It seems October and November almost rival January as a time for giving up bad habits (Stoptober, Movember, Go Sober). So I thought it was time to reflect on what I gave up just over a year ago: TV. I can honestly say I’ve never been happier and have not missed it for a second. At this point, I should mention that I am lucky enough to have a cinematic projector and screen as big as my bedroom wall, so I haven’t entirely given up watching things, but I only watch films and documentaries.
One of the first questions our marketing manager, Brian, asked me was: “what do you do with your time instead?” To which my answer was a long list of things, all of which are much more exciting than sitting in front of a box.
Working in market research I am surrounded by many types of media, and am lucky enough to be able to step back and look at them in a more objective way. Still, for most of us, we are met with a constant bombardment of visuals, noise and messaging, all of which leave the human brain overloaded. Now, the brain is a wonderful thing, but I think mine, and yours, could benefit from some downtime. Here are some of the benefits the “downtime” of not having a TV has given me
- I don’t waste time. The TV is such a marvellously easy distraction from boredom – but it’s such a passive activity that it can easily become boring in itself
- When I am at home I have the choice to only consume the advertising that I WANT to consume. I don’t have to sit through tedious ad breaks – and don’t have the risk of having to take in subliminal messaging telling me what to buy
- I have a tonne of new hobbies (who knew learning Gotye’s “Somebody that I Used to Know” on the ukulele would become such a weekday evening delight)
- I communicate better with my boyfriend and housemates – there are no half-hearted conversations while we stare at the TV – we sit at the table and properly engage with each other
- I can concentrate better. For the first time in years I can focus on reading a book with tiny writing and many pages – putting a bit of effort into what you enjoy increases the enjoyment tenfold
- I sleep better – my eyes are rested by the time I slink up to bed.
- I am much more active. Yes, I have a cosy sofa to lie on, but what I now stare at are interesting, inspiring books and pictures that focus on getting out and enjoying life
In general, I’d say my mental and physical wellbeing has improved as a result of giving up something that previously took up so much of my time. My life is more exciting and I am yet to get in from work, slump onto the sofa and think “I really wish I could switch the TV and watch The One Show”. Now, the idea of never watching TV again might not float your boat, but I bet everyone can think of something they do that is a time sinkhole. So, give something up, you don’t know how full your life might become.