When I first bought my home, one of the major decisions I made was to not order cable TV. I chose this path for several reasons. First, most success gurus issued stern warnings of the productivity killing effects of watching tv. Basically, television shows are a major distraction and, if you’re an ambitious person with clear goals, you should stay as far away from them as possible.
This advice worked for me. I spent hours on the computer focused on my future empire. But, over time, a bunch of websites started popping up that allowed me to “watch tv” without the need for cable. Slowly, but surely, my productivity began to slide. I needed a way to find a balance between watching my favorite reality shows and continuing my personal growth journey.
Now that we’re headed into fall viewing season, I want to be even more intentional. So I’ve figured out a way to enjoy the shows I love and still get things done.
The strategy is pretty simple. Avoid single-tasking when watching online tv. In the modern era of binge watching, one of the worst mistakes we make is doing absolutely nothing while gorging on entire seasons of our favorite shows. Hours or days can slip by and we’ll have nothing to show for it other than extensive knowledge of the lives of fictional characters.
To combat this, I’ve decided to implement a few simple rules that allow me to be productive while being entertained.
#1: Do I actually need to watch it or can I just listen to it?
Here’s something I discovered. I can “watch” a show without actually watching it. Certain programs don’t really require me to be sitting down with my eyes glued to the screen. Just listening to it provided nearly the same level of value. When this happens, I forbid myself from just sitting there. Instead, I’ll view the show on my Ipad or, other portable device, plug in some speakers, and let it play while I clean the house or make dinner. Nothing is better than being entertained while knocking out my daily chores. Since implementing this little tip, my house is much cleaner and organized. What more can I ask for?
#2: Do I have to actually to sit and watch it?
Some videos do require me to actually pay attention to what’s happening on screen. When this happens, my next question is “do I have to sit for this?” If the answer is no then I have the option of fitting in a little bit of physical activity during the show. When I’m watching Instagram stories, for example, I have to look at the screen, otherwise, I miss out on most of the content. But instead of laying on the couch watching Instagram stories, I jump on my trampoline and bounce. This is a perfect form of exercise because it’s non-strenuous which allows me to do it for a long time. There have been times when I’ve bounced for an equivalent of 2-3 miles in one session of watching Instagram videos. I’m getting a workout while detoxing my body and getting caught up on social media all at once. This is just one example. I’ve done planks during a commercial break or sit-ups, squats, and lunges. There are a ton of exercises we can do while sitting in front of a tv. Let’s get to it.
#3: Can I be doing something else while I sit here?
Normally, I frown on multitasking because of how it drains productivity. But when you’re watching a show, multitasking makes complete sense. Let’s say I’m watching an episode of Million Dollar Listings. I like this program because it showcases high-end luxury homes. I watch it to get inspiration for interior decor. So while I’m sitting there, I’ll execute mundane tasks that don’t require a lot of focus/concentration. Maybe I’ll paint my nails or fold some clothes. Or utilize the time to do a steam facial or mud mask. Perhaps now would be a good opportunity to sort through and shred my junk mail. Basically, any chore that can be done while sitting still should be incorporated while watching your favorite show.
#4. Can I also work on improving my life?
Lastly, there’s the aspect of working on ways to make your life better. Everything I listed before helps improve our daily lives but one thing missing is the planning & creation aspect. On Sundays, while hubby watched football, I’d sit next to him with a planner in hand and would write my tasks for the week. It started off simple, maybe I’d do some meal planning. Then I’d list a rough overview of the important tasks for the week. Soon, I started thinking about incorporating my “One Thing Different” actions to ensure the upcoming week was better than the last. Sometimes, I’ll do a weekly review/reflection and notate what went well that week and what should be my focus in the week ahead. It doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal just a simple way to assess where things are versus where you want them to be.
There are work related tasks that I can knock out while watching tv. My action plan for today is to make a quick list of those tasks so I can have them handy when I need it. Some of the things I do require focused attention and dedicated time. But, there are also a bunch of stuff I can do while catching up on videos that aren’t that interesting or engaging. I tend to forget that while I’m watching Real Housewives, I can also do some social media posting or answering basic emails.
It’s all about balance. If all you do is work, it’s a good idea to indulge in your favorite shows as a way of unplugging from the stress. But when you find yourself indulging a little too much, at least you can still be somewhat productive. Instead of letting things fall apart while you watch hours of programming, why not use that time to also improve on your life?