Geek Thoughts: Netflix as a productivity tool


If you live close enough to a Netflix mailing hub, it’s possible to get on the maximal schedule:

  • Enjoy a DVD over the weekend
  • Mail it back on Monday
  • Tusday, Netflix gets it, ships a new one
  • Which you get (and watch) on Wednesday
  • Return in Thursday mail
  • Friday, Netflix gets it, ships a new one
  • repeat

This can scale up to multiple discs at a time, but at a time management level, it starts to suck. In particular, you get very little done Wednesday evenings. If you miss either mailing deadline, you fall back to 1 DVD for that week.

A better system is to reward yourself with some movie time after meeting a milestone. That way, as long as your task remains uncompleted, you’re racking up a $15 (or whatever) a month penalty for your own sloth. It seems like most people I know who have Netflix subscriptions tend to slip into a slow pattern anyway–in the mailing room I see the same mailer sitting there for weeks at a time–so why not harness human nature for motivation purposes?

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