On a quest to cut down on the noise in our lives, and focus on the things that really serve us, let’s start with the 800 inch Gorilla in the room. Don’t worry. We’re not purists either. We’re not going to recommend that you give up TV altogether. We are going to talk about the nitty gritty of becoming more aware of the cost to benefit ratio and return on investment of that TV time.
The average person watches 5.5 hours a day. A day. Most people don’t even pay that amount of attention time to their work day.
First of all, is this really something you want written on your tombstone? Competitive Couch Surfer, Absentee Parent, Friend and Spouse? Or are there other things you want to be known for? How about your kids?
Don’t be a statistic. Sitting on your rump for so long puts you at greater risk for all sorts of disease, and the result is an appearance that no-one is proud of. So consider cutting back on your screen time.
6 Quick Fixes
1) Unsubscribe & Switch: Consider pulling the plug on cable and trading it for a platform that offers more control and independence like Netflix and Hulu plus. This will take your TV bill down to around $20 a month. You’ll find yourself watching more documentaries and Discovery Channel shows (after binge watching some of your favorites of course) and thus begin a healthier path. This habit shift can help you be more interesting too.
What’s on TV is a major source of casual conversation and ice breakers.
Here’s how to leverage your new Netflix habit in your social and work life:
- At networking events, parties and mixers, having interesting stories and facts from the Honey Badger documentary will be more memorable than sports statistics.
- Relive the glory days of TV’s favorite and classic series. This can help your intergenerational skills, and make it easily relate to older or younger generations. Some people watched shows when they were new, some when they were daytime re-runs, but chances are, you can watch Friends, Cosby, Cheers, Wings, and connect with someone on a happy memory.
#MindHack: This is a mind hack too because we experience the shows as if we were in them. We remember and emotionally attach to the shows, ups, downs, and simple times. This alone should inspire you to be more mindful of what you watch, but it can also be used to win friends and influence people.
Hulu plus offers you the latest episodes of your current favorites with less and/or limited commercials. Also, these put you in the driver’s seat with the ability to pause, mute, fast-forward, switch to other programs around your schedule not theirs. You also create your own playlist of sorts which gives you the opportunity to check-in with how you feel after consuming a show and killing time. This tiny bit of gained awareness is a great step to a path of further filtering out noise and things that don’t serve you.
Also you can watch a horrible but popular show fast-forwarding through the worst, and getting the conversational gist, in no-time. Bascially, fast-forward your way through your own highlight reel. This lowers the cost of your time, energy and emotional investment (TEE) in garbage TV, giving you a competitive edge.
That might sound crazy but consider this: the fast forward habit is on the rise. As our experience with common plot lines and fillers (time spam) increases, so does our connection to that FF button on the remote. In fact there are now several apps that help people share life’s moments in Fast Forward including Instagram’s Hyperlapse and Microsoft’s much smoother, 3d composing software. (See the difference between the two here)
2) Mute – Enjoy Mute Mania – Maybe you’re struggling to turn the TV off altogether. A good transitional step is to get trigger happy with the mute button. Without the sounds, you can allow the TV to become an animated background and begin doing other things while it’s still on. Just like your dogs responding to a doorbell on the TV, your ears and eyes perk up based on all sorts of sounds. That’s why the voice over narrators, and stars on commercials sound so excited. It gets you to pay attention. A muted TV, has less of a pull on your attention and you’re not as much of a moth to the flame. If you glance at the screen and occasionally see a headline catching your attention, you can unmute it and listen in. This can get you started on a mindful, noise filtering practice.
#RelationshipSaver – Spend the extra money on date night and go to a restaurant without TV’s. This will make it much easier to be attentive to the conversation with your loved one.
3) Create a Playlist – We all have our guilty pleasure shows. Try sprinkling a different show in between favorites in that may stir you into activity. For example, perhaps for every 2 episodes of your favorite show, you’ll watch a documentary, nature program, 20 minute exercise tape. It doesn’t mean you have to move to it but the boredom, discomfort, or lack of interest may stir you to disengage from the TV and do something more productive, or it may stir you to play along, learn something new or participate and exercise. Take advantage of any of those feelings and move to do something better.
4) Make half your TV time, multitasking time – Catch up on your honey-do’s. Do laundry. Do dishes. Do push-ups. Do something that involves more physical activity than a typing a keyboard, thumbing at your phone or touching a tablet. Grab a cheap case for your iPad and some velcro adhesive strips, and a attach them to that treadmill you may currently be using to hang your clothes. Walk or jog while you watch – and you’ll be on your way to a healthy return on time invested in TV.
5) Block out your TV Time on your calendar – This will help you visualize how much time you’re spending drooling on your couch as you catch up on your favorites, fume at the newsman, or channel surf. This will also allow you to enjoy the time you do set aside to enjoy some television since you are doing so mindfully with awareness of time.
6) Set Reminders – Old habits die hard. One hour or episode leads to another, and before you know it you’re binging on TV. Set a timer to remind yourself to break away and do something else. Use your calendar reminders on your phone. Schedule a next activity after your TV time. Make sure that it’s important. Consider something that will take you outside, like a simple 10 minute walk with your dog, your thoughts or a friend. This will also help increase your awareness of your TV time, and make it easy to appreciate and build healthier habits.
My consumptive TV credentials for those interested – Next to video games, Mountain Dew and Milky Ways, when I was a teenager, I was addicted to TV. I was also 260lbs! I ditched the Mountain Dew and Milky Way’s lost 100lbs, and was still addicted to TV. That’s how addicting it is. I loved it. I still love it but I am much more discerning and critical of what I watch and discerning to identify what content serves me, my goals, priorities, family and environment I want to cultivate. So take it from a former TV zombie, cutting back, switching services and getting picky has really changed my life for the better. I read more. I listen more. I participate more. And when I watch, I watch way more interesting stuff.