When I wrote the blog post “Deleting without Watching – The Madness and the Guilt” a little over a year ago, little did I know that I was on the cusp of a serious change when it came to my TV habits.
In that blog post, I shared the guilt I felt in deleting programs my PVR had recorded but that I did not even watch. Scandalous… I know!
But in doing so, I was (sort of) following traditional rules of de-cluttering: if it’s been sitting there for a certain length of time and I haven’t watched it, will I ever get back to it? When I was really honest with myself, the answer was pretty clear.
When the new shows rolled out in the fall months of 2016, I gave several programs a chance, but I was getting a little more ruthless in my programming choices. I set a boundary: if after 2-3 episodes I wasn’t really loving the show, why was I still watching? Sadly, only a few survived and remain on my list today. Funny enough, “Designated Survivor” is one of them. (Is art imitating my TV life?)
I hate to admit that using that same rationale, even some shows I enjoyed in recent years have dropped off my must-see list. What happened to the kid who used to push up the national average for TV watching?
You could say that without really thinking about it, I wasn’t watching TV out of habit anymore, I was watching TV with more of a purpose.
Once the bar was raised, the available space on my PVR started increasing… and increasing. And in doing so, not only had I freed up space on my PVR, but time was freeing up in my life as well for things that mattered more. It was a seismic shift.
I started looking at some other rituals, like the 6:00 news, a habit that had been entrenched in my life since the days when we had a black and white TV set and only 3 channels. Today, I already get the headlines from trusty news sources online. I also get them on the radio on my commute to and from work. When I started noticing that I was hearing the same news items 3 times in a day, I cut the 6:00 news routine, which freed up even more time.
Would you believe I feel a bit lighter spiritually as well in moderating my consumption of news?
While I don’t have immediate plans for cutting the cord from my cable company, my reliance on traditional television programming is changing.
I can’t remember the last time I sat down, picked up the remote and just channel surfed, looking for something to watch as I used to do, not that long ago. My auditions of new shows are often at the suggestion of friends, family and colleagues who know what I like to watch.
When I feel I need to watch something uplifting or comforting, I tend to gravitate to a sure thing: some favourite DVDs that I know will be exactly what I am looking for in the moment. If I need to laugh out loud, I have “The Nanny” and “Will and Grace”. If I want soapy drama, I have “Dallas” and “Downton Abbey“. If I want something comforting and relaxing, I have “The Golden Girls” and “Bewitched”. If I want something energizing, I turn to classic game shows like “The Price is Right” and “Match Game”. With all of the above, I have no reservations about playing them over and over, as needed. I consider them Comfort TV on demand.
Also, with the time freed up, I have been checking out classic movies I never saw, or haven’t seen in decades but keep meaning to get back to them.
With writing projects waiting in queue, a stack of books waiting to be read, an active cat looking for attention, renewed fitness goals, the never ending to-do list and barbecue season just around the corner, I can’t feel guilty for tuning out shows that weren’t that important to me in the first place. It’s just TV.
Where TV was once a needed distraction after a hard day’s work, I seem to be successfully finding time for other things and still achieving the same result.
While I still appreciate the hard work and creative effort that goes into producing TV shows, it’s just a question of prioritizing and making special time for the ones I really love.
… and doing so without a self-inflicted guilt trip.
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Have a great day,