Clearing out my "-later" pages

With the turnover of a new year, I did not want to carry the burden of imaginary work into 2024.

I looked at my Readwise Reader collection of saved web pages/PDFs/videos to process (~1,000 items). My YouTube Watch Later list totaled over 2,200 items. My default Amazon wishlist for Books has not been emptied in years.

I have always used my read-later, watch-later, and buy-later lists as “cooling off” platforms. When I returned to them later, I could assess whether an item captured in the heat of the moment retained its warmth. Most of the time, I’d think, “Why did I save this??” and thus saved myself the time and trouble of processing it.

It’s always interesting to me to scroll through the lists and see what captured my attention at specific periods of the year: plantar fasciitis remedies and exercises, note-taking, retirement planning, authors I was following, reviews of a specific book or movie I’d just read, breakfast prep videos, etc. Yes, if I had unlimited time and energy, I’d love to have read and viewed all these things.

But I don’t. No one has.

So, I decided to declare bankruptcy on all these lists and clear them out. If something really wants my attention, it’ll come back and then I’ll take action on it in the moment by reading it, viewing it, or buying it. Or capturing it in one of my cooling-off lists, which I’ll likely again have to clear out at the end of 2024.

How To - Readwise

Cleaning out the Readwise list was pretty easy; find the Bulk Actions command and Delete All.

I’ll still indiscriminately add web pages to Readwise for later reading in 2024. It’s a dumping ground for my current in-the-moment interests. If I want to keep something, Archive it.

How To - Amazon

Display the Books list, select More, then Manage List, scroll to the bottom, then Delete List. Repeat for all other specialty lists that are no longer needed.

In 2024, I’ll create specialty lists as I need them, and I’ll continue to use my new Books list as a cooling-off chamber for in-the-moment captures.

How To - Youtube

YouTube was the toughie. It’s not in Google’s best interests for users to delete all those yummy videos they’ve saved up. Fortunately, there are scripts you can enter into the browser Console to do the work for you. The scripts usually work in Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.

Searching YouTube for “how to delete YouTube watch later list” yields how-to videos going back years; find ones that are recent, within the last few months ideally. YouTube changes its interface frequently, which breaks these scripts.

The easiest way to clear the Watch Later list is to use the Chrome extension YT Watch Later Assist. If you have thousands of items in the list, start the deletion process and ensure the screen doesn’t go asleep.

If you have other YouTube playlists you want to clear out, check out the scripts that run in the Console. They usually enable you to change the list name from “Watch later” to the another list name.

If you have over the years subscribed to too many YouTube channels (I had over 150 in my list), use the Console to run a mass unsubscribe script. While I had trouble getting the Watch Later scripts to run, this unsubscribe script ran perfectly. It ran so quickly though that it skipped some items. Running it 3 or 4 times did the trick and I am now unsubscribed from all YouTube channels.

Michael E Brown @brownstudy