How and why I ditched my TV addiction

 Photography by  Suzy Van Dyke

Photography by Suzy Van Dyke

Have you ever said, "I want to work out," "I want to read more," or "I want to start a hobby" but you felt like you were too busy? I have. So many, many times. I felt overwhelmed by my life and I felt like I had NO extra time. Part of the reason for that feeling was because I was running my own small business, which did take up quite a bit time. But the real reason behind it was because I was filling my free moments with something: TV. Netflix and Hulu to be exact.

I love TV. As in, TV shows. Like LOVE them. Particularly police/action dramas like Dick Wolf's Chicago series, medicals dramas such as Grey's Anatomy, science fiction like Fringe, and end of the world scenarios like The Last Ship, 12 Monkeys and The Walking Dead. I LOVE binge watching and would watch episode after episode in any free time that I got. Once I started, it was so hard for me to stop. I would usually sit down to breakfast with a show and the thought, "I'm just going to watch while I'm eating and then I'm going to put it away." That rarely ever happened and before I knew it, two or three hours had been wasted.

Some could argue that the worldly influence of these shows could have a negative effect. And for some people, this is totally, 100% true. But for me, this habit, a 10 year old habit formed sometime during or right after college, was wasting my life. Was I accomplishing goals? Some. Was I living a full life? Sure. But imagine all the goals and life I could have lived if I hadn't wasted those countless hours watching shows that don't even matter. Shows were my go-to. If I didn't know what to do with myself? Watch a show. If I was bored? Watch a show. If I was procrastinating on something that needed to be done? Watch a show. If I was overwhelmed? Watch a show. 

This went on until the end of March, 2018. We were moving up to Northern California and I was taking care of a three month old baby, running my music school, and trying to pack up our one bedroom apartment. I realized that TV had no place, literally NO PLACE, in my life at that time. I canceled our Netflix subscription and logged out of Hulu. I told my husband not to tell me the password and I focused on packing. Once we landed at our new house, I needed to unpack everything so I didn't let myself watch any TV. I knew if I did, nothing would be unpacked for MONTHS, and I didn't want to start my new life up north like that. And I started to realize that I didn't miss my shows like I thought I would. There have been a couple tempting moments, but overall, I don't feel like I'm missing a thing. I think it's because I'm actually living my life, rather than watching pretend characters live their pretend lives.

Since that day in late March, I haven't watched a single episode of anything by myself. My husband and I enjoy watching a show in the evenings, (currently watching through The Office), so I've allowed myself that. But I'm finding that I still want to binge watch and it's disrupting my nighttime routine, so I need to limit myself to one or two episodes max. 

Since I've stopped filling my extra time with TV and by the grace of God, I've moved to a new house, completely unpacked, started the process of KonMari, and shut down my music school. I've started and am maintaining three side hustles, a new music studio business, and am managing two Instagram accounts. On a daily basis, I take care of my mobile 7 month old, 4 cats, 22 chickens, and keep my house cleaner than it's ever been. I've changed the way I eat to be much cleaner, found time to exercise more than I have in the past 15 months combined, and lost over ten pounds in the past month. My creativity is far beyond anything it's ever been in the past 10 years and I wish I had even more time and energy to create everything in my head!

If you find this at all relatable, here are my tips for kicking your TV habit to the curb!

1) Cut it off.

Log out of all your streaming accounts, or better yet, cancel them, if you can! If you watch tv on a big screen, remove it from your bedroom room and/or living room. This is the hardest part but if you can do it, you're well on your way to victory.

2) Replace it.

Find something else to replace your tv habit with. Perhaps you already have a list of things you'd like to accomplish, but if not, find a hobby or pick up a book. Always have something to go to when you feel the urge to turn on a show. Write out a list, even a list of cleaning jobs around the house! Often, we just need something productive to focus our energy on when we feel a lull in our day, and the desire to veg in front of a TV show magically disappears.

3) Find someone to hold you accountable.

Find a friend or family member who can help you fight the urge to watch a show! Tell them if you're feeling tempted and let them encourage you towards better use of your time! Our time is so limited and once you cut TV out of your life, you will be surprised how many things there are to fill your time.

 

I still don't have enough time throughout my day, so I'm starting to focus on my social media use. Once I have my bad habit of mindlessly scrolling and Instagram-story-watching broken, I'll write a new post with my tips and tricks!

~xo, Maegan