In my previous article, Give Up TV Now, I introduced the concept of freeing yourself from the clutches of TV. Here are some practical tips to help get you on your way.
1. Remove the TV From Your Room
The TV really serves no purpose in your room. When I was young, sure, it was cool to have a TV in my room. Now, the concept of having a TV in my room is alien to me. The bed is reserved for sleep and sex. Anything other activities only serve as distractions that yield restless sleep, especially if you want to become an early riser.
Watching the news or a violent TV show in particular prior to sleeping will only disturb your subconscious and you’ll end up taking those images with you to sleep, whether you want to or not. If you live in a studio apartment or the like, make sure the TV isn’t facing the bed.
2. Reduce the Number of TV’s to One
When I was young, my family’s house had three TV’s, one TV short of one for every family member, and very often we’d all be separated into different rooms watching our own programs. Watching a TV program with my brother essentially separated us, as we zombified ourselves into the glowing world in front of us.
Having multiple TV’s only serve to divide up the family. Of course, the potential for conflict arises when everyone wants to watch a different program at the same time. Well, if you are reading this article and taking it to heart, I suggest you lead by example and give up your favorite programs or your “personal TV”. Try removing one TV from your house until you are down to one.
3. Cut the Time Spent Watching TV
How much do you spend a day watching TV? Tally up your favorite programs. Then tally up the other programs you let yourself drift into watching. Be honest here. Commercial time counts. Maybe you cook while watching or get some work done, but really, I’m betting it’s not that productive, or it would be much more productive minus the boob tube.
4. Simplify the Cable Package
How many channels are we up to now? Over 1000? Are we going to run into a Y2K problem where TV’s today don’t support digital channels over 4 digits? When I was at the tail end of giving up TV, all I had was an antenna, so I would get 1 channel in French, and 1 fuzzy channel I used to watch the occasional hockey game. Even then, I watched it too much and discarded the antenna. Having a plethora of high-resolution TV channels leaves one with far too many options for distraction. I’m sure you lived in an age where you had far less options and still watched too much TV, so I’m sure you’ll be able to revert to that period. I suggest going straight down from whatever you have to the basic cable package of about 10-15 channels.
5. Back Away From The TIVO
Don’t get a TIVO, or any similar personal TV recorder or TV on-demand package. It makes finding a program you can drone out to too easy. If you haven’t made the switch to digital cable, now’s the best time to give up TV. Record it old-school. Yes, with a VCR. Finding a VCR tape is half the fun. And if you have one of those VCR’s that belong in a museum, the ones that require 20 minutes and the original manual to program, even better. The more of a hassle it is to record a program, the less likely you’ll want to record it. Personal TV recorders leave too much room for straying. Don’t Download TV Shows Some shows can be watched later by streaming over the Internet, but obviously, this is the same as watching TV.
6. Don’t Turn On The TV When You Get Home
The easiest way to form a TV watching habit is to watch it once you get home from work. To the majority of us, work is uneventful, stressful, and tiring (see articles on career). We come home in a stupor from the long commute home, and trade the mindless routine of the day for the mindless routine of the evening. If you are not going to directly watch TV and use it for background noise while doing something else like cooking, try silence instead.
Cooking is actually excellent time to practice focus and being present. Having silence allows you open up your senses – listen to the water running, hear the sounds outside your home, smell the different aromas mix. Cooking is then converted from a menial task to an important time to recalibrate one’s mind.
7. Remove The TV Altogether
If you’ve followed the previous steps, you may arrive at this stage with a 52″ plasma TV and no cable package. If you have the discipline within yourself, I would strongly recommend this step over all the previous steps. It’s actually quite easy. Move it to the basement or storage, or sell it.
If you can go cold turkey right away, you might find out that it’s not that bad, so long as you find other activities to replace the gaping void. You’ll find it too much of a hassle to bring back the TV and set up cable, and if you do bring it back, at least you’ll consciously know that you’re breaking the habit.
8. Try Reading
Ah, reading. The long lost art. I know many people who haven’t picked up a book since high school. Replacing a bad habit with a good habit is much easier than just trying to eliminate a bad habit cold-turkey style. Avoid reading the news though. Instead, start with some fiction, but eventually, move to personal development books that make you think or help you grow.
Give yourself 30 days to materialize the habit. Try extending it to 60 days, after which you may choose to have it around to watch an occasional movie at home (try to keep it at one or two a month), a fitness video, or something beneficial to your personal development.
To avoid pitfalls or periods where boredom may takeover, put colored tape over your remote to further remind you to stick with your new habits.
If you used to watch 1 hour of TV a day, you now have 7 hours a week free to do something else. If you, like the average adults out there, watched 4 hours a day, you now have a staggering 28 hours freed up. For many, this enormous shift in free time may cause the mind to become extremely bored with real life, as that is its tendency, and it may seek other unproductive distractions.
I have many suggestions here. Take your pick: join a social sports league, take up a dance class, learn a language, read personal development books, write your goals, spend time with your family, meditate, paint, sing, take up photography, start a business.
The possibilities are endless.