According to some studies, the average American watches almost five hours of TV per day. That is equivalent to 35 hours per week and almost two months per year. Although some people use TV to relax, it can easily become a time suck and an addiction. In order to quit watching TV, you should slowly decrease the amount of TV you watch over time, cut your TV watching completely, or replace the time you spend watching TV with other activities.
Decreasing TV over Time
Record how much time you spend watching TV.
Bringing attention to your habit, without pressuring yourself to get rid of it, can help you realize how much time you actually waste watching TV. In fact, the very act of recording how much time you spend watching TV (and what you watch) will likely reduce your habit.
- As you write down, “12:30am – Watching a rerun of Friends that I’ve seen twice already,” you might realize how much of a waste of time it is, and shut off the television.
Reduce the number of hours you watch TV gradually.
Begin by not watching TV for one day each week. Alternatively, you could try decreasing the number of hours that you watch TV each day. Doing it gradually may make it easier for you to transition to a life without TV.
- For example, slowly reduce the amount of time you watch TV from six days a week to five days a week (or three hours each night to two hours each night).
- Continue this process until you no longer watch TV.
Limit yourself to certain shows.
This will prevent you from turning on the television and surfing through the channels or Netflix looking for something to watch. This can actually waste a lot of time.
- Instead, continue watching a few shows that you have already started. For example, if you have already watched six seasons of Game of Thrones, you could continue watching that show until it finishes.
- Try limiting where and when you watch your chosen shows by only having their streaming platforms on certain devices. This way, you won’t be tempted to watch it while you’re studying on your computer or playing on your phone.
Don’t start watching new shows.
You should also avoid starting any new television shows when you are trying to quit. You don’t want to get hooked on a new series. This could make it harder to reduce your TV watching.
Use a timer to limit your time spent in front of the TV.
Many TVs come with a timer feature. When you start watching TV, set the timer so that the TV turns off after an hour. This prevents you from lingering on the TV, and forces you to turn the TV on if you want to keep watching.
- Alternatively, you can get a simple egg timer from the store. Place the timer in another room so that you have to get up in order to turn it off. This will help pull you away from the TV.
Stop watching TV completely.
As you slowly reduce your TV time and phase out the shows that you watch, you will be able to quit watching TV completely. You will likely replace TV with other more rewarding activities and may find that you no longer miss TV. Alternatively, you may reduce your TV time enough that you no longer feel it is taking over your life.
Quitting TV Cold Turkey
Cancel your TV subscriptions.
In order to cut TV cold turkey, you need to make it very difficult to access televisions shows. If you subscribe to a TV cable package, satellite service, Netflix, Hulu, or other streaming service, then you should cancel your subscription immediately. This way you will no longer be able to access your favourite shows.
Remove the TV(s) from your home.
Even after you have cancelled your TV subscriptions, you may be able to watch a few basic channels. As a result, you should remove the TV(s) from your home. This way it will not be possible to watch TV during the evenings or as you are laying in bed.
- If you live with other people who are still watching TV, you can reduce the number of TVs in your home to one television in the family room.
- You could also try hiding your TV in a cabinet or rearrange your furniture so that the TV is no longer the focal point of the room. This will make it less tempting to watch TV.
Socialize with other people who don’t watch TV.
It will be easier to quit TV cold turkey if you have support from other people. For example, you may want to reduce your TV time together as a family. Instead, of spending hours each night watching TV, try playing a board game.
- Alternatively, you may be able to find a friend who will quit TV with you.
Avoid social media accounts, blogs, and websites devoted to TV shows.
You may want to unfollow certain social media accounts and blogs that re-cap or highlight television shows. Similarly, don’t read TV reviews. These types of articles could re-spark your desire to watch TV and will make it more difficult for you to quit cold turkey.
Replacing TV with Other Activities
Create new goals.
Create a list of goals that you have always wanted to complete. For example, maybe you have always wanted to start a blog, run a marathon, or start your own business. As you work towards meeting these goals, your TV time will naturally decrease.
- People often become addicted to TV as a way to escape their problems. By setting new goals, you will begin to feel more productive and happier.
Find other hobbies.
You can also quit watching TV by taking up a new hobby. For example, you could try reading, writing, drawing, or painting. Alternatively, you could start playing a sport, learn a new language or instrument, or socialize with your friends. Create a list of hobbies you have always wanted to try and begin spending your time on these.
Continue filling your time until you no longer miss TV.
Once you have started working towards new goals and hobbies, you will find that you no longer miss watching TV. You may find that you have found new passions and TV may even begin to seem like a waste of time and money. Once you start feeling this way, you have successfully quit TV.
- Don’t leave the TV on all the time in the background.
- If you prefer a bit of background noise while you work, try the radio, music, or a tabletop fountain instead.
- Throw out your remote control. You are less likely to spend hours in front of the TV if you constantly have to get up to adjust the volume or change the channel.
- Some people may not understand your decision, especially if you live in a culture where hours of TV-watching is the norm. Stand up for your choice and invite others to join you. This will also strengthen your resolve if you are just starting a TV-free life.
- Remember to respect the wishes of your TV-watching family members and/or housemates.