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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 September 18, 2019

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes.

    I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

    One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

    Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

    The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

    And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

    What to Write Down

    Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

    Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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    Dates of Events

    Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

    For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

    Names of People

    Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

    Theories or Frameworks

    Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

    Definitions

    Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

    Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

    Arguments and Debates

    Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

    This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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    Images

    Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

    Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

    Other Stuff

    Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

    Your Own Questions

    Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

    3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

    1. Outlining

    Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

    Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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    For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

    2. Mind-Mapping

    For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

    Here’s the idea:

    In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

    The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

    If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

    You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    3. The Cornell System

    The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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    About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

    You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

    In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

    You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

    The Bottom Line

    I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

    I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

    More About Note-Taking

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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