Taming the TV monster: 4 easy ways to reduce TV watching

How to reduce TV watching

There are volumes written on how to reduce TV watching and movie consumption in kids (4,000 studies on the topic as of 2009). But what about adults?

According to Nielsen, American adults average about 5 hours of television watching per day. Since this average is for a 7-day week, that amounts to the equivalent of another full time job in TV watching.

Reduce TV watching: cartoon of man endlessly change tv channels with remote
Source: https://www.leocampasso.com.ar/

Even when the plea is made to consider reduced television viewing, I rarely see a discussion on how to choose what to watch and what not to watch. And this is where I struggle. 

Lately, I am not much of a TV or movie watcher.

I have spent way more time on social media than watching shows or movies. But I still want to live deliberately and intentionally, and one big part of that is choosing what to watch proactively and not simply scrolling through Netflix hoping that something interesting comes up. I am not alone in this scrolling. Netflix users spend an average of 18 minutes before figuring out what we want to watch.

Also, I know myself well enough to know that as I tone down my consumption of social media and the news, I will be looking to fill the void. Although I hope to cultivate some productive hobbies, I am simply not interested in a lot of things. Therefore, it would be easy to fill the space with Netflix. It has happened in the past. To avoid this, I want to be really thoughtful about the meaning of value in my life, and what adds it. However, I also want to leave room for levity.

My plan to reduce TV watching:

  1. Clear out all my film lists completely. As I mentioned before, I have too many lists. They are made up of things that I scroll by and think sound interesting. But they leave me with an overwhelming feeling of things I *should* watch. This causes much anxiety, and i often ignore the lists anyway.
  2. The Dude and I are curating a separate list of things we really want to see. This is quite different from the video streaming lists. I choose from what is available, put in front of me, and sounds okay. Following the 90% rule, a lot of the things that end up on my Netflix queue would be 6s or 7s, or even lower. We made a list of things we are actively interested in, whether they are available on our lists or not.
  3. I will use the library more. Remember DVDs? The library does! And it has a bunch of them to borrow. The streaming sites often don’t have the things I really want to watch, so I default to what is available, even if that won’t add much value to my life. Instead, we will borrow things from the library from our *actually want to watch* list.
  4. The other advantage of borrowing from the library is that it is time delimited. We will watch the things on the DVD and then stop. We aren’t dumped into a “watch next” vortex.

Still deciding what to watch

I still have some things to figure out, most specifically what constitutes viewing that adds value. But I am making progress. This pause in the internet is definitely giving me some time and space to think about it all.

I made a change at the beginning of week 2 of my fast. I have reined in my texting and Google Hangouts a lot. Now, I am striving to check them (and personal email) at 9am, 12 pm, 3 pm, and 5 pm. And maybe once or twice at night after work. So far I am not able to be this rigid, but I am definitely checking less frequently and putting my phone in my bag in between checks. The first week of my detox, I averaged about two hours per day on my phone (including weekends). This past week, it was under 1 hour a day.

Blog pause

In the third and fourth weeks of the challenge, I will be writing my blog posts on notepads and will type them up on the computer after my fast is over. The blog writing and searching for links is starting to violate the spirit of the fast.

So with this post, I will be signing off for a couple of weeks. Happy Thanksgiving to those who are celebrating it this week. I will have update posts and other topics in December!