Five Productive Ways To Blast Through Your TV Addiction

By Alex Shalman

October 27, 2008   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Family Watching TV

America holds the prize for the highest density of potatoes – couch potatoes that is. Don’t laugh at us, other countries will soon get there as we continue to send aid, televisions, and potato chips.

I think one reason we’re so susceptible to this is because we either can’t think of anything to do or because we just don’t feel like getting up.

Just to have a running definition of smart, we’ll say that it means “showing mental alertness and calculation and resourcefulness.” When you’re watching television you’re actually dulling your alertness, and not utilizing calculation skills. You have no need for resourcefulness other than figuring out a way to not get pizza grease on your remote control and that doesn’t always take priority either.

Television time in known as prime time. That’s generally the hours of 8pm to 10pm every evening during which the majority of people are at home, on the couch, and totally vegging out. We all know that TV watching is not exclusive to this time slot, so in reality an average person watches much more than 2 hours of television per day.

I’ve personally beaten down the TV habit and on the rare day that I’ll watch TV, it won’t be more than 5-10 minutes. I mentioned earlier that I think the main reason people watch so much TV is for the lack of something better to do (i.e. boredom). After doing some thinking, I’ve come up with some ways that I can enjoy life more and/or be more productive towards reaching my life goals, in the time I would have otherwise been watching TV. Here are some of the ways I chose…

Treating The TV Addiction

    • Thirty Day Experiment. Take it upon yourself to start a 30-day experiment, in which you will not watch a single minute of TV. After this month is complete, feel free to analyze the results and make an informed decision. After the 30 days, it’s solely up to your discretion if you want to go back to TV, or if you’ll take on a new, more fulfilling hobby. 
  • Journal Your Progress.In retrospect, it’s not always easy to see day-to-day progress because we simply and easily forget our experiences. Your mission will be to take a few minutes at the end of each day to write about how you spent your TV-free time, how you felt about this, and any other ideas that you have during this time period. 
  • Insert Good Habits. Whenever you’re taking out a bad habit, it is important to insert a good habit into the void. Otherwise, this void, which works like a vacuum, will suck you right back into your bad habits. Below I will list 5 things you can do during your prime time, other than watching TV. 
  • General Task List. Make sure you keep a general task list of things you can pick up and do at absolutely any time (much like the items you see in the list below). This way when you get a brain freeze and can’t think of your next action, and your daily to-do list is empty or requires action from someone else to begin, you’ll have something productive to do to fill in the time-gap.

5 Smarter-Than-TV Tasks

  • Clear You Mind (And Your Desk). It’s common sense that when you’re in a clean and organized environment that you’re mind will be clearer and more focused on the task at hand, instead of the mess at hand. Take a few minutes to make a clean-task-list in which you’ll categorize which areas of your work-area, or your home, need to be cleaned up.
  • Work Desk
  • File Drawers
  • Book shelves
  • Bathroom
  • Bedroom
  • Kitchen
  • Living Room, etc.

I know it can be mind-boggling to look at the way you’ve let your area go, which makes it hard to get started. However, if you take 15 minutes a day in order to speed-clean a certain area, it will make it much easier, or unnecessary to clean on “cleaning-day.” This is a task I love to do while plugged into an audio book or into some speedy techno music.

Other than organizing your living area, you’ll also want to organize your mind by having yourself a…

  • Mental Vomit (Onto Some Paper). One way to clear your mind and focus is to organize your physical environment. Another very useful way is to organize your internal environment. This includes sitting down with that ol’ pen and paper (or in my case MacJournal), and doing some major planning. Some of the things you can plan out are: 
  • Tomorrow’s Task List
  • Weekly Goals and Task List
  • Monthly Goals
  • Yearly Goals
  • 5 and 10 year Goals
  • List of things to-do before you kick the bucket.

At this point you must think I’m some kind of organization freak, even if I do only half of the things that are on this list. However, experience dictates a few very important facts about organizing your thoughts into task lists.

  1. If you trust your mind to remember what’s important, you’re going to forget.
  • If you keep too many open-loops of things you need to be doing, you’re going to procrastinate on getting them done. 
  • If you write it down, your much more likely to get it done.

Remember, planning is a time investment that earns huge dividends. Without constantly setting goals that make you reach outside of your comfort zone, you’re bound to settle into a life that is neither exciting nor anything greater than mediocre.

While measured output is a great way to spend time, another productive skill set to adopt is…

  • Read For Fun and Profit. What are YOU filling your brain with today? Is it the TV junk that’s all geared toward making you a top-of-the-line consumer, or hand-picked books that will improve your character, increase your knowledge, help you get some culture, and teach you skills that you’ve always wanted to have?


Prime time is a huge chunk of time that you can use to read. Reading is much better for your brain than television, because it’s ‘usually’ not full of commercial advertisements, and doesn’t flip between images every 7 seconds or more. With reading, you really have a much better chance of monitoring your brain’s input.

You can read novels for fun, self-improvement books, or books that will help you make money directly or through your field of work. It’s also a pretty nice way to unwind and relax after a long day of work while expanding your vocabulary.

All this sitting around is highly productive, but once that’s over with, it’s time to get your butt up and…

  • Burn Baby, Burn! (Like disco inferno?)Okay, well, what I’m talking about is exercise. You’ve been watching TV for so long, and gawking/envying all the hard body actors and actresses, that you’re practically an expert of what sexy is, and know just how sexy you’d like to be yourself.

I don’t want to tell you that you’ll be happier if you get your body into stellar shape. It might, or it might not, that is really not of any consequence. What I can tell you is that you’ll have an overall feeling of well being if you do daily exercise, which will strengthen your muscles, give you more energy, and invigorate and focus your mind. Some of the ways in which you can do this are…

    • Take up running. This is something that I just got into myself. If you’re not in the best shape of your life, you can start out by walking, then walking faster, then jogging, until finally you’re able to run. The key is constant and never ending improvement. 
  • Pick Up Games. You can find a fun pick up game at your local park, gym, or social club. The key here is that the people and the fun will keep you coming back, and the sport will get your sweaty and feeling good. 
  • Exploration/Shopping. You want to be active, and you need to do this no matter what. A fun way to do this is to walk around (or bike, or run), and explore a new area. Explore a new city, park, or even a shopping center if that’s what you’re into. Go at a fast pace that is comfortable, but challenging, so that your heart rate is increased and you’re actually doing some work! 
  • Bondage, bond… I mean family time. Someone somewhere gave family time a bad name. It doesn’t have to be arguing, fighting, and hating on each other as often portrayed on TV. The difference between TV and real life is that on TV someone else makes the plot; in life our actions and decisions dictate how the movie will play out.Generally speaking, your family members are the group of people whom you can most trust and rely upon. On the other hand, these people can be the most critical of you as well, which could make them a less than ideal group to come to when you have problems.This creates a fun game you can play during prime time every day. Build the amazing relationship that you’ve always wanted with your family, while they’re still around for you to enjoy them. You can do this in so many ways, that the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.I’m talking about cleaning together, planning together, reading together, exercising together, and yes, even having family time together as a family. I know it’s a stretch. You can make money together, pray together, accompany each other to social events, aid each other in fortifying your morality, ethics, and character.When you start thinking of your family as home base and strengthening this social foundation of your life, you’ll notice a lot of magical things happening. You’ll feel better in general, as well as get a lot of support in areas of your life. Next, you’ll notice that your relationships with other people are getting exceedingly better as well.


This list represents just a few things from an infinite list of activities that are better and more productive than watching TV. I’m sure you can think of even better ways to spend your TV free time.

Alex Shalman

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