The Ultimate Lifehack: Gain Back 13.9% Or More Time

More than four years ago I ditched owning cable. Around two years ago I got rid of my TV altogether as I realized I never used it. Along with going car-free, removing TV has easily been one of the best choices I’ve made: I can consciously say I am more focused, productive and awake/in the moment than I’ve ever been.

I grew up in a house with TV, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it in moderation. Anything in moderation is fine, but that’s not how most Americans watch. In fact our culture trends to watching ever-increasing amounts of TV as we age.

To show this, I created a quick graph based on some recent data from Nielsen about TV viewing trends and how much we watch as I think sharing the data visually makes more of an impact than looking at the numbers:

It’s clear that we tend to watch more TV as we age with the only dip occurring between 2-11 and 12-17 years old. Some interesting data points help contextualize this:

  • Teens between 12 and 17 – the group that watches the least amount of TV – watch a staggering 23 hours and 24 minutes of TV a week. That works out to 3.3 hours daily – so basically 13.9%, or more than 1/8th of their life watching TV.
  • Adults 65 and older watch the most TV averaging 47 hours and 21 minutes per week. That works out to 6.7 hours of TV per day, or 28.1%, more than 1/4 of their life watching TV – more than double the lowest age group.

This trend perplexes me, because I find as I get older I’ve had more interests and become continually more conscious of where my time is going. The thought of spending such a high a percentage of life in front of TV is a bit depressing. Time is the most importance resource we have and I don’t know of anyone who ended life and wished they had spent more of it watching TV (if so, that’s really depressing).

What to do with this information? Don’t follow this trend – do something active instead of passive. Removing TV could be the ultimate lifehack to help you achieve this.

I’m not just pontificating here for the sake of it. Here is just some of what I have done in the last 4 years or so without cable:

  • Written more than 550 blog posts here and on other sites (many over 1,000 words)
  • Composed several albums of original music (here’s an introduction to my art if you’re new – it’s free to download and share)
  • Read over 40 books
  • Saved over $2,000 in cable TV bills

I’ve done other things too, but I wanted to quickly highlight just some of the specific uses of what I’ve done with my TV time. And looking back over just four years – I feel like I have a lot to show for it. I actually still watch the occasional show but do so on my own time via Hulu or other online service. I don’t think TV is inherently bad, but think about the amount of time most people spend there. That’s a serious amount of time you will never get back.

The surprising thing is how little I miss owning a TV or cable, and how much more time I started to spend thinking, trying to help my peers and industry and becoming a creator. Further I just feel happier without it. I think most of you would be the same.

It’s so common and expected to own and watch TV. And by reading this you’re already not so common. I guess I wonder – how might you change without it? What might you do with 13% (or more) of your life focused on creating something?

Imagine how much you could create and share with the world. Now go do it.