Taking Back Your Time

About a month ago, my husband and I realized that we seem to watch more TV during the summer when there’s supposedly “nothing on.” In fact, it got so bad that I was eager for the fall season to start so I’d have less to watch (which actually isn’t true, it’s just spaced better.) When I realized that I was resenting the shows I watched, or not paying attention, I decided to take action and reclaim some of my time.

Set Priorities
The first thing I did was set priorities. Is this episode of Weeds more important to me than an hour of writing time? No, so I taped Weeds and can watch when I’m doing other stuff.

Here are my priorities:
Clean the house for company – did that while “watching” Top Chef. I really only care about the end of each episode anyway at this point.
Write – I’m trying to finish a personal project by September 6, but I can only write from 9-10 p.m., so that’s my sacred writing time. I don’t surf the internet, read email, or watch TV during that time. I save the TV for later and avoid doing the former as much as possible. It works.
Hem the drapes – I pinned them while “watching” Psych last night. I’ll start sewing the others a little at a time while I watch TV from 10-11 each night or while catching up on movies this weekend. I love holiday weekends!
Paint the bathroom – obviously, this can’t be done while watching TV, so I’m just going to dive in.

I have lots of other projects, but these are my priorities. Once I realized that I wasn’t really invested in all those TV shows anymore, it was easy to watch them while doing other things. At this point, some of them merely serve as background noise while working on various projects. When I made my slipcovers, I watched several seasons of Deadliest Catch and quite a few movies, just to have the noise. It worked perfectly.

Do You Watch to Watch or Because You’re Bored?
And other shows, well, I’ve just cut them. Wipeout is my guilty pleasure at the start of each summer, but by about eight episodes, it gets redundant. I’ll catch a few minutes here and there, but I feel no guilt for deleting them from the DVR unwatched now. Other shows, like Burn Notice and Eureka, I watch to watch. Those I set time aside for.

I tend to be more involved with the shows I watch in the winter and fall, but I’m actually more selective with those. For example, I’ve decided not to add any new programs this year. Last year I added Modern Family, V, and Caprica, but I’m rather relieved that the latter two aren’t coming back until spring and may not end up watching them anyway. I’m realizing that my time is worth more to me than those shows. When I’m bored, I’ll watch something off the DVR, but I don’t turn on the TV in primetime and watch whatever’s on anymore. Sorry, TV, you’re just not that interesting anymore.

TV is a time-suck for me. You might have other time sucks. If you feel like you’re wasting time, think hard about your priorities. Are there are other things that are more important? If yes, then start by reducing the amount of time you spend on the activity. Then skip it a week. If you don’t miss it, keep skipping it. There, you just got your time back. If you do miss it, then you might have to reconsider your priorities.

What About What Other People Think?
For some reason, people in my office don’t talk about TV. Either they rent them all on DVD after the season is over, or we have other things to talk about. My husband’s office does talk about TV, but usually it’s not an issue. You just have to find other things to talk about. Some people may even be impressed that you watch so little TV!

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