Finding more time in your day or week is one of the best ways to bring balance to a busy life. Time is the one resource that you can never get more of, and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. I don’t know of many moms who ever feel like they have enough time to get everything done!
The advice in this post might be a radical change for you, or it may be pretty easy – it all depends on your current lifestyle. My husband and I implemented this ourselves over six years ago. Initially, I didn’t think I would like it and I thought it would be tough for me, but honestly, after a week or two of changed habits, I barely missed it.
So how do you recapture 10+ hours of your week, each week?
Set a limit to your TV viewing time. And by TV viewing I am including cable or dish, Netflix, YouTube TV, and all those other app streaming services via phone, computer or tablet!
When I was growing up (this was way before streaming TV – we are talking party line phones, dial-up internet, and giant PCs with 5 ½ inch floppy discs!), my family never had cable and we rarely went to the movies. We had an extremely basic TV with “rabbit ears” and four channels. I always joked that it was two and two half channels since half of them were so full of static that the picture and sound were barely worth the effort. So instead of watching TV when I was young, I spent my time reading books or running around outside which, looking back, was an awesome way to spend my childhood.
However, I never could join in any conversations regarding TV shows or movies with my friends and I often felt I was missing out. When I moved off to college, I spent much more time than ever before hanging out with friends in front of the TV. Even though I still did not feel like I needed to watch TV, it was nice to finally feel included in what everyone else was talking about. I am also a fan of Red Wings hockey and was happy that I was finally able to watch the games. Soon enough, I found myself spending a significant amount of time in front of the TV. Anyone who watches hockey (or sports in general), knows just how much time those games can eat up. For hockey specifically, you are looking at seven months of regular season, plus another 2-3 months for preseason and playoffs (if your team is so lucky). Teams generally play 2-3 games per week and each game takes around 2-3 hours. That comes to a minimum of 246 hours (or 10 ¼ days) of your life watching regular season hockey alone each year. That is a lot of time spent in front of the TV!
I was looking up some stats and a recent survey states that Americans spend an average of 5 hours per day watching TV, which adds up to 35 hours per week! That’s over a day each week devoted to television, and almost as many hours as we spend working each week. (Personally I have no idea how this is even possible….I know I don’t have time in my day anymore for even one hour of routine TV). It is also estimated that the average American will spend 15 years of their life watching TV. If the average American lives to 79 years of age, that means 18.9% of your life was spent watching TV. And we know that how you spend your time is actually how you end up spending your life. So do you really want 18.9% of the free time in your life to be spent staring at a screen?
And when we are watching TV, what are we even watching? Other than sports, I know I personally had spent much of my TV time rewatching things I had already seen! Just think, how often have you sat down in front of the TV and flipped channels just to “kill time” or because you were bored or needed something mindless to do, only to end up on a movie you have already seen ten times? You know it so well that nothing surprises you, you can recite all the lines, and yet you still spend two hours of your life watching it again. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why?
Now my husband and I still enjoy TV entertainment, mostly through Netflix or the Amazon Fire TV, but our time spent viewing is much decreased from what it was. Over six years ago (this was pre-kids), we noticed that as our priorities in life changed, we were naturally starting to spend less time watching TV and decided to cancel our Dish Network service. I was initially against it, because I loved watching shows like House Hunters International and my Detroit Red Wings, but Rob convinced me to give it a shot and see what happened. The first two weeks were spent breaking habits. Instead of mindlessly kicking my feet up in front of the TV at the end of the day, I would pick up a book, spend some time catching up with a friend on the phone, or work on a project which I had been procrastinating (since I “didn’t have the time for it” before). After two weeks we found we really didn’t miss the TV at all. And even though it was mid-hockey season, I actually felt a sense of freedom by not feeling like I had to make time for every game.
Now I am not saying that you have to give up your service entirely as we did, but think about how you can cut back on your viewing time, and make the time you do spend viewing very intentional. Make sure it is a show worthy of your limited time and attention. If you simply cut your TV time by one third, the average American would get over 10 hours of their week back, each and every week. Cut it by half and you get about 17 hours back! Just think of what you could do with that time!
Cutting back on your TV time will not only allow you to find hours in your week to spend on more important tasks (like playing with your kids, spending time with your spouse, getting healthy, relaxing with more productive hobbies, getting yourself organized once and for all, tackling all those projects you never have time for, etc.), but it will also save you money. You won’t have to pay for as many services or channels if you only keep the ones which really matter to you. Or you might not have to pay for the service at all if you give it up like we did. You will also be less tempted by ads you see on TV which can reduce your spending on things you “must have!” but certainly don’t need. I have also found that less TV decreases stress by not exposing you to unrealistic life expectations (the perfect body, the perfect life, having a perfect home, having the perfect child, keeping up with the Joneses/Kardashians, etc.).
Less TV helps you live the life you were meant to live and want to have, not the one society thinks you should be living.
My goal for you this week is to see how much screen time you can cut out of your life. I also want you to make a list of all the things you would like to (or have been intending to) get done but just could not find the time for before. Then spend some of your newly freed up time getting those other things accomplished. Try it for one week and see how productive you are! I would love to hear about your accomplishments in the comments below.
All the best,
P.S. If you enjoy these posts and find the tips helpful, there are nine more easy to implement tips in my free guide – Overcoming Overwhelm: 9 Key Areas to Find Balance and Bring You to the Life You Deserve! Download it for free by entering your email address in the blue box below.