Start, Stop & Change: too much TV

Come Monday morning, I often hear people say they feel like they’re in the fog of a TV-watching hangover.

What about you? Are you coming off a weekend of too much TV watching?

  • Do you feel guilty for having spent so much time passively on the couch, consuming rather than creating?
  • Do you feel upset with yourself for the hours of wasted time when you could have been working on a goal that matters?
  • Do you feel sheepish for having used TV to procrastinate on something you needed to get done?

I think it’s fine to spend time on activities—even TV watching—that recharge.

But the key is knowing when it crosses the line from a temporary escape that recharges you to a mindless escape you get stuck in.

How much is enough? Do you know? Here are four questions that might help:

  1. Do you know exactly how many hours of TV you watch a week? Do an audit over the next week or two. Don’t change your normal TV-watching habits and keep a log of how many hours you spend viewing. Just like a food journal, we sometimes have no idea how much of something we’re really doing unless we track it.
  2. Ask yourself: Do I feel energized after watching TV? You may feel like you have no energy to do anything BUT watch TV. The reality, though, is many feel even less energized after watching than before. Think about it: Laying passively on the couch with only eyeballs moving is not an energy-giving activity.
  3. What would be possible if you created rather than consumed? Imagine replacing the time you consume content (such as watching TV) with creating content in a creative pursuit. If you ever complain you’ve lost touch with your creativity, here’s your chance to reconnect. If you dial down the amount you consume, what will you have time to create?
  4. What’s your quota? Figure out ahead of time how much is enough. Rather than get caught up in how you feel in the moment, figure out your TV-watching quota in advance—within the context of what you want for your best self and your best life. Whether you decide your limit is two hours a week or ten, stick to it.

Here’s the bottom line: Watching other people’s lives play out on TV is not the same as living.

Here’s your mini mission

Think about the difference between consuming and creating. Experiment with doing less of the former and more of the latter.