I’m assuming after a long day at work you want to spend quality time with your family, catch up on a few house to-dos, read a book, maybe work on a hobby. Then, spend some time relaxing and a full night of restorative sleep, so you can meet the next day recharged and ready!
I know that’s what you want to do, but you’re probably thinking, “Yeah, right! In your dreams!”
We all wish we could read more, spend more time with our kids, and not feel swamped every evening. But most people struggle to live up to their at-home ideals—it just seems like there are not enough hours in the day!
So why do so many of us seem to lose control of our lives after the workday is done? The answer might be in how much time we’re devoting to our screens.
No, I’m not saying you need to stop watching your favorite show or throw out all your technology! However, with these rules in place for your screen time, you’ll be surprised how much more fulfilling and effective your life at home becomes:
- No TV on weeknights
- Create a TV-free space
- Limit screen time to one hour a day
- Make good habits a priority over screen time
More time with screens means less time for life
Way back in 2016, I saw a Nielsen Ratings statistic that, on average, Americans watched five hours of TV a day. When Shane & I saw this, we were blown away. We decided the new rule was no more TV on “school nights”—for everyone in the house—starting immediately!
I’m sure you’ve also seen the shocking numbers showing how much time we spend watching TV and looking at our phones. What’s truly shocking is that these numbers keep increasing year after year.
All the recent cord-cutting doesn’t mean we’re consuming less media. We just replaced cable TV with Netflix—and piled on half a dozen other streaming services. Then, during the pandemic, we all found ourselves suddenly spending a lot more time at home.
Business Insider reported that in 2020, our average overall time spent on media (all media, not just “TV”) had increased to over 13.5 hours a day. That’s 3.5 hours more than our daily average back in 2016!
(If you think those numbers are hard to believe, don’t forget how much we multitask—if you are watching TV for an hour while looking at your phone the whole time, they count as two hours spent with media.)
With all the time we devote to our screens, it’s no surprise that average Netflix users finish an entire season of a show in 4-6 days. But wait—is polishing off 25 hours of TV really what you wanted to accomplish this week?
Are your TV habits getting in your way?
Do you turn on the TV for background noise? Do you turn on the TV in the morning for the weather report—and then leave it on? Do you turn on the TV to unwind at night? Do you ever lose track of time while using media?
If you’ve got other things that are truly more important to you than screen time, you need to make them a priority. If you’re saying, “I wish I could read more books at home, but I never have the time,” what you’re really saying is, “For me, reading books isn’t a priority.”
Like I always say—If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse!
If you feel bad about how you’re spending your time, realize that you can change it! All it takes is a little effort.
Make new habits to take back your time!
No TV on weeknights
I already mentioned our first new habit to take back our time: No TV on weeknights! I remember going through the mental anguish! “But what about ‘Biggest Loser’?!” Sure, maybe you’ll be “behind” on your shows—but you’ll be ahead all week doing the things you actually want to do. You can catch up on the weekend!
You’ll feel an adjustment in your evenings right away. Everything changes! You’ll be more productive without the distraction—dinner gets made faster when you’re not trying to watch a show at the same time. Chores are finished more efficiently. The best part? You’ll have more meaningful conversations with your family without a TV competing for everyone’s attention.
Create a TV-free space
The second thing we did was to create a TV-free space in our home. Many people know that having a TV in your bedroom is a bad idea—it interferes with your sleep and can even affect your marriage. We took things one step further. When we moved a few years ago, we created a TV room in a spare bedroom—and kept our living room TV-free.
So many of our friends notice right away something’s missing, and ask, “Where’s your TV?” Taking the TV out of our living room allowed us to focus on using that room for actual living—being together, reading, relaxing, having conversations. Watching TV is now a conscious decision, instead of turning it on “just to have something in the background.”
Limit screen time to one hour a day
Thankfully, phone manufacturers have started making it easier to track and limit our screen time. I limit my screen time to one hour a day. Having automatic limits on apps like Instagram or YouTube is great! Deep down, we know we’re usually just wasting time—so when the timer runs out, it’s not a big deal. You got your 20 minutes of Instagram scrolling in for the day, and you can move on to doing something else.
Obviously, you don’t need to limit the hours you’re using your phone for business. With a few common-sense limits placed, you’ll keep yourself from mindlessly looking at your phone when you actually wanted to be reading a book. I limit the time I spend on apps to 30 minutes a day.
Make good habits a priority over screen time
Here’s another great way to ensure your priorities are straight: Implement a no screen time rule until everyone in the house exercises, reads, or practices their new hobby. It’s easy to just pick up our phone or turn the TV on. All too often, our brains just go for the easiest thing to do—and suddenly, the day is over, and we haven’t accomplished what we really wanted to get done.
By choosing to spend time on our goals first, screen time takes a back seat. If you need a reminder, your phone can help—for example, I’ve set an alert that says “Read a book!” to go off every evening. You might even get so into your book or hobby that you completely forget to look at Twitter!
Take back your week!
When we talk about “not having enough time,” we really need to pay attention to how we’re using our time. Chances are, we’re wasting precious hours on something like TV or social media—things that feel easy to do but aren’t getting us closer to accomplishing what we want to do.
Managing your time wisely—both at home and the office—is the key to having a balanced, enjoyable life.
Until next time—go sell some stuff!