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Using YouTube To Quit Television

Using YouTube To Quit Television
Using YouTube To Quit Television

Sometimes I can’t believe the amount of television people watch. I used to watch a fair bit, back when I had cable, and I still can’t understand what you can spend so much time watching.

Now I don’t even have the time to watch TV. To be honest, I don’t actually have a television anymore and haven’t sat in front of one in as long as I can remember. When it’s not there it’s very easy to live without. Believe me.

But for those who enjoy staying current and watching some of their favorites: I suggest YouTube. Ever heard of it?

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It’s the only thing I come close to watching that’s like television – probably because most of it comes from TV. But it’s occurred to me what a great nicotine patch YouTube is for anyone who is trying to ween themselves off television.

There are several reasons why watching your shows on YouTube – or any other internet video streaming site, even from DVD – works to your benefit.

  • 1. You have a clear goal. I want to watch this and then I’m done. If you want to watch more, there is an amount of effort required and you’re more likely to do something else.
  • 2. No breaks. Ad breaks get you comfortable doing nothing, sitting looking at non-stimulating images waiting for your show to come back on. This perpetuates the activity of doing nothing.
  • 3. You watch when you want. Because you aren’t tuning in to watch a show at a particular time, you are able to schedule your viewing when it suits you – instead of the other way around.
  • The other reason is that, in the case of any internet-television, you are already at your computer and have the immediate option of doing something more productive. Even Digg or checking Lifehack.org will seem like a better idea!

    You can watch five minutes of ‘television’ in between work. Or give yourself half an hour to look up interesting things on YouTube on your break. The flexibility is there and you should use it. Especially if you’re finding yourself rushing home to catch an episode of Sex & The City. What a waste of effort!

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    The Plan

    Find your favorite television shows on DVD or on the internet. Search them on YouTube or some ‘illegal’ video streaming site. Try watching the shows this way instead of on your television for a few weeks.

    At worst, you can now schedule your television viewing when you want instead of working around it. Watching what you want, when you want.

    The best thing that might happen is you realize how much time it can take away from you with no gain. The average person watches 4.5 hours of television every day, quotes SavingAdvice.

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    To put it into perspective, if you watch an average of 31.5 hours of TV each week (which the average person in the US does) and you value your time at minimum wage of $5.85 an hour, you are spending nearly $800 a month ($798.53) to watch TV. That comes to nearly $10,000 ($9582.30) a year. I would imagine that most people reading this value their time well above minimum wage, so the cost is likely several times that number. When you look at it from that perspective, watching TV is an extremely expensive and financial draining habit to have.

    How Dumping TV Allowed Me to Quit My Job, Create an Online Business and Fund My Retirement Account – [SavingAdvice]

    What could you do with that time and money?

    Steve Pavlina experienced an interesting side-effect after giving up television for a period of time:

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    I’m not exactly sure why, but I felt a compulsion to expand socially, which seemed to grow stronger the longer I went without TV. I just wanted to spend more time with real people, especially face-to-face. I started talking on the phone more, going to more social outings, and accepting more dinner/lunch invitations. I also accepted a couple new speaking engagements that I was previously hesitant to accept.

    8 Changes I Experienced After Giving Up TV – [StevePavlina]

    I can attest to this. There is no longer that crutch to fall back on when you want to do something away from your computer. The funny thing is, talking to people is waaaay more interesting than anything that comes up in a television drama or comedy. And this brings me to my next point.

    5 Things To Do That Are Like TV, But Aren’t

  • See a friend. Everyone has a story and their own trials and tribulations. These almost always rival anything that can be scripted. Your friends will appreciate your time and input.
  • See a show. Go out and see a band, play, exhibition etc. You get the same audio/visual stimulation but with a nice social aspect. You get to meet people who enjoy the same things as you without tagging or stumbling upon anything. Even a movie.
  • Talk to randoms. Even more like TV is going to a pub, for instance, and talking with some randoms. People you don’t know will share their stories if you allow them to. It takes a little more effort than TV or seeing a show, but the experience is always much more rewarding.
  • Go for walks. Wherever you live, there are things to look at. Lakes, street lamps, diners; they all have their own charm and beauty. It’s a much more subtle pleasure, but one that could result in something unexpected.
  • Listen to music. We’re usually listening to music while doing something else like work or going to work. But how about setting some time to just listen to a record and take it all in. I’ve learned a lot more from a few albums than I have from watching television.
  • Do you need it? Do you really want it? In the end, I just ask: Does it really matter what happens to Carrie Bradshaw?

    More by this author

    Craig Childs

    Craig is an editor and web developer who writes about happiness and motivation at Lifehack

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2020

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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