Trimming Your Screen Time – Ten Simple Ways to Watch Less TV

Okay, so the idea of not having a TV is not the ideal option for most people.  In fact, if the statistics that I’ve read are any indication, I’m pretty sure most people would rather chop off an arm and wave it around than give up the old TV.  Basically, most Americans watch 6.47 hours of TV a day (I’m assuming they are talking about both pre and post work hours here ‘cause that’s a lot of TV to be watching in a single day!).

Now I’m not going to sit here and preach about the virtues of going TV-free or even TV-lite, since up until a year or so ago, I was one of those people watching endless hours of mind-numbing television.  However, I will tell you that last summer I made the decision to give it up and I haven’t looked back.  I should point out that I do still, technically, have a television (for watching DVDs and my workout videos) – what I don’t have is cable and where I live, that’s the same thing as not having a TV.  Nary a channel can be found on my TV.

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering on more than one occasion what you were doing sitting in the front of the TV instead of out and about doing something, I think I can help.  Although I basically cut out TV completely on a whim, I do realize that that particular way is just not realistic for a lot of folks.  In fact, most TV-lovers would probably prefer to simply cut back on their TV time, not cut it out altogether, which is more than doable – it’s a great idea and I promise you won’t regret it.  I have offered up some tips below that anyone wishing to expand their lives beyond a television screen can work into their day.  Try one, try some, try them all – you won’t regret it!

1) Turn on Your Stereo

Instead of turning on your television the minute you wake up in the morning or the minute you walk into the house at night, turn on your stereo. If you’re like me, you like a little noise in the background when you’re fixing dinner, cleaning up, etc.

2) Set a Time Limit

If the first tip is out of the question because you absolutely just have to have your morning television fix or your evening news jolt, then set a time limit.  Really – say to yourself that you’ll watch only enough to get the “Top Stories” and the weather.  After you’ve seen what you “need” to see, turn it off.  You’ll still be informed, but you won’t be wasting precious early morning prep time lingering in front of the television.

If you’re weaning yourself off TV (which again is perfectly fine – just because I went off TV completely, cold turkey, doesn’t mean you have to – that’s just my personality, all or nothing), set an allowable amount and stick to it.  For instance, tell yourself that you’re allowed a maximum of two hours of TV each day and that’s it.  How you use those two hours is up to you.  My one word of advice is, don’t watch TV right up until your bedtime.  You need downtime before hitting the sheets and TV doesn’t qualify – there is just too much stimulation for your brain (this goes for computers as well – log off at least 30 minutes before you plan on turning in).  Try reading or meditating instead.  I guarantee you will find you have a better sleep.  Really, I promise.

3) Move Your TV Out of Your Bedroom

Speaking of your TV and your bed, don’t watch the darn thing in bed.  In fact, if you have a TV in your bedroom, move it out of there, stat!  Your bedroom should be a peaceful, tranquil room; watching TV while in bed is anything but peaceful, admit it.

4) Eat Your Meals at a Table

What a novel idea! Eat meals at the kitchen or dining room table instead of in front of the TV.  Not only will you enjoy your food and become a more mindful eater, you might also wind up having a great conversation with your family, and what could be better than catching up with your loved ones?

5) Get Out There

Get out of the house or apartment and play!  Nothing is better than being outdoors and having fun.  That’s hard to do if you’ve melted into the sofa in front of your television.

6) Do Something You Enjoy

Find a hobby or pick up a new one!  There has to be something that you’ve wanted to do, but kept saying to yourself you didn’t have the time for – gardening, knitting, a sport.  Remember, if you’re like the average North American, you’ll have an extra 6 hours a day – think of what you’ll be able to do with all of that free time!

7) Say “Om” 

Try meditating.  There’s something about the idea of watching garbage on TV after meditating that seems almost vulgar.  You have just cleared and reset your mind, centered yourself – why would you want to introduce anything negative and/or unbalanced into your mind?  You won’t, that’s why this is on the list!

8) Volunteer

Not only will you be getting out of the house and away from your TV, but you’ll be doing something good to boot.  You’ll feel better, the people you’ll be helping will feel better – everybody will be happy.  Smile!

9) Enjoy…Silence

Enjoy the peace and quiet, and watch your days slow down! Mindlessly watching television, scheduling your days/evenings around television programs, only serves to diminish your “me time,” believe it or not. Watch what happens when you begin to lessen the time you spend in front of your television. Miraculously, you’ll have MORE time for yourself, and your days will, literally,  slow right down.

10) Do a Little Math

If none of these tips are up your alley, try this one – grab your cable bill, look at the total, multiply it by 12 and see what you come up with.  Have you done it yet?  Crazy isn’t it, how much money we spend, or have spent, to be “entertained”?  Now think of all the other things you could be doing with that money!

I hope that I’ve given you some ideas that you feel you can and will use in your daily life to, if not cut it out completely, at least trim your screen time.

~Trisha~

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