Consider Limited Screen Time

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day 2


A ridiculous amount of books.  It’s not even worth counting because it’s that ridiculous. Books I’ve purchased from book stores, and online, and book sales at the library.  Books I’ve received as gifts for Christmas and my birthday and even “just because.”  Books I’ve started, put down, and picked up again, and books that have set on the shelf since day one.  A ridiculous amount of books remain unread in my apartment.


A trio of magazine piles I may have flipped through once.  I’ve kept them because I’m interested, and I’ll get to them eventually.

Projects I’ve started and never gotten around to finishing fill my craft room.  Art work and knitting and boxes of paper and fabric. 


Old friends with whom I’ve failed to correspond with, new friends I haven’t made plans to see again, and places nearby I’ve still yet to visit, though they’ve been on my list since I moved to NY in 2008. 

jennacole crazy dance

Oh, and a book proposal, screen play, and 47 blog posts that each remain half written, not moving in any direction. 

All because I don’t have the time. I haven’t had time because I’ve been busy.

american pickers

Busy with American Pickers, and Pawn Stars, and the Real Housewives of New York errr… DC…ummm…Beverly Hills….America.  Hours upon hours of Criminal Minds episodes I’ve already seen a handful of times, plus back to back hours of SVU, CSI, and other crime shows which might give me nightmares as I go to sleep in an empty apartment each night.

Food Network and TLC and E! TV.  There are nights I refuse to go to bed because sleeping in the living room, in front of the television is so much more fun. 

I love TV, to an unhealthy level.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying television is the worst thing in the world, or that no good comes from viewing it.  I’m not saying I’ve wasted the last year of my life away by spending more time than ever before in front of the small screen.  But what  I am saying is that perhaps i need to start moderating the amount of time I spend with the TV on, even when I just have it on as “background noise” while I do something else.  [Because, honestly, if it’s just “background noise” I probably won’t miss it.]


I know better than to try and cut out television all together.  Instead, I set up a plan for 2011.

  • First I made a list of the shows I really want to continue watching.  I considered television programs I’ve enjoyed watching for some time, and others which I watch with friends and consider more of a social aspect. 
  • I added up the time spent watching these programs, and ended up with 5 1/2 hours a week.
  • I decided to give myself some “flex time” each week, for television specials, movies, or other televised events I may want to watch, rounding up my goal time to 7 hours of television per week.*
  • I made a list in my journal of the reasons WHY I am cutting back on my television viewing.  For example, beyond creating more free time for friends, reading, and other activities, I know that this change is going to improve my sleep quality. 
  • I made a promise to myself.  I will not replace my television watching with pointless internet procrastination, video game playing, or any one singular activity.  The idea is for me to try new things, and keep my weeks well rounded.  I will watch less TV in 2011.

*Note: I’m a tad bit concerned about March Madness, but I feel like maybe I should just cross that bridge when I come to it.

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23 thoughts on “Consider Limited Screen Time

  1. Val @ Balancing Val

    Oh Heather, I couldn’t agree with you more!

    I’m forever complaining about how I don’t have time to read or try a new recipe or research something for school . . . Yet I have time to watch Camille & Kyle fight or stay up on a school night to watch Top Chef.

    It has to stop . . . I might as well make that brain power into SOMETHING useful!

    Thanks for the reminder 🙂
    Val @ Balancing Val recently posted..Balancing Money–Entertainment Book

    1. Heather Post author

      I know exactly what you mean, Val. Especially in regards to Kyle and Camille. I COULD NOT pull myself away from the television. It was ridiculous.

      I am so excited about this declaration. It’s not 2011 yet, but I’ve already noticed that since I have decided less TV is in the cards for me, that I’ve been choosing to do other things instead. I’ve read more in the last week than I have in the last several months. The other night I made THREE soups, to fill up my freezer for easy lunches and dinners. I have made plans with friends, talked to my sister on the phone, I have gone on LONG walks with a good podcast in my ear. It has been lovely!

      I hope this reminder really does leave an impression on you and that you are feeling as refreshed in your lifestyle as I am by turning OFF the TV more often.

    1. Heather Post author

      true story: when i first started thinking about my not watching as much TV, I thought “this can not impact my friendship with Evan.” hahaha.

      Do you know when it really hit me that I needed to turn OFF the TV? When I started tweeting you asking what you were watching bc I couldnt find anything “good” on.

      It was a wake up call as such:

      hi, self. it’s me. if nothing GOOD is on, THEN DO SOMETHING ELSE.

  2. Victoria (District Chocoholic)

    One thing that has helped me cut back on TV time is to not have cable. When I lived in NM in 2004, I had to have it because I was 100 miles from the nearest, like, NBC station. But since moving to a city, I’ve gone off antenna. Somehow, TV is less appealing when it’s only network TV, and when reception isn’t that great.

    Bonus: Saved money!
    Victoria (District Chocoholic) recently posted..Vosges Bars- Marzipan

  3. holly

    I love that you posted this today, I am currently considering canceling my satellite service. The few shows that I care about watching can be viewed online, and then I won’t be sucked into the mindless watching

    1. Heather Post author

      and let’s make a list of all the FUN things you can do with the money you’ll have from cancelling the service!

  4. Leslie

    Hey Heather! Love your blog.
    I really like your approach to reducing your TV viewing to essentials. As part of my blog last fall, I went a month without any TV. I too am a total TV addict, and it was a really strange month! I survived it, and am now much better at only turning the TV on when there’s something specific I want to watch, and turning it off after. I try to avoid having it on as background noise, because I always get sucked in. You know how it is: suddenly that “background” show is the most interesting thing you’ve seen in awhile, and now you not only have to finish that episode of Pitbulls and Parolees, but also go find all the back episodes On Demand…
    Leslie recently posted..Healthy Living 102 – Syllabus

    1. Heather Post author

      Thanks, Leslie! I totally understand what you mean about background noise becoming the glue that won’t allow your eyes to be torn away! ha!

  5. Nic Dempsey

    I don’t have a TV, not because I have any moral objection to them or because I hate TV, just ’cause when I moved I had a choice between paying someone to help move boxes or buying a TV and TV license (and I had a lot of boxes!) I still watch TV online and I read about it (nothing worse than not knowing what your friends are talking about!!), I also tend to wait for the DVD boxset if everyone says it’s really good. On the other hand I am addicted to Radio 4 and the World Service (BBC radio).

    Good luck with your resolution! Please let us know how it goes..
    Nic Dempsey recently posted..Cold and Christmas

  6. Andrea @ Run, Eat, Date, Sleep

    I totally relate to this. I made it one of my considerations for the New Year to read more and play less on the internet. I will still continue to watch ungodly amounts of Criminal Minds though. I’m a brand new addict of the show, and I actually squeeled with glee when I saw you say you watch it too. I swear Spencer Reid is my boyfriend. He just doesn’t know it yet.

    Thank you for another inspiring post!
    Andrea @ Run, Eat, Date, Sleep recently posted..My Famous Chicken Ring

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  10. Allison @ Happy Tales

    This is such a great thing to do!! I’ve noticed that I’m not watching nearly as much TV as I used to…. and I am getting a lot more done (granted, I am in school… so a lot of this stuff needs to be done…) It’s nice to get a break from the “screen” every now and then 🙂

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