Thursday, August 4, 2011 Post By: Grayne Wetzky

Do not watch TV

If you are looking to be more productive, the first order of business is to stop watching TV. Watching TV is one of the least productive things you can possibly spend your time on. Not only does TV watching steal enormous amounts of time, for the most part the things that are shown on TV are completely useless.

The average American watches 153 hours of television. That is an enormous amount of time. What makes it worse is they watch 153 hours of TV every month. That means that if the average American limits themselves to watching just two hours of TV a day, they would free up almost 100 hours of time every month. Imagine what you could accomplish with an extra 100 hours.

But what about the news, or my favorite shows? I hear you ask. Unfortunately, they are a waste of time.

Many people sink countless hours into following the news. Not only on TV, but by checking the internet throughout the day as well. This is a huge waste of time and counter productive. I am not suggesting that being uninformed about the world around you is bad. I am just saying that television news is a terrible way to get informed about the world.

News broadcasts today are for the most part morphed into entertainment. They consists of big graphics, quick segments and focus on shocking and scary events. You could spend all 24 hours of the day watching news channels and learn very little about how the world actually works. Rather than feel educated, you would probably end up terrified. Convinced that your neighbor is planning to trap you in a secret room in his yard, or that killer bees from Africa are overtaking the world.

Instead of wasting your time on watching the sound bites on news spend some time on reading up on important concepts if you feel you should be more informed. Find factual information about how the political system works, or read up on the history of a particular region. Or don't, you can safely ignore all news outlets and still rest assured that if something truly important happens, you will know about it soon enough. The world is full of news drones who will love to tell you about significant events.

I would argue that the average news broadcast is just marginally more useful than pure for-entertainment TV shows. Watching TV shows is another incredible time waster. They are designed to be easily digestible by anyone, and so end up providing very little value.

I used to watch tons of TV. I had a daily schedule of TV shows I would follow and need to keep up on. I was quite excited to catch new episodes of favorite show. Something happened though that made me realize that I was wasting my time. I had been watching an episode of a show I had been looking forward to for some time. The episode was great and I was very excited about telling my friend about it. I called him a little later that same evening, but when I was going to tell him about the show I had seen, I could not remember what the episode had been about.

I realized that I had seen so many episodes of this particular show, that I could no longer tell them apart in my mind, and could not recall what I had seen just two hours ago. This made me think. If these TV shows had so little impact, then why did I spend my time watching. Sure, it was entertaining while the show lasted but just a few hours later I had nothing to show for my time. Since I had this realization many years ago I have watched very little TV. I still watch some sports for entertainment, but this probably amounts to less than 4 hours a week.

Many people will say that they need their TV time to unwind, or that they just want to veg out and think of nothing at the end of a long day. First of all, if your daily routine is so exhausting that you can't make it through the day without several hours of comatose TV therapy in the evening, it's time to take a serious look at what you are doing. Still, if your mind is so beat up at the end of the day that you just need to disconnect, there are many alternatives to watching TV that are a lot better.

Time wasted in front of the TV would be much better spent taking a walk or working on a favorite hobby. Or you can spend your reclaimed time playing with your kids or working on that novel in the desk drawer. It doesn't matter what you do, virtually anything you spend your time will be a better investment than TV. Substitute passive TV consumption with active creative processes. It will make you a lot happier. Even if you are so tired at the end of your day that you can't find the energy to do anything your time would be better spent meditating or just going to sleep than in front of the TV.

  1. Agree-we got rid of cable. The only things we watch we have to download from the web. For me, the extra step is a pain so I rarely watch anything anymore. Now I've found myself consumed with these paleo lifestyle blogs...

  1. Thank you Ian. TV steals an enormous amount of time for very little value in return. I'm happy to hear you've found ways to be more selective about what you watch, and thanks for spending some of the time you've regained on my blog!

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