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Turn Off The TV If You Want More Time

By Barbara Bartlein

Looking for more time? Glance no further than the TV. The latest research on television viewing demonstrates that the average American watches 1,669 hours of the tube each year. That is about 70 days per year according to the Statistical Abstract of the United States.

That's right, 10 weeks per year; watching television. The study does not include all the hours the TV is simply in the background adding to the noise pollution. It's direct viewing time. Mind numbing time watching re-runs, reality TV and commercials.

This is time you never get back. These are hours that could be used to learn something new, be with your kids, exercise and weight train, give back to community, or read a book. For that matter, you could write a book. It is hours for tennis, golf, travel, hobbies and sports. Or here's an idea, time to do something that makes you money. I never receive checks from the television stations for watching re-runs of MASH or Seinfield. In fact, I rarely even remember the next day anything I watched the night before.

TV has a hypnotic effect on people. A passive activity, it doesn't require any interaction or much thinking. It makes folks feel lethargic, lazy and dull. I can't prove it, but I think TV dumbs me down. When I watch more than hour or so of TV, I lose my momentum and drive. I don't feel like starting projects or working on anything that takes too much effort. All I feel like doing is watching more TV and maybe opening up a bag of chips, preferably with some dip to go with it.

Is watching TV all bad? Of course not. It provides entertainment and a diversion. It can be an excellent way to relax a bit after a busy day. But we aren't reaching 10 weeks per year with just a little viewing. The TV habit can interfere with living a life. So how do you wean off the tube?

"Log the habit. How do you stack up against the national averages? Only one way to really know, and that is to write down your TV time for one week. Is there a pattern? You may find that you are watching a lot more than you realized.

"Start with a "no-TV night one or two nights per week. No TV, zip, zilch. Go for a walk, bring out some games to play with the kids, or read a book. At first, you may see a family of "zombies as they wander aimlessly unplugged from one activity to another. But you will be amazed how quickly everyone adjusts to other activities.

"Take a class. Any class. It can be one that gives you additional skills to advance your career, or one that broadens your interests. A literature review, a foreign language or simply relaxing making pottery will do more for you than watching folks with minimal talent compete on American Idol.

"Organize a project. This can be with other family members or by yourself. It can include cooking, baking, household chores, working outside, building something, painting, crafts, quilting, etc. Think about the best days you have. Chances are good that they are days you were able to complete your "to do list.

"Identify a replacement goal. What do you plan to do with all your "new time? This is a great opportunity to focus on something you have been "meaning to do but never had the time to accomplish. It could be that garden or reading the classics. You may try that sailing class you have talked about for the last ten years.

Time is the most important non-renewable resource we have. Don't lose a fifth of your life doing nothing.

Copyright 2005 by Barbara Bartlein. All Rights Reserved.

About The Author
Barbara Bartlein, CSP, is The People Pro and President of Great Lakes Consulting Group. She can be reached at 888-747-9953 or by e-mail at Visit her website at


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