How to Watch Less TV

As I’ve recently explained, I have taken a decision to watch less TV. Things came to a head at the weekend when I realised that as soon as I was at a loose end I’d pick up the remote and start flicking through, and even if there wasn’t anything I wanted to watch, I’d watch something anyway just to fill the time.

Well, filling the time isn’t my idea of living and in the end TV was stealing those hours of my life I could have been giving to something – or someone – else. What’s worse is that family viewing has gone out of the window now that we all have our own ‘devices’ on which to watch things. There’s a recent advert for Deliveroo (I think) where a family sits down to dinner and thanks to the magic of the internet (it might have been Just Eat, I can’t remember) they each have exactly what they want. But then they sit down and watch the same thing on TV whereas in reality as well as eating different things they’d all have been in different rooms watching something different. Practically the only programme (apart from the odd film) that counts as family viewing these days is Dr Who, and we only get one series of that per year.

So TV is the thief of conversation as well as time – and the time has come to do something about it.

I didn’t do too badly last night; decided I’d watch Mastermind and finish last night’s episode of Murder 24/7, a terribly prosaic but nonetheless compelling police documentary. Then at nine I started watching the latest episode and managed half an hour before a bit more reading and then bed. It’s hard to change habits, particularly when you’re tired and don’t want to make much mental effort, but planning your evenings helps. So rather than sitting down, picking up the remote and trying to find something to watch I decide what I’m going to watch and switch the damned thing off in between. Result: happiness, as Mr Mickawber might have said, and how true. I’m happier because I’m focussing more on what I view instead of it going down without touching the sides and leaving me wanting more. And in between times I read some of the latest haul from the library. These are:

A Study in Scarlet – the original Holmes as background for a fan-fic piece I’m doing.

The Detective’s Daughter by Lesley Thomson, an author I don’t know but who comes recommended by Ian Rankin

Another volume in the Neapolitan quartet, The Story of a New Name. This is the second volume and immediately precedes the one I just finished – and surprisingly I also got…

His Right Hand, which I picked up at random and which turned out to be a Mormon crime novel. I didn’t even know that was a thing! Well it may not be – Mette Ivie Harrison may be the only writer in this genre – but it’s fascinating for the insight it affords into the Mormon church as the only other account I’ve read is The Nineteenth Wife, a semi-autobiographical account of a small Mormon sect who still practise polygamy.

His Right Hand is the story of a murder which touches on aspects of the church’s conservatism and patriarchy and contains rather too much exposition – show don’t tell seems to have passed her by – but is fascinating nonetheless. I’ll get to a review of these later.

So here are my top tips for watching less TV:

1. Monitor yourself (no pun intended) and observe when and how you watch, and how you feel afterwards

2. Plan your viewing. Unless you work nights, don’t watch TV during the day. Wait until after dinner.

3. Don’t watch TV while eating. It’s a distraction and depending on what you watch, it may encourage you to eat more. If you’re alone, read a book or listen to the radio. If you’re with others, converse. Dinner table conversation is a great form of bonding.

4. Plan your evening. Make a list (mental or otherwise) of what you plan to watch, and in between programmes, Turn It Off! Read a book or chat instead.

5. Notice whenever you regret ‘not having time’ for a hobby or activity. I’ve got sewing languishing in a corner; you might have a carpentry project or some gardening. Not all hobbies are suitable for evenings and some may require a longer time to get going but plan to do this at the weekend or whenever you have more time.

6. If you’re so exhausted that you can’t possibly contemplate anything but sitting in front of the box, turn it off half an hour before bed and read instead.

All these things require some effort, but it’s well worth it.

So.. this evening my plan is to get out the piano keyboard and have a good long play on it as OH will be out. I’ll let you know how that goes. And if you try any of these suggestions let me know how you get on.

Kirk out