It’s late at night and you’re bored, but not quite tired enough to crawl into bed and drift off to sleep.

You’re trying to force yourself to stop snacking so late at night, so you don’t want to mosey into the kitchen for a drink.

You pull out your phone and idly scroll through your social media feeds, but it’s too late for anything good to pop up. What do you do?

If you’re anything like me, you fall into the deepest and most convoluted of YouTube voids: instructional videos.

I try to learn things that are useful to me, but I love learning things I don’t care about as well.

There’s something about learning methods of doing things that you have exactly zero intention of actually doing that can be so relaxing, mind numbing, and enjoyable.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to fix something on your car yourself, YouTube is a great resource. There are millions of videos about every different kind of car ailment and how to fix them in your home garage. Despite the fact that you’ll likely break shit and make the problem worse, at lease you’re attempting to be a DIY genius.

There’s also plenty of videos on how to make specific crafts and display them proudly in your home. I don’t know why I’d have any need for a 27-layer drip candle, but the sky’s the limit when it comes to my useless imagination.

I could learn how to make specialty alcoholic drinks, buying all the ingredients on a whim and then feeling a bout of laziness and retreating into my trusty bourbon stash instead.

I’ll have all of these fancy scenarios in my head where I’m a high class bartender or a host of a house party and I’ll be whipping up drinks out of thin air to impress people. This never actually happens, but it’s fun to think about.

Anything outdoors like gardening, survival skills, or home repairs can be explained via short form video as well. Whenever I’m planning a new project, I check all the usual haunts on my YouTube subscription list and see if I can come up with any ideas. I learned how to strip old paint off of my patio with a power washer and hand grinder and it actually worked out pretty well.

If you’re looking for professional skills like Adobe Creative Suite, web design, programming, or Excel training, YouTube can also be a great resource. Professionals have some very tailored tutorials depending on what the goal you’re looking to accomplish is and it’s a pretty great place to start figuring out exactly what you want to learn. I’ve used it for one-off tutorials on After Effects and WordPress several times.

The most useful to me have always been the cooking videos, however. I love to cook, but I hate to follow recipes. The YouTube videos about cooking are a great resource for finding a cooking method to try, but then swapping in ingredients that you prefer and altering tastes to suit your own. For example, I hate onions and prefer beef to fish, so I’ve found recipes where I was able to swap in chicken or beef for fish as the protein and omit onions and rotate in other spices and flavorings instead.

The point is, if I’m going to learn to do something, I want to make sure I’m learning how to do it right. If I can skip the step of fumbling through all the newcomer pitfalls, then perhaps I can learn a new skill and actually accomplish it efficiently.

I think of all the time I wasted as a youth on drugs, alcohol, mindless television and video games and, instead, I could have been watching instructional videos and picking up skills for real life. I could have been doing something productive with my mountains of free time.

As a token of my appreciation for these content providers, here are a few of my favorites, by category:

Cooking

DIY Around the House

Automotive

Drink Recipes

Software and Coding Tutorials

Business and Entrepreneurship

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