When you think of productivity or time management, you often imagine that there is a system out there that you can implement right away that will solve everything. Often what really happens is that you end up spending even more time trying to implement and make that system into a habit.
Here's the deal... there is an easier way to take back a lot of time out of your day than you probably realize and it's very simple. But, I am warning you - just because it is simple doesn't mean that it is easy.
So... if you want to take back 21+ hours of your week, here's what you do - turn off the T.V.
Before you throw a shoe at me, give me a chance to explain and I'll even add a personal anecdote from my family of 7.
The average American watches approximately 3 hours of television a day. Holy heck, that's a lot a time! Actually, that's a lot of wasted time. By getting rid of this time suck, not only will you save time, you will also become a far better person - I guarantee it.
But Dean, how can you live without television? Are you a Neanderthal?
When my wife and I got married, our friends and family were aghast that we did not have cable television. Personally, I thought it was a waste of money and we ended up just using Netflix to watch anything.
Fast forward to the last year and a half, my wife and I made the decision to completely get rid of even Netflix and the kids could only watch cartoons via YouTube on the weekends if all chores and school work are completed.
After a few days of enduring the whines and cries of our cartoon addicted children, something wonderful happened. They realized that they had toys, and could run around outside, and had brothers and sisters to play with. It was amazing. Oh, and the best part was our oldest has been kicking butt with her Classical Arithmetic and Latin studies.
But television isn't bad! It’s just how you use it!
It’s true that television in itself is not a bad thing. The problem is that it very easily becomes a dominating force in the family. It superficially satisfies a number needs and desires that we have, but it eventually becomes a master that is very unforgiving.
“The kids are loud and I need to get things done.” – turn on the babysitter, er… television.
“I’m stuck in the house and need adult conversation and information” – turn on the news.
“There is nothing to do, I need something to entertain me.” – watch the latest sitcom.
At first these scenarios may not seem so bad. They are real situations and are very difficult to satisfy without the TV. The problem is that these situations, and others like it, are gifts from God that are designed to build your character and strengthen the souls of your family.
When you immediately turn on the television you rob yourself and your family of the opportunity to love, to be courageous, patient, and kind. Our children, who typically watch more television than adults do, have hours and hours of spiritual growth taken from them every day.
No, I am not saying that you and the kids should be praying an extra 21+ hours a week, which is not reasonable. However, you can turn those situations into great (and sometimes difficult) learning experiences.
“The kids are loud and I need to get things done.” – Get the kids involved with the cleaning. Set a schedule of chores with them and lay down expectations. If they are under 6 years old then that get's a little tough and you should just let them play with their toys. I usually just tell my wife that I will watch the kids when I get home so she can do the things she needs to do
“I’m stuck in the house and need adult conversation and information” - The news isn't adult conversation, for the most part it is gossip. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said:
...we may witness shameless intrusion on the privacy of well-known people under the slogan: "Everyone is entitled to know everything." But this is a false slogan, characteristic of a false era. People also have the right not to know and it's a much more valuable one. The right not to have their divine souls [stuffed with gossip, nonsense, vain talk.] A person who works and leads a meaningful life does not need this excessive burdening flow of information.
“There is nothing to do, I need something to entertain me.” - There is always something to do. If you find that you are bored it's probably because you have your priorities out of whack and your habits are misaligned
Don't be afraid to break the addiction
Even though it's simple, it takes a lot of courage to break the addiction that the television holds on a family. You will be ridiculed by friends and family, your kids will whine, your wife or husband will complain, but the rewards are worth it.
Be honest with yourself though. I was addicted to television (among other things) and so was my family. Yes, we still watch things but usually it's 1 - 2 hours on the weekends, far less than we used to.
Seriously, what could you do with an extra 21 hours a week? Could you write a book with that time? would you be able to learn a new language like Latin? How would your family benefit from more time with each other? If you don't think the extra 21 hours is worth it, that is fine too. But don't cry when you feel like you have no time in the day to do things that would fulfill you. ;)