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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

11 Reasons You Should Stop Watching Television Now

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11 Reasons You Should Stop Watching Television Now

Are you losing your life to television? Few people realize the number of issues that television causes in our life.

While many people will argue that a little bit of TV never hurt anyone, the amount of a “little bit” is constantly in debate. A Neilson report found that the average American watches more than 34 hours of television each week.[1]

If that number doesn’t shock you I don’t know what will. If you’re now thinking “Those people are crazy—I’d never watch that much” then I invite you to do your own maths. Simply write down all the shows you watched this week and how long they were (including commercials if it was live) plus movies, YouTube videos, etc. and work out roughly how much time you spent in front of the screen.

That number is how many hours you’re losing each week to television. This is time that could be spent with your family, friends or relaxing in other ways. Today we’ll look at some more reasons why you should stop watching television, and how it will improve your life

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Wasting Time

It’s pretty obvious that when you’re watching TV you’re not doing anything else. Time spent watching television is similar to being asleep (although you will see some other consequences below). The question is whether you want to spend even more time in your precious day asleep.

Missing Out on Social Interaction

Every hour you spend in front of the TV is another hour you’re not making the most of your life. You could be playing with your family, hanging out with friends or doing an activity you enjoy. Connection is one of the basic human needs we all have and it will never be fulfilled by your television set.

Programming Yourself with Negativity

Just about every television show, from comedies to drama to reality TV and the news, is negative. If you look at almost any TV show there is a complete lack of positive redeeming messages. While there are exceptions to this rule they are few and far between, so choose carefully what you decide to spend your time watching.

TV Poisons Your Belief Systems

In comedies, we laugh at the stupid/overweight/socially awkward/racial stereotype/different people. The news is filled with stories of pain/suffering/disaster/death, and arguing and drama has to be about problems in order to create the drama. All of this is affecting your outlook on life and the way you see the world.

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It Creates Unrealistic Expectations

Television distorts our understanding of reality. It’s filled with beautiful people doing amazing things and having great adventures every show. Ask any TV or movie star with half a brain and they’ll tell you that the images you see of them on the screen and magazine covers are completely fake.

Feelings of Inadequacy

Life is never going to be like a TV show and this can make people very disillusioned when they compare it with their real life. The messages within television imply on a regular basis that we’re not pretty/smart/funny enough. Our lives can feel quite empty when compared to the perfection of the TV world.

Subliminal Programming and Advertising

Make no mistake that there is only one reason why television exists, and that is to sell products. No one is producing TV shows because they want to create great art. Every single part of every single TV program is designed to keep you in front of the TV and prepped to buy the advertised products through traditional advertising or product placements.

Television is designed to make you feel bad so you will buy products that make you feel better. It’s the ultimate in mind control systems. Companies figured out how to get us to voluntarily brainwash ourselves for their benefit.

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It Degrades Your Self Control and Discipline

Thanks to the incredible psychological hooks that television uses, it’s very hard to stop watching it. We lose our self control and cannot turn off the television even though we may want to. As this continues, our self control and discipline decrease even further and the harder the battle becomes.

The Health Effects of Sitting Down

We now live a more sedentary life than ever before with most people having jobs behind a desk. We compound this problem when we go home and sit down in front of the TV as well, because the electrical activity in our muscles stops when we’re sitting. Research is showing even the most basic movement of walking or moving our bodies in subtle ways can make a big difference to our health.

We Teach Our Children These Habits

Children are now being trained to watch TV and live a sedentary lifestyle. There is a lot of research showing the negative effects on a child’s development due to both inactivity and the influence of television. Your children will imitate your lifestyle. so any choice you make will be echoed in the generations that follow.

Is It Really Relaxing?

My personal argument for watching TV is that it’s easy. You stop working for the day and get to relax and turn off your brain for a while, but the reality is that what is easy for us is hardly ever the best thing.

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I also get to relax when I’m out at a kung fu or dance class. I get to relax when I’m hanging out with friends or spending time with my girlfriend. I also get to relax when reading a book, listening to uplifting audio or even watching uplifting videos (like TED talks or educational materials).

We get one life to live and it’s up to us to make the most of it. Every hour of the day is an investment that pays off right now and in our future. Invest wisely and your life will actually be filled with truly beautiful people doing amazing things and having great adventures.

It’s time to stop watching television and start living instead.

Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

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Craig Dewe

Craig founded Lifestyle Outlaws, with the belief that everyone should have the time, money and health to do what they want with life.

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Published on October 22, 2021

The Flowtime Technique: A Pomodoro Alternative

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The Flowtime Technique: A Pomodoro Alternative

Today, there are countless productivity techniques that claim to help you work at peak efficiency. Among them, few are more widely known and widely used than the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a time management system that suggests that you break down your work tasks into 25-minute chunks and take breaks in between them.

The idea revolves around the notion that most people begin to lose focus after 25 minutes of continuous work and will need a reset to remain productive. But there’s a problem with that idea: no two tasks are the same. And for that matter, neither are any two people! That means a one-size-fits-all productivity system can’t possibly be the best fit for everyone.

But there’s an alternative that provides more flexibility and allows you to customize it for your specific use cases. It’s called the Flowtime Technique, and here’s everything you need to know to use it and start getting more done.

What Is the Flowtime Technique?

The Flowtime Technique, while not as well-known as the Pomodoro Technique, has been around for some time. In many ways, it’s a direct descendent of Pomodoro. It’s the brainchild of Zoe Read-Bivens, and she thought it up as a means of dealing with some of the shortcomings she experienced while using the Pomodoro technique.[1]

She found that sticking to 25-minute work segments often interrupted her flow—the feeling of being immersed in a particular task—and ended up harming her productivity rather than enhancing it. To fix the problem, she sought to create a system that retained the beneficial aspects of the Pomodoro Technique while allowing her to get into a positive flow and stay there.

The Basics of the Flowtime Technique

To start using the Flowtime Technique, the first thing you’ll need to do is create a timesheet to help you manage your daily activities. You can do this with a spreadsheet or by hand, whichever you find most convenient. At the heading of your timesheet, include the following column headings:

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  • Task Name
  • Start Time
  • End Time
  • Interruptions
  • Work Time
  • Break Time

Your timesheet will be the primary way you track your daily tasks and establish a flow that works best for you. Once you have it set up, here’s how to use it:

1. Choose a Task

To get started, choose a task you wish to get done. It should be specific, and something you can reasonably complete in the amount of time you have. In other words, don’t choose a task like “paint my house.” Choose something like “paint the front door of my house.” If you select a task that’s too broad, you’ll have difficulty sticking with the work. So, try and break down what you’re doing into the smallest manageable pieces.

2. Begin Working on Your Task

The next step is to start working on your task. Begin by listing the task you’re going to work on in the appropriate field of your timesheet. Then, list the time you’re starting work. Once you’ve gotten started on your task, the only rule you must observe is that there is no multitasking allowed. This will help you to focus on what you need to get done and minimize any self-imposed distractions.

3. Work Until You Need a Break

You may then keep working on your listed task for as long as you like. If you feel yourself getting fatigued after 15 minutes, take a break. If you get into a productive groove, lose track of the time, and end up working for an hour straight, that’s fine, too.

The idea is to get to know your own patterns and work in segments that fit you best. If you don’t focus well on certain tasks, work on them for shorter durations. If you get absorbed in other types of tasks, maximize your output by working for as long as you feel capable of staying focused.

You’ll likely find that the longest period you’ll be able to sustain is around 90 minutes or so. This corresponds to your Ultradian Rhythm, which are the alternating periods of alertness and rest that our brains experience throughout the day.[2]

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There are plenty of case studies that demonstrate how taking regular breaks improves productivity. It’s one of the reasons that mandatory breaks are a part of the Pomodoro Technique. But there’s evidence that the less-structured Flowtime approach to breaks works just as well. One technology company that recently directed its employees to take breaks every hour as they saw fit saw productivity levels rise by 23%—with no mandate required.[3]

4. Take an Appropriate-Length Break

When you decide you need to take a break, go ahead and do so. Just make sure to write down your stop time on your timesheet in the right place. You can take a break that’s as long or short as you like, but don’t abuse the privilege. Otherwise, it won’t be long until your breaks eat up the majority of your time.

As a general rule of thumb, try taking a five-minute break for each 25-minute work period, and increase your break time proportionally for longer work periods. You should use a timer to make sure you get back to your task in the right amount of time. And when your break ends, don’t forget to record the time you’ve resumed work and list the length of the break you took.

5. Record Distractions as They Happen

While you’re working, there are always going to be times when you’ll get distracted. It may come in the form of a phone call, an urgent email, or even the urge to use the bathroom. When these things happen, record the occurrence in the interruption column on your timesheet. Do your best to keep distractions short, but don’t try and block them out.

The reason is that you’re unlikely to succeed and sometimes, the things that distract you will be a higher priority than what you’re working on. So, it’s important to deal with distractions as you see fit instead of trying to simply work through them.

6. Repeat Until Your Work Is Complete

All you have to do next is to repeat the steps above until the tasks you’re working on are complete. As you complete each task, be sure to record your final stop time. If you wish, you can calculate your total work time (and fill it in) when you finish a task, or you can do all of the math at once at the end of the day.

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All that matters is that you don’t leave any gaps in your time tracking. Your timesheets, once complete, will become an asset that improves your ability to create a work schedule that maximizes your daily output.

What to Do With Your Timesheets

Although the act of recording your work periods and break times will help you remain on-task each day, there’s another important reason you’re doing it. It’s that your timesheets will gradually begin to reveal to you how to craft an ideal daily schedule for yourself.

So, at the end of each week, take some time to compare your timesheets. You may see that certain patterns begin to emerge. For example, you might notice that your longest work periods typically occur before lunch or that there are specific parts of your day that tend to be filled with distractions. You can use this information to plan subsequent days more effectively.

In general, you’ll want to cluster your most important tasks at your most productive times. So, if you are reviewing detailed property records, for example, you can set aside time to do it when you know you’ll be able to focus without interruption.

Conversely, you should schedule less critical work at the times when you’re most likely to be interrupted while working. So if you need time to respond to emails or return phone calls, you’ll know just when to do it. This will not only make you more productive but will also eliminate mistakes in your work.

Key Similarities Between Flowtime and Pomodoro

If you’re familiar with how the Pomodoro Technique works, you may have noticed some similarities with the Flowtime Technique. As we’ve discussed earlier, this is intentional. The Flowtime Technique is specifically designed to retain three critical features of the Pomodoro Technique, which are:

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1. Precise Time Tracking

One of the reasons that the Pomodoro Technique is so effective for many people is that it creates a rigid system to facilitate time tracking. By having to split your work tasks into 25-minute segments, you become acutely aware of the tasks you have in front of you and how you’re using your time. That alone helps you to avoid wasting precious work time because you have to account for every minute. The Flowtime Technique provides this benefit, too.

2. Eliminating Multitasking

With the Pomodoro Technique, you have to choose a task to work on and use a 25-minute timer to measure each work period. This does an excellent job of keeping you on-task because you know from the moment you set the timer what you’re trying to accomplish, and you’re therefore not likely to stray onto another task.

Even though you don’t need to use a timer with the Flowtime Technique, the very act of writing down your task accomplishes the same task. Because you know you’ll be tracking your time spent working on a particular thing, you’ll tend to stick with your task until it’s complete or time for a break.

3. Facilitating Breaks

One of the biggest killers of productivity is exhaustion, and there’s plenty of data to prove that taking breaks is essential to maintaining peak work performance. That’s the real secret to the Pomodoro Technique’s successful reputation—it makes breaks mandatory and unavoidable.

The Flowtime Technique, by comparison, also insists you take breaks. It just doesn’t force them upon you until you’re ready to take one. In that way, some additional self-discipline is required to succeed using the Flowtime Technique. But if you can obey a timer, there’s no reason you can’t learn to obey the signals your body sends you when it needs a time out.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, you may find success using the Pomodoro Technique. There’s a reason it’s so popular, after all. But if you’ve been using it for some time and find yourself straining against its rigid structures, you’re not alone. So, consider giving the Flowtime Technique a try for at least a week or two. You may find it’s a much better fit for your work style and that you get even more done than you ever have before.

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Featured photo credit: Fakurian Design via unsplash.com

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