How to Break Your TV Habit

I watch about 11 hours of TV a week at this point. In the fall, I’ll probably be down to 5 or 6, the way the networks are scheduling. My goal is to limit my viewing only to those shows I really love. But how do you break the habit of plopping down and just watching whatever is on from 8-11?

Summer is right around the corner, and the TV season is about to end, so now is the perfect time to break the habit.

Saying Goodbye to TV Shows You Don’t Like Anymore

It’s easy to say goodbye when the show has worn out its welcome. If you find yourself flipping through magazines or wandering away from the TV in the middle of a scene, you know it’s time to cut it from your schedule. This year was my last year for Heroes. I tried, I really did, but it’s just not working anymore.

Saying Goodbye to Daily TV Shows You Still Like

It can be a bit tougher when you still really like the show. That’s me and the Daily Show and Colbert Report. I do still love those shows most of the time. Since we have a DVR, I only watch the first half of each show, and I love the weeks when it’s not on. I don’t know how much longer I’ll continue to watch, but for now I’m keeping it, just watching less.

Saying Goodbye to Weekly TV Shows You Still Like

Try this next fall: don’t check the schedule to see when the show returns. Don’t buy the TV Guide preview, and don’t watch a lot of TV during the summer to avoid the previews. Delete it from your DVR.

If you get to mid-October and are wondering what’s happening on the show, catch up online and see if you still care enough to watch it. If it’s not a show you really value, odds are good you won’t even remember you’re not watching it.

Plan Your Viewing

I may be weird, but I plan my viewing, especially now that I have a DVR. I have a rule that I write from 9-10 weeknights, and not much gets in the way of that. I use the DVR to allow me to watch the stuff I like from 10-11. This only allows one hour per day of TV, plus the Daily Show, which we watch during dinner.

Fill the Time

Rather than mindlessly watch whatever is on in place of your usual shows, fill the time with something else. Visit the library to stock up on books. Sit outside with your spouse or kids and look at the stars or just enjoy the night. Play games with your family. Play Wii. Take up a hobby. Do something besides sit on the couch and stare at the box. Once not watching TV becomes a habit, it will be more difficult to fall back into the TV watching habit.

Don’t Let “Water Cooler Talk” Suck You In

I’m the rare person who has never seen one single episode of American Idol. I’ve never seen a single episode of the Bachelor or Bachelorette. Ditto for Grey’s Anatomy, CSI, or several other hot shows. You know what? I don’t feel out of the loop. Maybe it’s just my office, but no one I work with talks about TV shows the next day. None of my friends talk about TV shows. You will find other things to talk about.

And remember, you can always catch a show on Hulu or on DVD if you really love it and miss not watching it. In fact, watching it online or DVD is better in some ways because you can pause it or watch it all at once – no waiting a week to find out what happens next. Plus, it’s only 42 minutes – that alone saves you a quarter of an hour.

I envision a day when all shows are available on demand and we can pick and choose only what we like when we want to watch it. Until that day, it’s up to use to break the TV habit and reclaim our time. If these tips don’t work for you, check out last year’s ideas for watching less TV.

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