30 Ways to Make TV Watching More Productive


August 19, 2011   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Do you ever hear yourself saying “I just don’t have time” yet find yourself plopped in front of the TV for the better part of every evening?

As our to-do lists grow so does our stress and anxiety over getting everything done. While we can’t add any more time to our day (unfortunately) we can use the time we do have in a more productive manner. Let’s face it watching TV isn’t that interactive or demanding. Below are 30 simple little ways to make the most of your TV watching time.

Things you can do while watching TV:

    • Fold laundry – Plop the basket beside you and fold while you watch.


  • Iron – Drag the ironing board and iron out into the living room and turn that mundane task into something that’s a little more bearable.



  • Give or get a massage – Lay on the couch or get on the floor with your significant other and give a back rub or foot massage. At each commercial break switch it up just to keep it fair.



  • Stretch – Get down on the floor and stretch your legs, your back, and your arms. You’ll feel great and if you’re an avid TV watcher I’m pretty confident your flexibility will improve in a matter of a few weeks.



  • Write out a meal plan for the week – Brainstorm some meal ideas for the coming week. You can take it a step further and create a list of go-to meals or meals you can make ahead and freeze.



  • Brainstorm for a new business, a holiday, or activities to do with the kids – Don’t filter ideas just write them down as they come to mind. Sometimes the best ideas come to us when we’re not focused on finding the best ideas.



  • Write out your Birthday cards or Christmas cards – Don’t wait until the last minute to get your cards done. For most of us it takes quite a bit of time, so doing even a few each evening can lighten the load.



  • Put pictures in a picture album – I’m sure I’m not the only one with a tub full of pictures that I don’t know what to do with. Grab the tub of photos and start putting them in photo albums. If you want to sort them first, use a few nights of TV watching to do just that.


Things you can do during commercials:

    • Pack the dishwasher – It doesn’t take long and even if there is a pile you can do it over multiple breaks. Don’t have a dishwasher? No problem. Break one: Fill the sink with warm soapy water and let the dishes soak. Break two (maybe three): Wash the dishes. After that dry them and put them away. Done.


  • 10 sit-ups 10 push-ups 10 squats – TV watching is a sedentary sport. Get on the ground and get active during the commercials. It doesn’t have to be much just move.



  • Take out the garbage – Grab a garbage bag and go throughout the house emptying the smaller bins into it. Take the full bags outside to the garage or back door for garbage day.



  • Do a quick reset of the room you’re in – Commercial breaks aren’t long but it’s amazing how much you can get done. Pick up shoes, toys, books, magazines, dishes etc. and put them where they belong.



  • Address a letter, stamp it and put it in your bag for tomorrow – Mailing letters is one task that seems to continually slip my mind. Use the commercial break to put your letter or bill payment in an envelope address it and put it in your bag so you can mail it tomorrow.



  • Drink a glass of water – If you’re like most people you’re not drinking as much water as you should be each day. Get a tall glass add ice and fill it with cold water.



  • Floss your teeth – This takes very little time and is something most of us don’t do often enough. It’s a little action that can be great for your health.



  • Dust the furniture in the room you’re in – Grab a microfiber cloth, an old sock or damp rag and run it over all flat surfaces in the room. Get under the keyboard and the DVD player. Get the top of the TV, picture frames and the backs of your chairs.



  • Clean a bathroom – Fill the sink with warm soapy water, spray the tub and toilet, let it soak until the next commercial and it’ll clean up super easy.



  • Make a sandwich for tomorrow – The key to a smooth sailing morning is to start the night before. Make a sandwich or put together a salad, dole out some yogurt and grab a piece of fruit throw it in your bag for tomorrow and you’re set to just head out the door!



  • Bathroom break – Enough said …



  • Send a quick email – 2.5 to 3 minutes is usually long enough to get an email put together, if not you could get a good first draft started at least.



  • Read a few pages of your book or a blog post – Hit the mute button grab your book or fire up your feed-reader.



  • Write your to-do list – Give a bit of thought to what you’ll do tomorrow. Think about errands that need to be run, calls that need returning, gifts to be bought and what to have for dinner.



  • Choose clothes to wear tomorrow – Run to your room and decide what to wear tomorrow. Choose clothes that fit you well and that you feel great in.



  • Let the dogs out – Most dogs will jump at the chance to get outside even it’s only for a few minutes. Do it.



  • Purge a drawer or filing cabinet – Choose a drawer that’s close to where you’re sitting and pull everything out of it. Toss or recycle what you don’t absolutely need and put items you no longer use, need or like in a pile to donate. Put the remaining items back in an organized manner.



  • Make your bed – Even if it’s half an hour before bed go and make it. It’s awesome getting into a bed that’s made the sheets pulled tight, comforter straightened and the pillows fluffed up a bit. Heaven.



  • Make a quick phone call – Call your mom, your sister, your brother or friend and make or confirm plans for tomorrow.



  • Get changed into work out clothes – If you’ve settled in for a night of TV odds are you won’t be too excited about the thought of exercise. During the first commercial break get changed into your work out gear so by the end of the show you’re good to go for a bit of a work out.



  • Get a healthy snack – Grab a piece of fruit, trail mix or yogurt. Make healthy choices, keep your snack size to something smaller than your fist to keep you from over-eating and eating mindlessly.



  • Press mute and just sit in silence – There are very few moments during our day when we can truly sit back and enjoy the silence. Press mute and just enjoy how quiet and still everything is around you.


There are a lot of ways to be productive with very small bursts of time. Sure, you can Tivo your way passed the commercials but you may just be fast forwarding by a quick opportunity to get something done!

Choose one or two items on this list to do each evening and you just may be surprised at how many little extras you can get done.

Written on 9/26/2010 by Sherri Kruger. Sherri writes at Zen Family Habits, a blog celebrating all things family. Sherri also writes on personal development at Serene Journey, a blog dedicated to sharing simple tips to enjoy life. Republished on 8/20/2011. Photo Credit: SFB579

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