When I was a kid, my mom and I only had 3 television channels: 2, 5 and 13. Channel 2 was, and always will be, CBC. Channel 5 aired the news and other evening programming I wasn’t allowed to watch. And Channel 13 was where I could find cartoons, before and after school. We moved around a lot, when it was just the two of us, but somehow those channels never seemed to change. I can still remember the feeling of the dial clicking, when I turned it in a circle from 2 to 5, 5 to 13, and 13 all the way back down to 2. Two whole clicks.
This wasn’t that long ago – I’m talking 1989-1991, somewhere in there. And even though we only had 3 channels, I can’t ever remember complaining about there being nothing good to watch. (Mom, feel free to correct that, lol.) Fast forward to today, however, and most basic cable packages come with at least 30 channels, which still leaves the average consumer dissatisfied. You get this channel, but not that one, and that’s the one you really want. So you pay a little (ok, a lot) extra and the world of television becomes your oyster. Suddenly, you have 300, 400, 500 channels… but guess what? Even with all those options, there’s usually nothing good to watch.
I cancelled my cable package about 2.5 years ago now, and have never really missed it. Thanks to the power of social media and this wonderful thing we call the internet, I get my news from Twitter, Feedly and other websites. I do watch a few shows I like on individual television network’s websites, and I stream other shows, movies and documentaries through Netflix. So, I still consume this particular medium, just not through an expensive cable box – and it’s helped me cut down on some serious binge-watching time.
Or at least that’s what I thought.
When I reviewed my goals and recapped my list of accomplishments in 2014, I was happy with my progress. Unfortunately, there was still a little voice in the back of my head telling me all the other things I wanted to work on, which I made excuse after excuse not to. “I travel too much,” “there’s no time,” and “I’m too busy” were just a few of them. (Isn’t that last one the worst? I’ve only very recently realized that my life is not, in fact, very busy at all.) You know what I wasn’t too busy to do last year? Watch all 9 seasons of One Tree Hill, 6 seasons of Gossip Girl and the first 2 seasons of Gilmore Girls.
That’s 264 hours or 11 full days or 3% of my entire year. And they were all garbage, intended to be background noise. What the frick was I thinking?
The worst part is that it doesn’t stop there. I watched probably 6-7 hours/week of television this fall – not including whichever of the shows listed above I was binge-watching on Netflix on the side. My number is low compared to the 30 hours/week most Canadians are watching, but it’s still not something I’m happy about. Sure, it starts innocently: you sit down to watch one episode of a show, then 1 turns into 2 and 2 turns into 4. Before you know it, it’s 10pm and you’ve done nothing with your night. I can’t afford any more of those nights – not if I want to tackle more this year.
So, surprise surprise, I’m giving myself another challenge. On top of the yearlong shopping ban (which will be at the halfway mark on Wednesday!), I’m imposing a 31-day television ban on myself.
The rules are simple. I am not allowed to watch:
- Television shows
I am allowed to watch:
- Meditation videos
- Yoga videos
- 1 TED Talk/day
I’m also trying to avoid YouTube, for the most part, since it’s easy to be influenced by what you watch, or get into a flow and somehow watch 6 videos when you only meant to watch one.
I started the challenge on January 1st and have already felt a few pangs of annoyance. What they signal to me, however, is that watching television was a habit I’d built into my daily life. (And you know how I love discovering these triggers and changing my habits!) On Day 1, I felt the pang to watch television twice: when I sat down to eat lunch and dinner. On Day 2, it was the same; this is when I decided to replace my regular dinnertime show with 1 TED Talk (short, sweet and inspirational). On Day 3, I was too busy to notice. And yesterday, on Day 4, I was too busy during the day to notice, but did watch 1 TED Talk at dinner time.
So far, so good. Actually, so far, so great.
Do you want to know what else I’ve done in the past 4 days? Read an entire book from start-to-finish, and started another. Wrote 2.5 chapters of my own book. Had a meeting with a friend who is going to help me bring some of my ideas for this blog to life. Had awesome mentoring sessions with a couple of the women I’m working with. Talked on the phone and caught up with a few friends. Went to my first floatation therapy appointment. Went out for breakfast. Went for a walk. Saw my dad. Journaled every day. And the list goes on. So yes, I have been “busy” the last 4 days… but doing great stuff!
Wish me luck for the next 27, though! I think I’m going to need it…
How much television do you think you watch per week?