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Turn Off that darn thing… Your productivity level will thank you

By Marques • Sep 26th, 2007 • Category: Habits, Personal Development, Productivity, Time Management

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The widespread of TVs around the world was a milestone for culture and cultural diversity: news from all over the globe are just at the tip of our fingers, documentaries can teach us something that we would never even remember to think of, etc. Nonetheless, TV is only useful when consumed in moderation.



Before I go into more detail, I’d like to give you some numbers to think about:

  • Percentage of U.S. households that possess at least one television: 99
  • Number of TV sets in the average U.S. household: 2.24
  • Number of hours per day that TV is on in an average U.S. home: 6 hours, 47 minutes
  • Number of hours of TV watched annually by Americans: 250 billion
  • Percentage of Americans who say they watch too much TV: 49


Does this surprise you? To me it did. I knew that watching TV has turned almost into a “social or family event”, but had no idea how bad the situation really is.

But it’s not only in the US…

Bellow is the average number of hours spent watching TV per week per person:



Effects on Productivity

 Before going more directly into productivity matters let’s crunch those numbers a bit. If you consider an average of 4 hours watching TV per day per person, on the US alone, more than 250 billion hours of TV are consumed annually. At just $5 per hour this translates into a “loss” of $1.25 trillion per year.

And that is not all. If you consider that, on average, a TV station dedicates between 20 to 30% of the broadcasting time to advertisement, you can fairly say that the average american wastes more than 15 non-stop days watching advertisement.

Does this strike you as odd, knowing that most people say that they don’t have enough time to do everything they like?

A funny story was shared by golbguru from the Money, Matter, and More Musings blog about his Relationship with Television in which he notes that the TV-free time (when he didn’t have a TV set) was the most productive in his life.

Now, I’m not preaching a TV-free world. I have a TV and if I calculate a bit I can say that I spend around 4 hours per week watching it. But this is for me the essential (news, the occasional movie, documentaries).

Can you imagine having an extra 4 hours a day in your life to do things that are really important and can bring true value (not only money) to your life?


There are so many things you could be doing instead of turning zombie-like in front of the box that are just too numerous to mention. A good approach is to think about the small things that you know you should be doing but that are simply not that urgent. Leave the “one of these days” thinking behind and start doing them. You’ll see an immediate increase not only on how productive you feel but also on how much less stress you have. Above all, invest your time in things that increase your personal value. What is on TV comes and goes, but what you are and what you know stays forever.

If you are out of ideas of what to do with those extra 4 hours (is this even possible?), Trent at the Simple Dollar blog gives 10 alternatives for TV time:

  • Start an exercise plan
  • Prepare meals
  • Read a book you?ve always wanted to read
  • Start a second business
  • Be social
  • Take an evening class
  • Learn a new skill or a new hobby
  • Take on a major project
  • Get things done
  • Take care of whatever bothers you

Do you still have an excuse? Now go turn that darn thing off and start investing in things that really matter.

If you have done this already, share with us what changed in your life, for better or worse. Comments are open…

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4 Responses »

  1. The results are surprising indeed. Who would’ve thought that a “social or family event” could create a big problem, especially with the use of our time.

  2. I would say that we made it into a social, or worse, family event. It’s easy and accessible so it’s the first choice for many. But it gets addictive. It’s always there looking to kill a bit of your time.

  3. It’s ironic how technology shaped our lifestyle. Instead of making our lives better, it caused a variety of problems, especially for people who don’t know how to use their time.

  4. Technology increased life quality, but careful adaptation is needed. And a lot of common sense, which is what I think many people lack.

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