be clearly distinct from other zones in your house. It could be the couch where you give yourself permission to watch YouTube. Distinguishing zones can be hard in small spaces, but a trick is to use different types of lights. A work zone should have harder, white/blue light, and a relaxation zone more softer red/purple lights.


Of course, my lazy brain is always one step ahead of my smart brain! So I cheated myself into thinking that I was working by writing about my favourite YouTube channels 🙈 I need more methods.

Malte Lebahn-Hadidi

Malte Lebahn-Hadidi