Curb your television intake – Increase your productivity

October 24th, 2010 § 10

At first glance to many of you the title and contents of this post may be obvious, to others it will probably seem absurd. But I am writing this post for myself as well, almost as a reminder for myself and for my productivity. Television has been ever-present in the lives of my generation. With affordable cable packages offering hundreds of channels there is almost never a time where there is nothing to watch on tv. But with the ability to sit in front of the television comes a slew of problems that affects many of us in a less than desirable way.

The so-called “television trance” has been talked about for decades but very little has been done to prevent younger generations from becoming dependent on it. Parents and Grandparents often use the television as a form of baby sitter for their young ones, unfortunately this has become an accepted practice and the children who have a television habit by the time they reach pre-school is at alarming levels. What we should all do is set a limit for ourselves and for our children (if you have children, obviously I do not) and maintain that limit in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

All too often I have found myself with the TV as background noise while working only for it to catch my full attention and eventually be sitting in the recliner watching it with my undivided attention minutes later. This has led to a devastating drop in my productivity in the past and I had to make a conscious choice to change it. In the weeks since I have spent a considerable amount of times doing other things I enjoy such as running, writing and reading. While running is not the most intellectual thing you can do, for me it creates an escape of sorts from the real world. You should find something that you like to do which can take your mind off of everything for at least 30-45 minutes a day, I feel like this is healthy and some of my clearest thoughts come to me in the shower after a long jog. Writing and reading obviously help me do other things that enrich the mind and fill the void that television sometimes fills if we let it.

I am not like most people you will ever meet (in fact, I am probably the only person like me you will ever meet if you have the opportunity to do so) but I feel that this policy can help people of all types and certainly is not limited to a small group of individuals. You see, almost everyone has bad habits, and simply by acknowledging them as such you are well on your way to fixing the problem (no this is not going to turn into a self help novel lol). it is important to figure out what types of activities you enjoy and make it a priority to do those types of things. Most people won’t like the things I do to curb my tv habit and vice versa, so set your own plan and be prepared to stick with it.

For instance, I am of the belief that you should only read books that teach you something. Being a bit of a pessimist to me that means all fiction books are a waste of time, and while I am almost certain there are thousands of people out there willing to give me examples of how they learned something reading a fiction book however I will not be convinced. When I read a book I do so with a clear purpose, to understand the topic at hand significantly better than I did before reading. This obviously will not apply to all people (maybe not even MOST people) but it works for me and finding that which fits your individual personality is the only way to ensure success.

I found after cutting my tv intake down to just 7 hours a week (with saturday college football being the exception) that my productivity has sky rocketed … it allows me to spend more time at my computer developing and working on my code base, all the while generating all new and enlightening problems for me to fix. Problem solving, at least so far seems to have been the best thing about kicking the tv habit for me, I feel like I get to learn infinitely more than I did even when I was in school by simply generating and learning how to fix the problems generated by my work. The only way you can get to a place where where you are not dependent on the television, and critical thinking will make an entry into your everyday life is by making a conscious effort to make that happen.

I challenge all of you reading this post to cut down what holds you back, and make your life the next success story.

Tell me what keeps you from accomplishing your goals. Is it a different habit? a dead-end job? A dismissive family? what did you do or will you do to overcome it?

Use the comments section below or the Contact page to tell me your story!

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