Stop Wasting Your Life On Youtube: 2020 Updated Guide

With 2020, we just entered a new decade. In 2 years from now, 82% of the internet traffic will be video only. The world’s largest video platform, Youtube, is the 2nd most popular website on the planet. Altogether, people watch 1 billion hours of Youtube everyday. To keep up with the insane demand, content creators upload more than 500 hours of content every minute.

The average user spends 40 minutes per day on Youtube. That’s over 4 and a half hours a week. That’s 10 days a year. 10 days of constant watching. And that’s just an average, many people spend much more than an hour per day on Youtube.

Those numbers are mind boggling. How much time do you spend watching youtube everyday? Is it too much? Do you wish it was less?

Imagine how much you could move your projects forward, how much you could change your life, if you spent an hour a day on something meaningful, something life changing.

If you want to take action and take control of your Youtube consumption.

If you want to remove Youtube from your life.

Or if you’re just curious about the Youtube phenomenon.

Then this article is for you. Let’s get started.


Whether you spend 30 minutes, 1 hour, or 3 hours watching Youtube everyday, you can never reduce the time you spend on it too much. The ultimate goal is to fully remove it from your life, but that is really hard. Let’s look at our options.

NOTE: if you’re not sure if you need to take action because you don’t know how much time you spend on youtube, track your time with Webtime Tracker. You’ll probably be surprised enough to take action.

NOTE 2: a lot of the techniques I’m about to present use browser add-ons. I use Chrome, but you will most likely be able to find the same add-on for a different browser. If not, you will most definitely find an equivalent. If you need any help with setting things up in general, feel free to contact me!

Option 1: Log out

Youtube is a Google product. This means that if you’re logged into your Google account and decide to head to youtube, you’ll be automatically logged into Youtube as well. Everything you watch gets saved by Google, and the next time you go to youtube, you’ll be prompted with a ton of recommendations. 99% of the time, this is what makes people fall into the Youtube spiral.

Nobody plans to watch 2 hours of youtube nonstop. It happens because we go from video to video, from recommendation to recommendation. It’s a vicious circle.

The only option to prevent recommendations is to remember to always check if you’re logged in when you access YouTube. If so, log out by clicking on your profile icon in the top right corner.

Not the most convenient, right? Let’s look at a more radical option.

Option 2: Prevent cookies

We’ve just seen that recommendations are at the centre of the issue here. To recommend videos you will want to watch, Youtube uses cookies.

A cookie (on the internet) is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on your computer by your browser. Cookies are a mechanism for websites to remember information about you or to record your browsing activity. Like the videos you watch.

Thankfully, there’s a way to prevent Youtube from storing cookies on your computer.

  • Download and install Disable Cookies on your browser
  • Go to youtube.com
  • Click the cookie icon in the toolbar
  • You’re done

Youtube won’t store cookies on your computer anymore, at least not the ones used to recommend content. But it will still be able to recommend you videos based on what you watched before installing the add-on. Let’s remove the old data too.

  • Download and install Cookie Manager
  • Access the dashboard of the extension
  • Type “youtube” in the search bar
  • Expand the search results
  • Delete all cookies
  • You’re done

NOTE: Youtube will still store some cookies on your machine, but they will be unrelated to feeding you recommendations based on your history.

Getting rid of the recommendations might be enough for your browsing taste. But there will still be distractions in the way, mainly on the homepage. If you want to get even more serious about removing Youtube from your life, keep on reading.

Option 3: Go for a blank Youtube

Even without recommendations based on your watching history, you will still be able to see the trending videos, the latest movie trailers, and other unnecessary information.

Thankfully, there’s also a way to get rid of all that. Enter Blank Youtube.

That’s right. This is my youtube homepage. A search bar, and nothing else.

Youtube should be like google for videos. When you go to the google homepage, you go there to research something specific.

You don’t go to google to see what the trending search terms are.

You don’t go to google to see search recommendations based on your previous searches.

You go to google to search for something specific.

But when you go to youtube, you most likely don’t even know what you’re going to watch in the first place. You might just want to check out if your favourite youtuber uploaded a new video. Maybe you want to watch the latest movie trailers. You seek distraction.

It’s all fine to seek distraction. But because of recommendations, because of the channels you’re subscribed too, you will most likely never watch youtube for a healthy amount of time. You might tell yourself you’ll spend only 30 minutes and get back to work, but it never happens, because you get caught up in it.

Blank Youtube is a new way of browsing your video content.

  • No more videos on the homepage, just a search bar
  • No more videos next to what you’re watching, only the content you want to watch
  • No more comments below your content, only the video you want to watch
  • No more channel updates, “watch later” playlists…

The process

We’re going to edit YouTube’s design with another browser add-on.

  • Download and install Stylish for your browser
  • Go to youtube.com
  • Click on the stylish icon in the toolbar
  • Click on menu (the 3 dots)
  • Click on “create new style”
  • In the main text box, paste this code
  • In the “Applies to” section, paste https://www.youtube.com/
  • In the top-left field, name your script youtube_homepage
  • Click on Save
  • You’re done

Without getting too technical, this code changes the way youtube gets visually rendered in your browser window. We remove everything we don’t need, and we only keep the search bar.

Your youtube homepage should now look like mine.

One last thing. When you watch a video, you will still see other videos on the side, as well as the comment section below the video. But all you really need to watch a video is the video player. You don’t need the content circled in red here:

Let’s get rid of it.

  • In the main text box, paste this code
  • In the “Applies to” section, paste https://www.youtube.com/watch?v
  • In the dropdown menu next to the “Applies to” section, select URLs starting with
  • In the top-left field, name your script youtube_watch
  • Click on Save
  • You’re done

There you have it. Now, every time you go to youtube, you will actually have to think of what you want to type in the search bar. You will have to take a conscious decision about what you want to watch. You won’t mindlessly click on recommendations and the latest trends. You can still seek distraction. Just a more meaningful one. One with intent.

  • What am I actually here for?
  • Do I even want to watch Youtube?
  • Could I be using this time in a better way?

Now, let’s be honest here.

Your youtube page might be blank.

Your recommendations might be off.

But at the end of the day, if you really want to forget about all that and go back to your old youtube because it’s more fun, you totally can. All you have to do is click on that switch:

Self-discipline is so hard. When you’re back home from a long day of work, maybe you won’t give a damn about not wasting your time on YouTube. Maybe you’ll just disable all the changes you tried to make, and you’ll go on a 2-hour Youtube ride.

If you don’t have the self-discipline to prevent you from disabling your changes, then there is one last option you can use.

Option 4: Completely block Youtube on your computer

SelfControl is a free app for Mac that lets you block your own access to distracting websites, like Youtube.

  • Download the app here
  • Open the app
  • Add youtube to the blacklist
  • Click “start”
  • You’re done

That’s it. You won’t be able to access Youtube on your computer. Even if you restart. Even if you delete the application.

NOTE: I recently figured out that there is a way to disable it. Which goes to say, there is always a way to break rules, especially the ones you set for yourself. But one, the solution is seriously cumbersome. And two, use some self-discipline.

SelfControl doesn’t come with a scheduling option, so you have to manually click “Start” every time. When I use it, I set the timer for 24 hours before going to bed, and click on the button again before going to bed the next day. The trick is to just click the button. Don’t think about it. Just click that button, go to bed, and you’re done.

Of course, you can always go watch Youtube on your phone, your iPad, or another laptop. But apps exist for both phones and iPads to block Youtube just the same way. If you have another laptop, install SelfControl there as well.

Final words

At the end of the day, you can always break the commitments you make to yourself, and bypass the hurdles you try to put between you and your distractions. It’s about respecting yourself and your time.

In the specific case of Youtube, it’s also about realising how much you could do with all the time you spend watching videos. Sure Youtube is relaxing, but there are so many other ways to relax that can bring more to your life, are less addictive, and much healthier.

Just watching Youtube 2 hours a day is huge. That’s 730 hours a year.

Imagine how far you can take a business by working on it 730 hours a year.

Imagine how much you can learn from books by reading 730 hours a year.

Imagine how much money you can make on the side with 730 hours a year.

Imagine all the possibilities, and take action against time waste.

Your time is the most valuable asset you have in your life. Use it wisely.

Go build something great.

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