Ways To Regain The Hours Television Steals From You

A few days ago I read in a newspaper that on average, a person spends about 30 hours a week watching television. Furthermore, this average was 20% more for the holiday season.

The article reminded me of my teenage years, where I spent more than 7 hours a day watching episode after episode. Eating in front of the television, homework in front of the television…. At the time, it seemed like the “best drug” I ever found!

A decade later, I am proud (& relieved!) to say that I am not that person anymore! The transition didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t easy. I thought of sharing my insight on how I managed to regain those hours.

When an innocent hobby/habit becomes a problem

When engaged in watching television, time “goes by” quickly (unless the program is very boring!). Can you recall a moment where you sat down to watch one episode and then saw highlights of the next program and thought “might as well watch this one too”. Before you know it, an hour has passed; and then another and another…. So, once you are ready to get yourself out of the couch, it’s time to sleep. Or you have fallen asleep on the couch itself!

Although watching television can be a great way to unwind after a hectic day, laugh out loud, or even learn something new, it is, generally, the biggest time vampire in modern society. It took several “not so good” grades to make me aware this!

Evaluating a “healthy” level

Take a few minutes and write down all the shows you watching during the week. Don’t cheat! Write ALL, even the shows you would not admit to watching! For each show write how long it is. Add up the total hours. Is the number too high? Or are you satisfied?

How many times have you decided NOT to do something (socialize, study etc) because something you liked was coming on television?

Reasons why we watch television

The reason for watch television may vary from person to person. It might even be a more than one reason. These are a few reasons I can think of, for the moment.

1. Tired.. want to relax
2. Don’t want to spend “alone” time, alone!
3. A diversion from your life (television has you believing that life’s troubles are over in 22 or 42 minutes plus commercials!)
4. Have nothing better to do – bored
5. To increase sociability
All my friend talk about the latest heroes episode at lunch
I find it difficult having conversations with people who say “Did you watch…?” or “Do you watch…?”

The bitter truth

Other people are being paid to do what they love (acting, directing, producing etc!)
You are watching other people, do what they love!
Why spend most of the time watching other people live their lives?

Why it’s so… difficult

24 hours a day, 365 days a year… . There are hundreds of channels, catering for every conceivable taste.
“I’ve felt very compelled to give up TV for, like, a year now, and I just don’t, partially because I adore some of the shows on TV”…. Sounds familiar?

If you can’t totally eliminate watching television….

Most of us have always had TV in our lives so it is hard to imagine life without it. So what can be done, without giving it up entirely?

1. Watch ONLY want you WANT to watch, WHEN you want to watch!
Look back at the evaluation exercise you carried out before.
Decide on the programs you really want to watch.
Perhaps, it will be a good idea to rent those television series. It will prevent you from channel hopping and “settling” from watching “what’s on”

2. Use television as a reward
For example: If you finish writing a report, cleaning the house etc
Once you have finished doing what you intended to reward yourself to a few hours of television.

3. Find new ways to occupy your time
How does one get to a point where they are too busy to watch television? “I am way too busy to watch television”
May be a new hobby, a project .. surely there must be something that you always wanted to do but never got around to it?

4. Multi-tasking
I don’t recommend this for important tasks. Perhaps, you can have the television on, while doing choirs, exercising etc

Have there been occasions where you realized that you have to cut down on television? Were you able to do so?

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Julian said...

Excellent post. It cracks me up when people tell you how busy their lives are but then they are somehow totally up-to-date with the goings on of 10 different TV shows.

I always think of the lyrics from that Spearhead song: "Television, the drug of the nation, breeding ignorance and feeding radiation".

Adam Steer, Better Is Better said...

We had to go cold turkey in our family. Three years ago we simply cut the cable to avoid the temptation. Every now and then we consider getting it reconnected. But on occasions when we travel and I do have the chance to catch some "boob-tube," I realize that there really isn't much worthwhile on TV anyway!

All the shows I really want to see, I can eventually rent, buy or watch on the internet anyway.


Jean Browman--Cheerful Monk said...

I don't watch many TV programs, but I do order Netflix DVDs. I only watch them while I exercise, so I don't worry about how much I watch--the more programs, the more exercise. That can't be bad. :)

B J Keltz said...

I gave up television from 1993-1996 and from 2003 to current. Though I miss Discovery Channel and HGTV, I don't really miss television. I have more time to write and do other things, and there are no arguments about who owns the remote!

Daphne said...

Hi Shamelle,

This post resonates with me because I haven't watched TV (voluntarily anyway) since 1991. I do watch a little when others have the TV on and I join them for a while just to be there with them. Then I'm off to read or do other things again. I should count how many hours of my life I have redeemed with this one simple habit. Great post!

Carla said...

I watch about two hours a week of Netflix movies documentaries, etc. I did watch TV during the Olympics and election, inauguration, etc but I dont watch TV shows. I may watch the Super Bowl, awards shows, etc, but to me these are special events, not something I would do otherwise.

Barbara Swafford said...

Hi Shamelle - I'm not one who can sit for long watching TV. I find I'll have it on when I'm working in my office and get to catch up on the news while I get my work done. To just sit and watch a show makes me antsy. If I'm in that position, I usually find myself reading at the same time.

rummuser said...

How strange! My father and my wife watch television every evening when I sit a little distance away from them and blog. Just a few minutes ago, my father suggested that instead of sitting before the computer, I should join them and watch the TV! That too for diversion. I told him that this was my diversion!

Sara at On Simplicity said...

Like you, I *loved* TV growing up. If I missed an episode, it was a serious concern. I really lost the urge freshman year of college, when I didn't have a TV and had to settle for whatever was on in the common room. Once I broke the habit, it's been a voluntary, but still enjoyable, habit even since. Your description of how the time-suck starts is perfect!

Mark said...

This is great advice. I weaned myself from the one eyed monster years ago. I still watch TV, however very little, less than a hour a day during the week and less than 3 hours a day on the weekend. For me the best thing is the Digital Video Recorder. Now when I watch TV I watch what I want when I want and if I am watching something that is live and good, I can pause the show to give attention to something or somebody else if I need to.

kat said...

Our family (5 kids included) has been TV-free for 11 years now. We did get a monitor so we can watch movies when my dh was deployed for 9 months.

It always amuses me how other moms say, "I don't watch very much TV," but then can discuss the plot of about 6 different shows. The other comment that galls me is, "I haven't got time to read." Well, if you put down the remote for 30 minutes you could read an actual book and learn something.

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