How many hours do you think you spend watching TV on an average week? A couple? Three or four? More than twenty? If you stop to think about it, those TV hours don’t take long to add up. In even a moderate TV-watching household, it’s simply amazing how many hours are spent in front of the box. Let’s see, an hour of news seven days a week, five sitcoms, a couple of movies, a quiz show, a cartoon for grownups and a standup comedy special.

Doesn’t exactly sound like couch-potato material, right? But add it up – that’s about sixteen hours – or two full working days’ worth of time – right there. And that’s not even counting daytime TV or breakfast programs.

Makes you think, doesn’t it? If you’d like to free up more of your spare time by turning that TV off more frequently, try some of these techniques.

TV is a habit.

If you work hard all day, by the time you make it home, it’s often just too hard to find the energy to do anything except flop in front of the TV and hope to be entertained while you eat dinner. If you do this five nights per week, you’re in a TV rut. Chances are your sofa has grooves which match the curves of your body. But what’s the alternative? What else can you do to relax at the end of the day?

You need to become aware that it’s possible to break this habit. If you have an ever-increasing pile of unread books, people to call, or after-hours work to do, it will be worth your while to reclaim at least some of your spare time and energy.

What are you eating?

Think about what you’re putting into your body as you vegetate in front of the box. Are you actually nourishing your body or are you too busy watching that sitcom to even think about it? Do you routinely eat a heavy,
pre-packaged, fatty meal in front of the TV?

If so, there’s a good chance that your diet is contributing to your lethargy. Force yourself to stop off at the grocer on your way home and pick up some fresh vegetables. A stir-fry is quick and easy to make, and won’t weigh you down and make you feel that it’s so hard to get up again, you may have to sleep on the couch.

Just for a week, try replacing that beer with a glass or two of fruit or vegetable juice. You may be surprised when the rush of vitamins and natural sugars spark you up and make you feel that you’d rather do something more interesting than watch someone you don’t even know win a new car.

Eating more healthily at the end of the day, and reducing your alcohol intake are also more likely to improve the quality of your sleep. A few days of this new routine, and you might find that you’re not quite so exhausted when you get home.

Turn on a different appliance.

Tonight, when you get home, try this experiment. As soon as you make it in the door, pull on some comfortable clothes, and instead of reaching for the TV’s “on” button, head for the stereo instead. Pop in a CD of your favorite music, preferably something uplifting, and optimistic.

Take some deep breaths as this wonderful sound fills your apartment. Now you’re free to move around as it suits you, rather than confining your quick dashes to the bathroom to the three-minute ad breaks.

If you’re feeling unusually energetic, or you’re expecting guests the following evening, try replacing the TV with another household appliance: the vacuum cleaner. A quick whizz around the carpet while dinner’s bubbling away on the stove, and you’ll have one more chore out of the way, and a great excuse to relax with a book after you’ve eaten.

Speaking of the impending arrival of guests, you could also spend this TV-free time using your kitchen blender, beater or dishwasher to either clear up the mess leftover from last night’s dinner or to pre-prepare part of tomorrow night’s dinner now, while you’re not rushing to get ready too.

Look around your apartment at the many different appliances which, although they don’t offer passive entertainment value, can all really make your life much easier. Why not turn one of them on for a change?

And last but not least, make a quick list of all the things you’re missing out on while you’re watching TV. Now, couldn’t your real life be a lot more interesting than that made-for-TV movie?

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