Health / Self Improvement

TV: The (Not So) Silent Killer


Turn Off the TV

I will admit the following: I LOVE TELEVISION. I love TV. I like comedies and dramas. I like sports and serialized series. I love late night talk shows and I even love certain reality (House Hunters mostly).  The problem is that none of these shows add much to my personal life. I would be afraid to admit how many hours of mindless TV viewing I do per week. My DVR has trouble keeping up with all the constant shows being recorded. I enjoy it, but only because I have allowed the rest of my life to become so boring that TV is truly the most exciting thing I have most nights.

 The problem with television is the same as the problem with everything: We don’t use it in moderation. Food is good for you, if you eat the right stuff and eat the right amount of it. It is an easy crutch. At the end of a long day at work, we just want to relax, so we just sit on the couch and watch the TV until we drift off to sleep.

 So what is wrong with that? I say absolutely nothing, if it is done right. If you are wasting time flipping around channels muttering “there’s absolutely nothing on I want to watch”, you should probably think of a new activity. The problem is not that I have 15 hours of shows per week on my DVR, it’s that I also spend an additional 15 hours per week aimlessly flipping through channels. That is 30 hours per week or 1,560 hours per year that I spend plopped firmly on my butt in front of the TV. That is a lot of time. I’m just 10 hours per week short of having a second full-time job, WATCHING TV.

 Think of the vast amounts of “life change” you could fill into those 30 hours per week. It’s insane to decide not to watch ANY TV, but what if you could cut that time in half? 780 hours per year could probably make some pretty major changes happen. If you love TV, keep watching, just moderate it. Don’t waste time watching ESPN News loop itself for 2 hours (guilty).

Another great thing to do is to buy a DVR from your local cable provider, Dish Network or DirecTV. If you don’t subscribe to pay TV, you can use a computer or a Tivo to record your favorite shows. A DVR acts as a digital video recorder and allows you to record your favorite shows and watch them later. You can go through and tell the DVR when and what to record. If you love ten shows, record all ten. Then every night set a “TV time” from say 9-11 for you to kick back and watch your favorite shows. Did I mention you can also skip the commercials? With a DVR you can fast forward and skip the commercials. That one hour episode of CSI is now only 40 minutes long. That 30 minute episode of Big Bang Theory, now a short and sweet 20 minutes. You just reduced a half hour of television off your schedule. That’s enough to add a whole extra show to your two hour viewing block.

The DVR devices range from $5-$13 per month in fees. But it will be money well spent because of the time it will save you, and the ability to schedule your TV viewing around your schedule is well worth it. Remember, we want to cut out unnecessary spending, but add spending that makes our lives simpler and helps us achieve our life change. If you don’t watch much TV now, it may not be worth the investment, but for the majority, it is a wise investment.

The DVR is not just about changing your habits and making life simpler. You are now watching TV smarter. You are watching on your schedule and by eliminating commercials, you are implementing huge change. You are now scheduling your life while maintaining something you enjoy. You can effectively watch three hours of TV in two hours with the ad skipping features, freeing up more time for “life change” events. You know how earlier I said you have to make the time? Well, I just made you an hour. You’re welcome.

So, we have trimmed the fat from our TV viewing. We are saving 30% just by using the DVR and skipping the ads. We now need to deduct the shows that we won’t really miss. This may lead you to some tough choices if you are a big TV guy like me. What we truly want here is to get down to 12 hours per week or so, which, if you have a DVR device, means we need to find approximately 18 hours of programming. Try to avoid overscheduling so that you don’t fall into the trap of watching more just because it is there. I don’t need to watch Tosh.O but I will if I have 20 episodes just sitting there. Choose the stuff that you really enjoy. Choose the shows that your colleagues will be talking about around the water cooler. I am sure some of you think it is trivial to spend so much time on TV, but as with everything, a little planning can save HUGE time later on.

  • Count up how many hours of TV you view per week.

  • Try to cut the hours you watch TV by half.

  • Schedule your television viewing.

  • Check into a DVR device for your television provider.

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