I love TV.
A good proportion of my life is made up of watching TV.
When I come home from work, I stick on the kettle and watch TV. If I’m bored, I watch TV. If I’m sick, I watch TV. If I have to do something boring, like clean my room or cook a big meal, I watch TV. When I eat lunch or dinner at home, I eat it in front of the TV. Sometimes I even watch Netflix on my phone when I’m coming home from town.
All told, I’d probably watch at least three hours per day of TV on average.
I know this isn’t a productive use of my time. I’ve been able to limit myself to only watching TV after 6pm most days, but it still bothers me to think of all this wasted time.
I have all these plans to do things, like learn new skills online, read more books, and write but I find I don’t have the time. And yet, there are three hours of my day essentially wasted.
So I decided, as an experiment, to try to go a week without watching TV.
Here’s what happened:
I read a lot more...
Without TV, I needed some way to fill my evenings when I came home. Of course, the problem is that after a day of work and an hour-long commute home I generally find I don’t have the energy to be productive anyway.
So I read.
It was nice doing something different. My boyfriend got out his book too and we sat together reading in front of the fire. In fact, it was so nice that we’ve decided that even after the experiment, we’re going to try to have a book night at least once a week.
The downside was that reading is anti-social in a way that TV isn’t. Often my family will all come in together to watch a movie or one of the series that we’re following on Netflix, like The Crown or Planet Earth.
When I got bored and wanted to read my book, people told me I was being rude.
I wasn’t really that productive...
The courses I wanted to do online? I didn’t start a single one of them. I cooked exactly once. I avoided cleaning my room.
All my grand plans had one fatal flaw. I didn’t just watch TV because I preferred doing that to anything else. I generally watched TV at the end of the day as a reward for being productive earlier, when I no longer had the ability to concentrate.
Without having TV to look forward to, I felt a bigger dread trying to get through my to-do list. What did I get to do when I finished? Just read a book? Exciting.
I was a lot more stressed...
The week started great. I felt really good about my decision not to watch TV, enjoying the amount of time I’d managed to take back in my day.
The first few days I went to the gym, stayed out for longer, and read in order to fill time.
But by around Wednesday, I became aware of the fact that little things that used to give me a flicker of annoyance began to actively stress me out – things like my dog barking, the living room being left in a mess, or people on the Dart home.
I came home on Saturday and felt incredibly antsy. Everything irritated me. I couldn’t relax. I also felt worn down, partly from the fact that I’d avoided going home most days in order to avoid watching TV so I’d been out a lot.
Then, at around 8pm, I gave in and watched an episode of The Office.
I instantly felt better.
I regretted not being able to make it to Monday with my challenge, but the thought of facing into Saturday night not being able to wind down seemed too daunting.
So, what did I learn?
Well, it turns out that the time I spent watching TV wasn’t a complete waste. It made boring tasks bearable. It was a reward for working hard.
It’s my way to relax.
A lot of people have their own ways to de-stress. For some people that’s drinking, or playing video games, or eating. By comparison, TV isn’t the worst thing.
I wish I was the kind of person who relaxed by running or baking, but that’s just not who I am.
I could definitely stand to watch less TV, and after this week I’m going to make a more active effort to do that.
At least we’ll always have book night.