I’m reading a book right now, called The Compound Effect and it has introduced me to a life changing perspective about how I spend my time. The book suggests that “the bottom 80 percent of [unproductive] people are preoccupied with spending their time on entertainment, but the top 20 percent are focused on education”. Entertainment can essentially be defined as screen time – watching movies, sports, sitcoms, surfing the internet, or scrolling through social media. Education may involve some screen time, but ultimately helps you to develop new skills and helps you to improve as a person.
This got me thinking, what is my entertainment vs. education ratio? How much time do I spend on entertainment? When I think about relaxing after a long day, I almost always turn to watching tv. I’ve also found that once I turn on the tv, it’s almost as if I’m hypnotized. Watching one episode, turns into watching, two, and then into three, and then into staying in all night. Before I know it, I’ve consumed 3-4 hours of television right before bed. According to The Compound Effect, “It’s estimated that Americans 12 and over, spend 1,704 hours watching tv per year. That averages out to 4.7 hours per day.” This means “We’re spending almost 30 percent of our waking hours watching tv! That’s almost 33 hours per week – MORE THAN ONE WHOLE DAY each week. It’s the equivalent of watching tv for TWO SOLID MONTHS out of every 12 months.” When I hear these statistics and think about all of the time spent, it scares me. Actually, since I’ve read about this, I’ve gone on a TV diet. Haven’t turned on the TV for almost two weeks.
This got me thinking, what can I do with my time instead? You can beat yourself up for watching too much television, but a better way to approach the problem is to think about more rewarding ways your time can be spent. I came up with a few below:
- Building relationships – Do you want to expand your social circle and meet people who have similar interests or to go out with? Do you want to meet that “special someone”? Building relationships requires leaving the house and speaking to people. Wouldn’t you much rather be out building relationships than watching TV?
- Maintaining relationships – Do you wish you were closer to your family or friends? This requires taking the time to show up for them when they need you. This may mean supporting their goals or just giving them a call to see how they’re doing. We should never take any of our relationships for granted. Wouldn’t you much rather be known for being loving, thoughtful, and supportive over more informed about who is taking the lead in Dancing with the Stars?
- Learning something new – Have you ever wanted to learn a new language or another instrument? This takes practice and dedication over time. What if, instead of dedicating two hours to watching the Bachelor in Paradise for a few months, you dedicated time to learning how to play a song on the guitar?
- Working out – Staying fit is something we can always benefit from. It keeps us healthy and energetic. It helps us look good and feel good. But – you guessed it – it’s something that requires are time. We only have so many hours in a day, and saying you don’t have time to work out and then turning on the TV, isn’t just a poor excuse, it’s a bold face lie!
- Creating – Have you ever wanted to start your own blog, write your own book, or put on an event? Is this something you’ve told yourself you’d do after you relax and catch up on the next episode of Black Mirror? (I’ve been there, that show is addicting!) You’re blog or book will never get started if you keep putting it off and prioritizing TV over it.
- Teaching/Mentoring – Have you ever wanted to teach others on a subject you consider yourself to be an expert on? Have you ever wanted to mentor others and help them to avoid the problems you have faced? How many lives could you touch? How many people could you help if you stopped binge watching television?!
- Volunteering – Have you ever wanted to give back to your community in some way shape or form? We all can make a difference in our community. How many times have you claimed not to have time for volunteering? Uh huh – how many hours of television did you watch last week? Don’t believe you honey!
How would you feel if you focused on just one of the activities above instead of watching television or (insert any other time sucking entertainment)? What could you accomplish? Do you agree that the activities above would be more productive and more fulfilling?
I am not saying that you have to eliminate entertainment from your life entirely. I am suggesting that you become aware of and regulate the amount of time you are spending on it.