“What could you accomplish if you stopped watching TV? What would you do with all the extra time?” My wife asked me these questions two weeks ago. After a short discussion, we decided to find out for ourselves. We completely eliminated television from our lives last week. It turned out to be an incredibly rewarding experience. We now have a plan to drastically reduce our future viewing habits.
Here are 40 positive effects from our week without television.
- Wrote 4 blog posts. – I usually only have time to write 2 articles a week.
- Made it to the gym 5 times. – I went Monday through Friday for about 45 minutes, hitting every major muscle group.
- Increased household communication. – TV kills the flow of household communication. We both noticed that we had a lot more time to talk.
- Read a novel cover to cover. – I read the short novel “Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse. It’s a powerful story about the importance of life experiences as they relate to approaching an understanding of reality and attaining enlightenment. I highly recommend it.
- Caught up on current events twice as fast. – I typically waste a good hour everyday watching CNN. This week I grabbed my news off the web. It took me significantly less time to scan CNN.com.
- Enhanced focus on everything. – TV is a huge distraction, even when you hear it from the other room. It’s so much easier to concentrate when you don’t have a TV yapping at you. I had no idea how much if affected my ability to concentrate until it was gone.
- Learned a few new skills. – I took my own advice and learned how to change the oil in my truck… pretty darn easy.
- Spent more time with friends and family. – We invited Angel’s sister and some friends over for a mid-week dinner party.
- Cleaned the house. – Something Angel and I habitually evade by watching TV instead.
- Learned new recipes and prepared 5 home cooked meals. – We cooked large portions so we could have leftovers for lunch every day.
- Spent more time enjoying simple pleasures. – Deep conversations, long walks, telling jokes, etc.
- Finally trimmed the hedges in our front yard. – I always put this off because I am tired after mowing the lawn. This time, however, I did it on a totally separate evening. It only took me 30 minutes.
- Cleaned out the garage and sold 2 old dehumidifiers on eBay. – We setup a 5-day eBay auction and got $65 for each one of them!
- Took 2 evening strolls around a local park. – We hadn’t been to this park in years… there’s only 1 reason why.
- Saved money on our electric bill. – Our power company’s website allows you to check your daily usage. Sure enough, less TV equals less electricity usage.
- Burned more calories. – We were off the couch moving around.
- Backed-up critical files on both of our laptops. – Transferred them all over to our Iomega 500 GB external drive.
- I played my guitar. – …for the first time in a year. I’m hooked again!
- Found 2 new bands I like. – I used online music comparison services to find 2 awesome bands with similar music styles to my favorite band, Counting Crows.
- Listened to more music. – In addition to finding new bands, I had more time to listen to my favorite music.
- We stargazed in our backyard. – …for the first time since Angel and I first started dating. It was blissful.
- Caught up on times with an old friend. – I hadn’t spoken to my buddy Jon since my wedding a year and a half ago. We had a pleasant 30 minute conversation on the phone.
- Handled basic household maintenance. – Replaced the AC filter, applied pest control spray, replaced fire alarm batteries, etc.
- Took Angel out on a romantic date. – I took her to one of our favorite Italian restaurants and then out to a local pub where we slow danced to a live music.
- Finished up a little DIY project. – I’ve been stalling on staining, sanding and hanging a certain wooden shelf for nearly 6 months.
- Updated the photo frames throughout the house. – Sometimes it’s nice to mix things up. We spent some time sorting through our digital photos and replaced a few photos in various photo frames throughout the house.
- Played racquetball. – Great 2-person sport!
- Organized my monthly planner. – Entered all my known commitments into my planner and did a little time planning each night.
- Reviewed our long-term goals. – Angel and I had an open discussion last Tuesday night about our goals for the next 3 – 5 years.
- Setup recurring automatic payments for most of our bills. – Now our electricity, phone, insurance and cable bills are automatically withdrawn from our account each month. This basically buys me 30 additional minutes of free time every month.
- Updated my resume. – It only took me 45 minutes.
- Quiet relaxation. – Instead of clicking on the TV, I spent some quiet time gathering my thoughts each day when I returned home from work.
- Intelligent conversations at suppertime. – Quite frequently we eat supper in front of the TV. Since there was no TV watching this week, Angel and I had some really interesting conversations instead.
- Hit it off with our new neighbors. – We spent more time outside and ended up running into our new neighbors. They seem like pretty cool people. There’s certainly the potential for friendship here.
- Exchanged back massages. – It sure beats canned laughter.
- There was more time for “quality time”. – You know… just me and her and some classical music in the background.
- More real life experiences. – Because we were off of the couch, actually doing something.
- Watched 1 quality movie. – Instead of watching whatever was on, we went to Blockbuster and selected 1 quality movie to rent.
- Ironed my clothes each weeknight before bedtime. – …since I had more free time in the evenings. It made my mornings less stressful.
- We got more done. – Because we had so much more time to do it all.
I strongly recommend a week without television to everyone. You’ll be amazed…
Photo by: Zyphichore
Woah .. how much TV did you watch!? But in all seriousness, I completely agree, not having a TV around is great, despite it not being by choice in my case (living in student housing at the moment). It’s great to see someone highlight the reasons to NOT WATCH TV!
no one important says
That doesn’t really make any sense. You can only do perfectly normal, everyday things if you don’t watch T.V.? You don’t need to “give up” T.V., just watch in moderation.
Juan M. says
I’ve been avoiding TV for the last 7 years or so and it was the best decission i took in my entire life 🙂
I dumped my tv about 3 years ago, mainly because of the low quality of UK tv, and also the ridiculous licence charges (£139.50/$280 per year).
I was amazed at how i never actually missed it. I do have a large projector screen, so just use that for watching movies.
One thing i noticed, when at friends houses is; if 4 or 5 ppl are sitting in a room talking, and someone turns on the tv, all of a sudden the conversation dies as everyone watches the ‘little magic box’ in the corner. While i do agree, some t.v can be educational, most of it is drivel, UK soap operas being a case in point, and also the mindnumbing BigBrother TV series
After reading this article, I’ve decided to try it. I’m so annoyed with TV. Advertising on Canadian television is so intolerably obnoxious. The jingles make me want to rip out what little hair I have left. I now mute the set during commercials.
Not sure if I want to give up the ball games though.
Awesome! I lived without a television for about a year and a half when I was in my mid-twenties. It was great. I still had a laptop, so I was able to keep up with news and blogs and music and everything. Like you said, I found myself with a lot more time to do productive things that actually make me feel good like calling friends or writing or organizing stuff. I’m trying to convince my husband to turn off the tv more often.
I actually don`t watch TV these days. My husband and kids do, but I`m too busy with other stuff. I was also raised without a television, so I think that helps.
I have really been working on limiting my television viewing (even though I don’t watch that much). I always find that I am more fulfilled from not watching.
Now I’ve got to work on getting my kids to watch less. We just came back from a vacation, and one of the wonderful things was that we were at a remote location for several days – without tv, cell phones, computers, electronics of any sort – and it was refreshing to just spend time together. Laughing. Playing. Getting to know each other better.
The Mommy says
I know I’m not in the norm, but we don’t watch TV at all in our house. I love it. When I visit friends who have TV blaring in the background during a conversation, and they’re kids are glued to the screen, I remember why I don’t have TV. I absolutely HATE HATE HATE commercials! I do a lot of home cooking on an almost daily basis, post daily on my blog and craft so much that my kitchen table has paint stains, chip marks and little round circles from the hammer and tiny paper rivets I’m always using. It’s perfect, except when I spend hours at my computer surfing and not actually “doing” anything. The computer has become my TV.
Dr Wright says
You could have done all that and still watched
The Wright Place TV Show!
(sorry, it was too easy, I couldnt resist)
"Mother" Mann says
My wife and I have cut out most television recently and have found our house runs more smoothly.
My favorite effect of is that we spend Sunday evenings planning our meals for the week to come. We start with something simple: Monday – Beef. Tuesday – Chicken and then I dig through our cookbooks and decide on a new recipe for the main ingredient. I have recently made 30 minute mini-meatloaves, chicken masala, no bean all beef chili. For dessert I have been doing a tastes of summer ice cream bonanza. The Blueberry Cheesecake is a particular favorite.
It has been amazing the amount of time we have recovered from such a simple change.
No TV for years – over 2 decades anyway. And look at all the $$ I save on cable 🙂 Can only get one fuzzy channel on rabbit ears…sometimes….so why bother. Don’t miss it.
Get the news I am interested in on the internet, with alerts for severe weather problems. Get the weather on the internet once a day also.
What I really enjoy is when the grandkids are over, we talk, read, play games, cards, sew, garden, bake, and have time for quality sharing activities together! They love the personal one on one time we have together.
Nice! Enjoyable! Time for quality pleasures!
Big Counting Crows fan myself. What are the two bands you came across?
Clair Schwan says
New here, but I love this topic and wanted to comment. Instead of a long post, please read what I have to say on my website. This link takes you directly to the page that is pertinent to the discussion.
What once was a source of entertainment has now become an addiction, a friend to many, but a source of problems as well.
My additions to the list of benefits of a TV free life are my favorites:
– I don’t know what to be afraid of.
– I now have opinions of my own.
– I now have few needs instead of many wants.
I haven’t watched TV for 10 years, and most people who are spellbound by TV often ask where my TV is when they walk into the house. You won’t find one anywhere on the main level. I have one in the basement, and it only serves as a place for movies.
There is so much life to live. We should be doing it instead of watching others in a world of make-believe. It is all a choice, but sometimes some of us need to be reminded that we do have a choice.
It is a shame that the people in America that are the highest paid, most popular, most often in the lime light, and most influential are those that do the same thing for a living – they pretend.
Surround yourself with real people that you care for and care for you, and your quality of life will take a giant leap ahead because of the added value. No amount of television can do that.
Good fortune to all.
I went through a “no-TV” phase for several years, but after I discovered several new shows I liked (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the X-Files, ER, and Friends) I went to the other extreme. TV isn’t all bad. There are quality shows on but most of them are on network television and PBS. I have never bothered to have cable.
Wow, this is something that I never really considered doing. I don’t know if i can go a whole week, but I will try it out in smaller increments.
Congrats on your t.v. free week! My wife and I have not had a t.v. since we got married last July (2007) and we have found it to be very rewarding. We get all of the news and information that we need from the internet, including streamed video from the Olympics. I can’t even begin to imagine the time we have saved over the last year by not watching t.v. because you always tell yourself that you’ll only watch one show, but you end up watching three. I encourage you both to take the next step and sell your t.v. on ebay, it’ll change your life.
you did all that in one week??
this is something i would like to try; i admit i’m hooked on turning on the TV from about 7 to 10 each night, even if there’s nothing good on. It’s my form of “relaxation,” but the thought of how many other more productive things i could be doing intrigues me. Maybe i’ll give it a shot before the new programming starts up this fall!
I have been watching less and less television lately, for many of the reasons you list above . Also, the content of most of the shows and commercials is disgusting to me. I don’t want my head filled with it.
My husband, on the other hand, loves the TV. We have tried a tv-free period of time, but he really resists it. Nothing I do or say makes him want to give it up! I wouldn’t care otherwise, but since we have a small apartment, when he watches I have no choice but to watch or go be alone in the bedroom. Lame.
Any tips for helping him see the life outside of TV?
OMG! I’m stunned. That result seems to be all the way on one end of the spectrum of possibilities.
How much TV do you watch that you were able to do *all* these other things?! Was there a bit more organization in your lives that week as well?
At any rate, I’m impressed. I don’t have any shows I watch right now, but come fall (or whenever) Dollhouse is on my list. Or on the web, Dr. Horrible. I vote for thoughtful TV choices, not mindless watching. I used to think that TV was great for relaxing, then realized it simply served as suspended animation: I didn’t have to think or perform for that set period of time. It tends to be more numbing than anything else. For myself, going for a run or walk, using my muscles is much more relaxing.
My TV lives in the corner of the living-room, and is covered with a nice embroidered cloth that is very pleasant to look at. That way the cloth is more like an inspirational piece of art work, and it keeps the TV from calling out my name or calling me to it. I look at the art work instead of the TV.
I thought this was an interesting article relating to people who don’t watch tv. It seems like they enjoy more social activies than tv watchers.
I did It. Two hours ago I called and cut off the Dish. I have always wanted to, but convinced myself I could just turn the TV off whenever I want. There is a powerful energy at work and despite always multitasking around it, The Noise!
I discussed it with my husband who watches a lot more than me this morning. He said “whenever you want to cancel is fine with me” like I’m the one with the problem. Later, I told him I was going to call and he sheepishly said “Wait, I’m scared!”
After he left for work I did it. Hopefully he can survive. I know life will improve a lot. I wonder how it will manifest?
Did your dreams improve? Mine did, without the nightly dose of soundbites and ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ news programs. I’ve been without the Tube for 3 years now. Don’t miss it a bit! G.
Good for you. I wish I could get my family to do this. I would much rather be doing something else.
Matthew Cornell says
Hear hear! No cable in our house. No TV during weekdays. Carefully limited viewing on weekends, with time limits. Summary: TV is crap.
Inspiring Post! I’m 23 and have never owned a TV. I grew up with a total viewing time of perhaps 40 hrs of television over a 20 year period. I recommend it for any new parents wondering how they should control their kids viewing habits. Life is much richer without the tube!
From an intellectual, and self-development, point of view TV is not inherently bad. Check out this article I wrote about the issue. It defends TV and discusses net neutrality
In Defense of Television and Net Neutrality
I’m not a big fan of TV, I do not have cable, and I much prefer reading aloud as a family than watching most anything on TV. But what about PBS? I not only love the Bill Moyers Journal and NOW, I think they add something to my life. And what about the Olympics? I grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere, and seeing symphonies, operas, exotic animals, and places far and near on the television was both educational and eye-opening. TV is not all bad! It’s about moderation, just like everything else.
Frank Martin DiMeglio says
Television is far worse for us than we have been led to believe. The below newly published article clearly explains why television is both an extended form of dream vision and an hallucination. It is most concerning and highly original. It does an excellent job of explaining what television is.
Also note that hallucinations involve different (and relatively unique) images. See
We need legislative advocacy regarding television NOW.
There are a lot of suggestions by people here that television is an inherently bad entity which is simply not the case, an inanimate object cannot be good or bad, the way it is used by people is the problem which needs to be addressed instead. Otherwise using the same logic you can legitimise banning all entertainment mediums, especially the internet.
Television may continually produce banal and trite programming aimed at a barely literate and passive demographic but other products of a similar effect are in wide circulation, gossip magasines, tabliod newspapers, radio, internet content… etc. However television, as with other mediums, equally enables you to see live news coverage, live sports coverage, liscenced comedy and film and intelligent debate rather than the petty squabbling found on the internet.
If someone turned to me and said “I waste too much time reading newspapers and writing pointless blog entries every day” The answer would be to maybe to skip irrelevant articles in the paper and only make blogs with some kind of point to them. The answer isn’t to just stop reading newspapers and stop blogging, it’s just to be more productive when addressing both.
If you use television in the same way as you use any other resource then it can be highly beneficial; I frequently am able to watch good films for free without either having to stream or download a poor quality version online or pay to rent a movie. It’s also handy to have the news on in the background while i’m catching up with my emails.
I also despise shows like Big Brother and the assortment of mind numbing content usually pumped out, but to use an analogy, i’m not going to throw away the whole box of chocolates just because there are only 2 good ones. I might give some of the others to freinds, or have some of the more bitter ones after a night of heavy drinking when they seem more appealing.
To write off a medium completely simply because you routinely misuse it not only reflects badly on your ability to organise yourself but also a certain immaturity when in dealing with problems.
This Tv-free week sounds awesome, and since you guys got time to do all of that stuff, I can imagine how much time Tv steals from me..
I’m gonna try this Tv-free week next monday, and I can’t wait to see how much I get to finish!
I am reading through this and various other articles like this because I am planning to shut off my tv and internet connection from may 1 2009 to october 1 2009 for the first time ever. I’m a 36 yr old mom with a hubby and 2 kids ages 12 and 11. We live in atlantic Canada. We are all addicted to tv, internet, pc, console and handheld games. It’s affecting our health and happiness as a family. We have slunk into a technology induced haze of drugery and overeating, laziness and fatigue. My house is never clean and we never go anywheres or do anything. I cannot live like this any longer. For the first time in my life I am going to seize control of a bad situation and do something about it. The only thing I am thinking of allowing is downloading the camera onto the pc and the handheld games during long car rides. I am going to start a journal and write down our experiences during this time and I would like to publish them to a blog or something when I reconnect everything next october when the weather starts to turn again and we are forced back indoors. I feel excited about my plan 🙂
Growing up, my family hardly ever watched tv. Now that I’m 21, I really don’t care for it at all… the only thing that brought cable into my home was my ex boyfriend, and i’ve been without it again almost a year… I really don’t miss it at all. At the end of along day, I’ll sometimes put a good movie on, but not having cable makes the days seem so much more high quality. Thanks to whoever wrote this post 🙂
Speaking about TV…
According to Entertainment Industry Market Statistics (2007), the average American spent 1,962 hours ( 81 day) watching TV in 2007.
I grew up with various influences that shaped my behaviors. School, peers, teachers, parents, and society along with media left the crucial imprint on me. In the end, I seem to be the final product of all those influences combined together. This process is ongoing; it continuously keeps shaping me. I already knew how to live “that” life; therefore, I decided to make some changes. I started with TV.
In 2001, I recycled my TV. Yes, folks. I have not being watching TV for 7 years. Occasionally, I do go to movie theater. I had a “TV withdrawal” for about 2 month. I could not discuss any TV shows with my co-workers since I stopped watching them. Most of the conversations were based on TV programs. I had to learn to talk about different subjects. That gradually changed my social circle as well.
T.V. is encroaching on our personal lives and making us slaves to marketing and needless products. Human relationships are being disrupted. The more time we spend before the idiot box the more frustrating life becomes.
A thought provoking article. You deserve my heart felt appreciation.
Frank Martin DiMeglio says
TV is an unnatural extension of dream vision AS waking vision, and it is an hallucination. TV causes emotional detachment, disintegration, contraction, and loss. Autism involves a disintegration and contraction of being and experience (including consciousness). This is what TV does and is. I have proven (in detail and with specifics) that television is an extended form of the dream (in sight and sound). Television is an unnatural creation of generalized thought. See: Television is an Hallucination
I have been on the radio three times recently talking about this.
The overeating during TV is because of this experience of the dream while waking. Bodily feeling/sensation is reduced during TV (as is the case of the dream), so the feeling of fullness is reduced/lacking. Dr. Joyce Starr agrees with this as well.
Frank Martin DiMeglio (author)
My recently published article (above) is also listed first at the website called Arguments Against TV.
Legislative advocacy is needed NOW.
The article does an excellent job of explaining what TV is.
Google hallucinations, and see what they are associated with. Autism is known to involve sensory processing disorders.
I have taken the argument against TV to an entirely new level.
I really dislike these arguments against television on the basis that it is somehow a dumbed-down form of entertainment, causes anti-social effects, is generally a bad influence and so on. It’s been turned into a medium synonymous with lazy mindlessness.
This has nothing to do with television at all and everything to do with the content. The medium of television is not in any way negative. Far from it, it is one of the greatest technical achievements of the 20th century. Television cameras have proven a very robust instrument and have been lowered to the bottom of the sea or sent into orbit to give humans views of things they would not be able to see with their own eyes.
As for television as a media delivery system to the home, I personally can remember in my early childhood seeing the Berlin wall fall and viewing it with as much surprise as the anchor person, because it was a live broadcast. Few of us could forget the impact of 9/11 and while it was a horrible event I’m glad that I bared witness to that terrible day in history.
Television has shown us men walking on the moon and allowed people to see the speeches of their president instead of just reading transcripts in the newspaper. Television has brought home the horrors of war from the front line and given us all a chance to sit in on historic events from our living rooms.
Without television films of all kinds would not be accessible, as you would need to own a projector and actually get the film reals to view them. Thus without television, the cultural heritage of humanity that has been captured on film – everything from the Hindenburg exploding to the Zapruder film to Citizen Kane and Gone with the Wind would be left alone in the film vaults with no way of delivering them to the public except theaters.
Don’t say “it could be seen on the internet” because multimedia and indeed the very way we interact with computers via video displays are a direct descendant of television. The cathode ray tube, the videtron and later the CCD formed the basis for raster graphic generation that lead to the digital camera, digital video and eventually to multimedia in general.
Even our communication systems, from satellite transmission to microwave relay have largely been due to the bandwidth requirements of television and the development of television modulation methods.
Without television there could be no information age as we know it and interaction with computers would be limited to teleprinters.
Ha, ha 🙂
I haven’t been watching TV for almost 5 years now..
Too bad i have a job taking so much time away, so I don’t get to do all those stuff you’ve listed.
Go one week without technology, I guarantee your list will have more positive effects but I can’t really say that TV doesn’t have positive effects. I know people say how mindless some shows are but some are great. It mirrors life, no matter how people perceive television, it comes from the experiences of real people, made up by writers, but none the less. I watch TV regularly and it serves as my past time, it energizes me when I need to be inspired, it relaxes me when I am stressed.
Wow, excellent post…It is so easy to just turn on the television.
I am slowly weening the addiction for mindless TV at night after the stress of running our company.
I am down to 1 hour per night. I am addicted to Two and a Half men.
Wow. Good for you. I cannot be without the tv. It’s on from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep. Even if I’m not watching it, cause I’m on the computer, I’m still listening to it =)