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Breaking up with bad TV habits

What’s keeping you away from success?

Bad time habit TV head

The average american watches over 5 hours of TV per day

Just to put things a little in perspective here, that is 1,825 Hours per year. Simply worked at $10 an hour this equates to $18,250 per year of mostly wasted time. On another note, one hour of walking burns over 300 calories. 1,825 x 300 is equal to 547,500 calories per year. Can you imagine what a difference this could make to your physical and financial well being?

There are many other reasons why watching TV can be detrimental to your chances of success. We all know that watching so much TV is not the best use of our time but we still watch it. Why? The biggest reason is that we are social creatures, we need to be around other people, TV provides our brain a fix. By watching TV we satisfy our need for being connected. For many of us the TV is great company, we watch other people with more interesting lives than our own and we immerse ourselves in a parallel world. The problem is while we watch other people’s (fictional) lives we lose out on the opportunity to truly live our own life.

Our relationships with these “fictional TV” people mean we have less time for building real world relationships. Our social skills suffer and many studies have shown that social skills have a massive impact on an individual’s chances of success. There are further studies that prove that watching TV impairs our ability to focus, increases the prevalence of obesity and a host of other negative effects.

Conclusion: Watching TV stands in the way of success.

Tips to watch less TV

Like all break ups, breaking up with your TV is difficult, complicated and painful. Like every bad relationship there are a myriad of good things about your TV that you just don’t want to give up! Your TV keeps you occupied, it makes you laugh, it keeps you up to date on the latest news, it educates you, it entertains you and it keeps you company.
But there are better things to do with your time.

Start by watching TV later!

The first step to getting past your TV addiction is watching it later! If you are like most people you probably have a specific time when you normally start watching TV. Start by scheduling an activity that keeps you away from your TV at this time. It does not have to be anything too radical.

For example if you normally watch TV when you get back home from work. You could decide to go for a walk before going home, maybe visit a library or go meet a friend. If you really want to put that time to good use you might volunteer your time to a worthy cause or take up a class of some sort or read a book.

Most people are great at procrastinating, all I am asking is that you procrastinate a little with your TV watching! Even a 15 minute change in your TV habits will give you 90 hours over the course of a year!

Make a list with better uses of your time

You need a few good reasons to breakup with your TV! I find that it is easier to leave a bad habit behind if you have a healthy list of alternatives. I bet there have been many times that you thought of something and told yourself “If only I had more time!”. Make a list of all the things you would do if you had more time.
You need a list of at least five things at the very least.
Some ideas: Learn a new language. Further your education. Go to the gym. Go to networking events. Walk more often. Go swimming. Cook more complex dishes. (Instead of TV Dinners). Pick up a new hobby. Do arts and crafts. Spend more quality time with friends and family. Take up yoga. Take a course in self-defense. Do some extra work from home. Write a book.

Change the channel!

If you are wasting your time watching an endless list of SITCOMS or reality TV switch to documentaries or news stations. Specifically change the TV station when your favorite program is on. Try and miss a few episodes of your favorite SITCOM by watching something else instead. Another great alternative to SITCOMS is a music station. Go ahead dance around a little no one is watching!

Change your TV room setup

If you are like most people, you have a room that is purpose built for watching TV in comfort! Your sofa faces your TV, or maybe you have a TV in your bedroom just in front of your bed, maybe you have an armchair facing your TV. Either way you probably have a setup that makes watching TV natural. If you have purposefully set yourself up to watch TV, if it is the most comfortable and natural thing to do, it is probably the thing you will do.

You need to make watching TV a little less comfortable, try making watching TV a standing up activity. Another great alternative is adjusting your line of sight to your TV. Instead of being seated directly in front of your TV set your room up so that your TV is at the side so that it is less of a major focus in your life. Another option is placing the TV as far away from you as possible, if you can move the sofa further back, do so. If you have a rectangular room try adjusting the layout to get your focus off the TV as much as possible.

Downgrade your TV subscription

If you have over 200 channels you probably have too much! You are paying extra for something that is not helping you lead a more productive and fulfilled life.
Whatever your package, downgrade! Less stations = less temptations.

No TV Day

Set one day a week in which you simply don’t watch TV. You are free to choose any day, make it a point however that you watch zero television on that day. Focus on ensuring you have a whole list of activities for your TV free day. If you have to stay out of the house all day that day do it. If you have to invite friends over for a game of Pictionary, do it! If you have to sign yourself up to a class. Do it! If you have to sleep through your TV withdrawal do it!

Generally once you get the hang of your No TV Day you will find it to be your most productive day of the week.

The “post it” method

Remember that list of alternative activities? That list you made as alternatives to watching TV. Write each alternative on a post it note and stick it on your TV. Questions work great. As an example “Lose weight or watch TV?” “Learn a new language or watch TV?” “Have meaningful conversations with real people or watch TV?”

Switch to radio or podcast for a while

Maybe like most people you like having something going on in the background while you work or do chores around the house. Most cable subscriptions have a host of radio stations available and the internet is also a great place to stream radio stations of your choice. Whilst radio can reduce your productivity it is much less harmful than TV and you can get quite a few tasks done with less distractions.

Acknowledge that TV is addictive

Scientific research proves that TV is addictive, it triggers dopamine release in your brain and in immediate cessation studies people did suffer from withdrawal sypmptoms including anxiety and in some cases depression. The best way to fight against the addiction is exercise and interaction with friends and family.

Set the switch off timer on your TV

Most modern TV’s have a sleep timer button. You can set your TV to switch off after a set period of time such as one hour. This helps automate the process of disengaging with your TV. This also helps you keep track of how much time you are actually spending in front of your TV, if you had to switch your TV back on three times you are at the very least more aware of your addiction.

Get rid of the remote

Grab that TV remote and store it somewhere far away, preferably in your mother-in-law’s house. Take it out for a drive and forget it behind you at a friends house. Take the batteries out and throw them away. Having to get up to change the channel each time will reduce your desire to keep the TV on, besides you’ll get some exercise each time you get up. Better still when you get up to change the channel why not click the off button on your TV instead?

Eat TV Free

Set a new house rule, no TV at dinner time. Use dinner time for conversation, you should not be gobbling up your food while zombified looking at the TV. If nothing else focus on the food. You will probably eat healthier if you are more conscious of what you are scoffing down.

Earn your TV time

This works exceptionally well for some people. Set yourself a task you must complete before switching the TV on. As an example, you must read 20 pages from my book before watching TV. 😛 You must exercise for thirty minutes before watching TV. You must call a friend or family member before watching TV, go ahead give them a call … you might get them away from the TV! Double win!

I hope this list of tips will help you cut down a little on TV and help you do greater things with your life.

Our household has been TV free for three years. We do stream the odd show online every once in a while but we keep it to a minimum and our lives are the better for it!

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