Do you watch too much TV? Does that rob you of time that would be better spent doing virtually anything else? Oh yes you do, and oh yes it does.
Here’s the fix. Make watching TV mildly uncomfortable.
Wait…What? Why not just stop watching TV altogether?
Because you probably won’t. You’ll try and you’ll fail and within days or weeks you’ll be back on the couch letting your flatscreen suck away three hours of your sweet sweet time every night.
You’ll fail because cutting out TV altogether takes willpower, which is something we have a limited supply of. Our willpower is better spent on things that truly matter like developing healthy lifestyle habits.
The trick is to engineer your home so that you automatically watch less TV without even trying. How? By making it mildly uncomfortably to watch TV. Here’s what to do:
1. Get rid of your traditional TV – that large flat screen in front of the couch.
The most comfortably place in your home should not be the place you watch TV. You will be drawn here like Bill Clinton to McDonald’s.
2. Cancel your traditional cable or satellite subscription and replace it with Hulu or Netflix.
3. Watch TV exclusively on an iPad or laptop.
This can be comfortable, but only for about 40 minutes or so, which is perfect. Watching streaming TV on a small screen that you have to hold or otherwise prop up will allow you to continue watching your favorite shows, but only in moderation. Gone will be days where you sit down right after work and blink only to find you’ve just watched four hours of Law & Order re-runs.
We don’t have to be masters of willpower to improve our lives or develop the winning habits needed to take back our time. We just to engineer our lives and our homes so that good habits are the default. Make watching TV just a little uncomfortable and see the difference.
Countless studies over the past few years have told us what we already know, that multitasking is utter bullshit.
This is really too bad. Multitasking is one of those things that we so wanted to believe in because it’s too good to be true. The idea of being able to do everything by doing everything at once is intoxicating.
However, there are those few moments in life when we discover a true opportunity to multitask. Ussually these are opporutnities to fill dead time. And this is key – there’s a lot more dead time in your life than you realize, which means there’s an opportunity to do a lot of the things we want to do, but think we don’t have time for.
The biggest source of “dead time” for most of us is driving. The typical American spends over an hour a day in his car. Or put differently, over 5% of your waking hours are spent driving around. This is a valueless activity. We only drive because we need to get somewhere else, driving is a necessary evil. It is also a huge opportunity.
Audiobooks, either through Audible.com or your local library can fill in that dead time. You can “read” an hour a day, with absolutely zero extra effort and no additional time. The only thing you might give up is the garbage that passes for music on the radio, or news, which is a complete waste of time anyway. Give me one example of how listening to the news has allowed you to make a better decision in the past 30 days than you would have had you not be so well “informed”. I digress.
Listening to audiobooks allows you to learn about an endless amount of topics. In the two years I’ve been listening to audiobooks, I’ve learned about home finance and economics, neuroscience, ancient Rome, business and had the opportunity to read literary giants like Graham Greene. If you’re not listening to audiobooks in your car, you’re living with dead time on your hands. Start reading an hour a day instead.