How to optimise time on Youtube using the "Watch Later" feature

How to use youtube to your advantage.

How to optimise time on Youtube using the "Watch Later" feature
Photo by Christian Wiediger / Unsplash

Although youtube is a powerful tool for knowledge, entertainment and wisdom, it is also a powerful tool for procrastination, indulgence and loafing. In this blog, I will outline my rationale behind using the "watch later" playlist feature on youtube. I will also include some steps on how I would go about incorporating this habit into my life.


  1. By using the watch later feature, the watch later playlist becomes a bank of videos which had titles and thumbnails which spark potential value but were not immediately gratified. Therefore, some videos might not seem as interesting as they once were and can be removed.
  2. Scrolling the youtube homepage is more about scanning for potential value than scanning for instant gratification. I've found that this helps with the control of my dopamine-releasing activities and decreases my overall time on youtube.
  3. The times that I do watch a video directly from my homepage are usually entertainment (e.g. sports highlights, gaming highlights, comedy) and spontaneous. However, I am aware of how I am spending my time, therefore living my life more intentionally. This makes me more content.

This habit can be formed with 3 easy steps:

  1. Getting Started
    First, clear out the watch now playlist of all the accidental times you have added a video to it. Now, begin by clicking the ⋮ symbol on an interesting video from the home page, and add it to the "watch later" playlist.
  2. Build the Habit
    Whenever you are intentionally trying to use youtube to get some knowledge or wisdom, navigate to the watch later playlist and choose from that curation. If youtube recommends the recent highlights of your favourite sport or vlogger, then be intentional that you are spending this time spontaneously to watch something you enjoy.
  3. Maintain
    Maintain a manageable playlist by deleting videos which are no long useful or already watched. Youtube on desktop has a feature where you can remove all watched videos from any playlist in bulk. It is also important to manage a curated home page since this is the source of all of your videos. Take advantage of the "Not Interested" and "Don't recommend this channel" selection from the ⋮ .
    Although I am no expert in youtube recommended algorithms, I sense that those options tend to curate my homepage better and more specifically than simply watching and searching for the videos which interest me. Of course, subscribe to the types of channels whose content you would like to see more of.