It’s Time to Declutter Your Streaming Watchlists

It’s Time to Declutter Your Streaming Watchlists
Photo: metamorworks, Shutterstock

Have you ever come across a show and thought, “I should add that to my list,” only to find out it was already there? With so much content, it’s easy to build a lot of unwatched clutter. (If the average person has 82.7 bookmarked websites, imagine what our watchlists look like). Here’s how to reset your list and find the shows you will actually watch in 2021.

Assess your watchlists

I have had over 150 listings on my Netflix watchlist at the same time. Some programs even appeared more than once — thanks to a separate season or addition to a collection — and I found myself making excuses for keeping ones I never watched. It felt like digital hoarding.

Excess programs on your watchlist take attention away from the shows you would actually want to watch, so take the Marie Kondo approach and apply it to your streaming life: if the idea of watching the show no longer brings you joy, it’s time to remove it from your list. Here are a few easy steps to take:

  • Review all programs in your watchlist.
  • Delete shows and movies that don’t bring you joy.
  • If possible, organise the list (for example, Prime Video allows custom sorting).
  • Keep organised by removing content as you watch.

Don’t add to your list until you remove something first

Streaming platforms have a suggestion feature based on your previously watched programs. Most have multiple variations — “because you watched” and “You may like,” for example — which are great, but might provoke your show-hoarding tendencies. (I, for one, habitually added programs to my list and very rarely returned to them.) Pick a day once or twice a month to purge your watchlist before adding anything new.

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Delete the shows you already watched

I finished Netflix’s Queen’s Gambit a month ago, yet it still sits at the top of my watchlist. There’s no reason for watched shows to remain though, so just get rid of them. Hulu makes decluttering easy, for example, by simply removing the option to press play on shows that are no longer available. When I select Epic Conversations on my list, Hulu displays the show description without the “play” button, which means I should delete it, along with any other shows without the “play” option. Be careful though, as it could be an issue with the device or the show is on hiatus, so don’t use it as a perfect guide on what to delete from your list.

Make a point to watch the shows on your list

Think about the number of times you’ve heard “Have you seen” or “you have to watch” — it’s only natural to add those things to your watchlist to save for later. But the next step is more important: you have to actually watch it. Instead of browsing the platform’s recommendation section, if you have a full watchlist, always choose something you previously saved. That way, you’ll always watch something you wanted to watch (or at least a well-intentioned previous version of you wanted to watch, once upon a time). Once you’ve finished it, remove it from your list. It’s time to move on and keep your watchlist clean.

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