Streaming services offer lots of movies, which can create a dilemma: you find yourself logging into Netflix or Presto or Stan and then staring at the different options for 20 minutes before making a choice? It's not only a waste of time, it also makes the process of watching a movie more drawn out. While you'll never be able to completely remove the burden of choice, you do have some options to make things move a little quicker.
Title photo by Sean McGinnia
Picking out a movie online often feels like wandering into a video store circa 1995 at the end of a busy Friday night when all your top choices have already been rented. So, what can you do? Let's take a look at some of the options. These are helpful whether you're contemplating streaming, renting via iTunes or Google Play or even just scanning what's on offer on pay TV.
Keep A Running List Of What To Watch
You can think of this as a to-do list for your media. Every time you catch wind of an interesting show or movie from a friend or your favourite entertainment journalist, add it to a list. Then once a week, check if any of these titles have shown up on the service you subscribe to. This is especially handy for movies that are in the cinema that you have no desire to actually go out and seem but might be prepared to watch at home.
Use Movie Recommendation Engines
The built-in recommendation engines on streaming services can give you ideas, although they aren't perfect by any means. Reviews on Rotten Tomatoes can also help. If you're in the mood for a particular genre, the best option is to head over to Instantwatcher and check out a curated list of ideas.
Set A Time Limit On Your Choice
As someone who has consistently spent 20 minutes searching through a Netflix queue only to turn it off and wander off to do something else, setting up a time limit for choices is an important step. After all, this isn't like buying a car or a home, it's about how you're going to spend the next couple of hours. If you can't make that choice quickly it's time to do something else. If you need to, set up a whole block of time devoted just to watching entertainment and stick to it. The longer you spend picking a movie out, the shorter a movie you'll have to watch.
Clear Out Everything You've Already Watched
One feature that Netflix could really use is a "watched library," where after you watch something, it takes it out of your queue and sends into a library so you can return to it later if you want. Since that isn't possible and movies and TV shows stay in your queue for as long as they're available on all the streaming services, I find it helpful to go through and delete movies from the queue I've already watched so I can quickly get to new things.
You can apply this same idea in the physical space as well. Instead of organising your DVDs or Blu-rays alphabetically when you buy them, set aside a section at the end with "new arrivals". This is your constant reminder that you still haven't got around to watching something. You can sort digital files in the same way by sorting by "date modified" or "last played".