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Did you know that, on average, Americans watch five hours and four minutes of television every day?
Even if you only cut those hours in half and found something to do instead of watching TV, there is a good chance that you could accomplish something great!
In this article, we will go over 99 things that you can do with your time (right now!) instead of watching TV.
We canceled our cable subscription over a year ago, and it has been one of the best decisions we've made, for both the kids and us. We save more money, we waste less time, and we have found many more constructive ways to spend our time.
If you do not feel like you are accomplishing your goals in life, of if you are always short on time, stop to analyze how much you are sitting around all day watching TV. Watching too much TV could be a major roadblock to your success.
Are you looking for ideas of what to do instead?
Here are 99 things you can do with your husband, wife, or kids instead of watching TV.
Immediate Actions You Can Take
1. Cut your cable subscription.
If you are under contract, you may have to pay a fee to do this. In the end, it is worth it. You are buying back your time that can be spent on reaching your goals instead of watching TV all day.
2. Make sure that the TV is not the focal point of your family room.
You don't want the television to be the center of attention. Instead, make the furniture conducive to conversation and interaction with each other.
3. Set TV rules for both adults and kids.
If you and your kids each have a show that you truly enjoy and use as an outlet to “get away,” don't deprive yourself of enjoying that. Just set some limits on your television watching time, and make sure to stick to them.
4. Monitor and track how much time you watch TV every day.
Make sure you don't let time get away from you when you are watching TV. One show may easily lead to a second, which can then lead to an entire afternoon in front of the television. Be strict about how much TV you are watching, and know when it is time to turn it off.
5. Limit and schedule your TV viewing every day.
If there are only one or two shows that you enjoy, pick the exact time of day that you will spend watching them. Perhaps make this an after-dinner ritual, and get in the habit of keeping the television off outside of these hours.
6. Hide your TV.
Keep your television out of sight and out of mind. If you don't allow it to tempt you during the day, you are less likely to waste your time and end up watching it. Keep other things out in the open, such as books, magazines, and games that you can play with your family.
7. Set an alarm when you watch a particular show.
If you choose to watch your preferred show after dinner, set an alarm to begin the show, and be sure to also set an alarm for when the show is over. This will keep you on schedule and not allow you to go over your allotted amount of time for watching TV.
8. Eat meals with the TV turned off.
It is never good to eat in front of the television because you are more likely to mindlessly eat a lot more than you intended. It also causes you to be distracted from both the television and your food, so you are not fully focusing on either.
Take the time to sit at a table and focus on your meal during mealtime, and fully enjoy the television that you choose to watch.
9. Create a TV-viewing schedule with the family.
Everyone in your family likely enjoys different television shows. Don't sit around and watch what everyone else enjoys while you could be spending your time doing things that could help you reach your long-term goals.
Instead, create a schedule so everyone has their specific time to watch the shows that they enjoy, and then pass the remote on to the next person.
10. Use the TiVo to your advantage.
Not only will this allow you to watch your favorite television shows at your convenience, it will also let you fast forward through the commercials. This can help save you the time that is wasted on advertisements.
11. Commit to reading at least 50 pages of a book before watching TV.
By the time you are done the reading, chances are that you will not want to watch television. You may get so into the book that you want to continue reading it. Reading can also help you garner success because it continues to build up your bank of knowledge.
12. Don’t start any new shows.
Once you start a show, you may get so into it that you don't want to stop watching it. Stop this temptation of binge-watching television by making the decision to not begin watching a new series.
13. Only turn on the TV to watch a particular show.
This is similar to not giving in to the temptation of window shopping. If you know exactly what you want to watch when you turn on the television, you will not be tempted to “shop around” for other shows to watch. When you watch television, do it with intent.
Here's where a online streaming subscription may come in handy. With one, you can choose to watch only selected shows, such as the best family shows on Netflix.
14. Give your extra TVs to charity.
You don't need a television in every room. Keep just one room dedicated to watching TV in your house, and leave the rest of the space available for more constructive activities.
15. Cut down on channels.
The fewer channels you have, the fewer you will watch. This will also help to save on your monthly bill.
16. Hide the remote control.
If you don't walk past the remote control every time you walk into the living room, you won't be reminded that the TV is there, waiting to help you procrastinate. Hide the remote control away and fill your side tables with books instead.
17. Use the TV timer.
This will automatically turn off the television after a certain amount of time. Set it for 30 minutes or an hour, and once the television is off, don't turn it back on.
Boost Your Productivity
18. Read a book.
If you are reading, you are learning. Find a book about something that interests you, or something that you know nothing about, and read up on the subject.
19. Go to a museum.
Many museums offer memberships that allow you to visit for free throughout the year. Take your family and visit all of the local museums to find out more about history, art, or your city.
20. Rethink your goals.
Has it been a while since you have sat down and considered your short- and long-term goals?
They likely change as life goes on, so stop and take the time to rethink your goals and what you should be doing to achieve them. (These free goal-setting worksheets can help.)
21. Listen to music.
Listening to music can be a very therapeutic way to spend your time. You can allow your mind to wander while having the background noise of your favorite music rather than television commercials.
22. Go to the library.
There is so much to see and discover at a library, you are always likely to find something entertaining and useful.
If you don't know exactly what you want, just walk through the aisles or check out the new releases and you are sure to get sucked into something that interests you and that can teach you something.
23. Unsubscribe to email newsletters.
Unless you're subscribed to business email newsletters you actually read, junk mail is a waste of time and isn't likely to provide you with any information that is useful to your long-term success.
24. Attend a concert.
This is a fun way to make a memory with your friends and family, while also listening to some great music. Be sure to check out local free outdoor concerts as well, and pack and picnic for the evening.
25. Create email templates.
This will make writing emails a lot faster. Rather than having to write out your signature each time you compose an email, allow the information to come up automatically with an email template. Make several different templates for both personal and professional use.
Enhance Your Health and Physical Fitness
26. Find free attractions in your city.
There are probably a lot of hidden gems in your city that you are not even aware of. Check out the free activities, and take advantage of the things your city has to offer.
27. Watch the sunset or sunrise.
Unless you are on a beach vacation, you probably don't take the time to sit and watch the sunset or sunrise. Make a point to carve out the time, and find somewhere in your city where the sunset and sunrise are beautiful to watch.
28. Do yoga.
This is a great way to relax your mind and body, and re-center your thoughts. Either find a local yoga class or buy a DVD that allows you to practice at home. Once you learn some poses, you will even be able to do it on your own without any guidance.
Resource: Want to learn more about practicing Yoga? Check out the best books about yoga.
You may not remember all of the constellations you learned in middle school, but that doesn't mean you still can't enjoy the stars. Let your mind wander as you try to visualize everything that is out there in the universe.
30. Play with your pet.
Not only will this benefit you, but it will benefit your pet as well. Get outside with your pet, and get some exercise in the park or on a walk. Discover some new walking trails with your loyal friend, or go to a local dog park to meet the neighbors' pets.
This real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game is a fun way to find hidden objects in your area. You can work alone or with your family to navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates to look for a geocache hidden at that location.
32. Go for a bike ride.
Not only is this a great form of exercise, but it is also a fun way to get out and see parts of your city that you may not see on a regular basis. Check out the local trails, or even find a group of people who ride together every week, and join in on the fun.
33. Go for a swim.
Whether you belong to the local pool or you live near the water, going for a swim is a great way to exercise without putting too much pressure on your joints.
34. Go for a hike.
Get out and get some fresh air while discovering the local hiking trails in your area.
Resource: Check out awesome hiking ideas and lessons for beginner& intermediate hikers.
35. Go camping.
Disconnect from technology and connect with nature by spending some time in the woods.
36. Have a bonfire.
While you are camping, set up a bonfire to sit around and roast some marshmallows. This is a great way to make memories with your friends and family, and have meaningful conversations.
Reduce your stress levels by learning how to meditate. People who are not living in the present moment are often distracted by many other things on their minds. They're too busy with various thoughts to be able to function in their full capacity. Meditation allows you to live in the present moment.
Resource: Beginner's guide on how to meditate
38. Train for a marathon.
This will help your physical and mental endurance.
39. Go for a walk.
Going for a walk is one of the easiest ways to clear your mind. Your walks don't always have to be long. Just take a stroll to clear your head.
40. Go fishing.
Enjoy a relaxing day on the water with friends or by yourself fishing. This is a fun activity that doesn't require too much equipment to get started.
41. Have a picnic.
Enjoy a meal outside. Take a picnic basket to a local park, or even just into the backyard, and have a picnic with your family.
42. Go rock climbing.
Whether you do indoor rock climbing or actually get outside and do the real thing, learn something new by trying this sport out and seeing what you can accomplish.
43. Plan your meals.
44. Complete maintenance around your home.
Have you been looking at that chore to-do list for weeks, promising you will get it done soon? Hunker down and work on getting some things done around the house to improve your living space.
45. Start a garden.
Whether you want to plant flowers or fruit trees, having a garden is a great way to beautify your lawn while also getting in some light exercise.
46. Alphabetize your spices.
Combine half-empty bottles and throw away anything you will never use again. Put what you have in order so you can find it easily next time you need it.
47. Organize one kitchen drawer a day.
Every kitchen drawer gets messy, especially the “junk” drawer. Pick one drawer each day to empty out and clean, organizing its contents and cleaning out the dust.
48. Organize paperwork, drawers, crafts, your basement and/or attic, and more.
While you are busy during the week, you probably don't take the time to put things away correctly. Go through your house and undo all of the tossing around of items that you have done, and get yourself organized.
49. Fix something around your home.
Does the toilet in your guest bathroom keep running, or has a light bulb been out for weeks? Knock some broken things off of your to-do list.
50. Learn to cook better meals.
Your family may be sick of eating the same old thing night after night. Try some new recipes to keep everyone guessing at dinnertime. This can be especially helpful if you focus on natural, whole foods.
51. Get rid of your clutter.
If it is something you are not using on a regular basis, throw it away or donate it. Make some room for new things that can benefit you right now.
52. Clean out your pantry.
Look at the expiration dates on all of your pantry items, and throw away anything that has gone bad.
Improve Your Relationships
53. Cook a meal for someone.
Not only will you be doing something nice for someone by cooking a meal for them, but you can take the time to eat it with them and reconnect.
54. Send someone a thank-you note.
This doesn't have to be for anything in particular—maybe you just want to thank someone for being a good friend. Think of someone in your life that you are thankful for and let them know. Send them a thank you note.
55. Plan a get-together.
Think of someone who you enjoy spending time with, but maybe haven't seen in a while. Plan something fun for the two of you to do together so you can catch up.
56. Spend time with family or a friend.
Go for a walk, or sit down and have tea. As long as you are interacting, spending time with friends or family can be very therapeutic.
57. Meet up with your friends.
Get everyone together for a fun-filled game night or a potluck dinner.
58. Go out and meet new people.
Find people who share your same interests, and get to know them. Look online for a local meet up group to make some new friends.
59. Call someone you love.
This doesn't have to be someone you haven't spoken to in a while—it can be someone that you actually see on a regular basis. Just let them know that you are thinking about them and that you love them.
Learn New Skills
60. Graphic design.
This is a fun hobby that could actually earn some money if you choose to go professional. Graphic design is always in high demand.
61. Furniture making.
Get creative and learn how to design and build your own furniture. Not only is this a fun way to pass the time, but you can also create some new things for your own home.
62. App development.
Who knows—you might be the one who comes up with the next must-have app! Think of something that you would find useful on your phone that there isn't an app for and try to develop one yourself.
This is a great creative outlet, but it is also a way to connect with other people. Everyone loves to receive baked goods, so make some and share them with friends.
64. Web development.
This is another skill that is in high demand in our technology-driven society.
65. Affiliate marketing.
Is there a brand or company that you love and are a loyal customer of? Refer others to that company or product to help boost their sales.
If there is a subject about which you feel you are an expert, or that you are just very interested in, start a podcast. This can also help you connect with others who share your same interests.
Learning how to code is a valuable tool these days. If you make a profession out of it, you can work your own hours and set your own job rates.
If you're looking for more tips on how to learn a new skill faster, take a few minutes to watch this video about just-in-time learning and how to use it to your advantage:
Make Extra Money
68. Be a house-sitter.
Get a few solid references and then let people know that you have started your own business of housesitting while they are away. Make sure to go over and above your duties so you will get referrals and be asked to housesit again in the future.
69. Be a bookkeeper.
A lot of small companies hire a third-party person to handle their books. Look into some job listings for people who need help with this.
70. Be a caregiver.
Whether you are caring for pets, children, or an elderly family member, caregivers are always needed.
71. Sell on Amazon.
Do you have a lot of old books and DVDs just lying around? Sell your stuff on Amazon to clear out the clutter and make some extra cash.
72. Mystery shop.
Signing up to be a mystery shopper can be fun! Companies will hire you to go into their stores and give an honest review of the quality of the stores and the attitudes of the employees.
73. Start a photography business.
Invest in a high-quality camera and start creating a portfolio. This hobby will quickly pay for itself if you can get a few photography gigs.
74. Be a TaskRabbit.
While you are out running your own errands, you might as well do it for someone else too! This is a great way to bring in extra cash if you have some time during the day to spare.
75. Be an Uber or Lyft driver.
This popular side job can bring in a lot of money. Create your own hours and work as much or as little as you want.
76. Answer online surveys.
Companies will actually pay you for your opinion! A lot of companies do market research online and will pay you money just to answer a few questions about their product or your lifestyle.
77. Be a movie extra.
Check out the local news to see if any movies are being shot in your area. If so, sign up to be in the background!
78. Find an online job as a proofreader or content editor.
If you are very skilled with grammar and punctuation, find someone online who could use some help, and offer your services!
79. Start blogging for profit.
What is your passion or something that takes up a lot of your time in life? Whether it is cooking, family, traveling, or doing art, start a blog about it so other people can keep up with your adventures.
80. Start a side hustle.
Are you good at crafts, or maybe enjoy doing yard work? Start a personal business with something you could offer friends and neighbors.
81. Host a garage sale.
Clean out your attic, your closets, and your garage, and advertise a yard sale. This will make you some extra money and get rid of your clutter.
82. Start a dog-walking or pet-sitting business.
This can make you some extra money while also giving you a chance to get some exercise.
Manage Your Finances
83. Do your taxes, or learn how.
Do you pay someone every year to complete your taxes for you? Take a class or grab a book from the library and learn how to do them yourself.
84. Read a financial planning article or book.
You will learn something new from reading a financial planning article or book that will likely save you a good amount of money. It can also teach you how to be frugal in the future on items that you may be wasting money on now.
85. Start couponing.
Yes, you can clip coupons and save them in a folder, but also look into couponing apps on your smartphone that you can bring with you to the store. These can save you money on everyday purchases, and even earn you cashback for things that you would buy anyway.
86. Learn how to invest.
Investing money probably seems overwhelming and confusing for those who have not had any experience doing so. Take the time to learn how the stock markets work, and start making small investments to get used to the process.
87. Review your budget.
You will probably find a lot of places where you are spending more money than you need to if you take some time to review your budget. Look over your bills and income, and see where you can make some changes.
Resource: Learn more about making a budgeting habit.
88. Review your finances.
How are your savings accounts doing? Are you on track for your long-term financial goals? Look to see what kind of money you have in your bank account, and make any adjustments necessary to stay on track.
Resource: Learn some essential money habits.
89. Organize your receipts and billing statements.
Go through your recent purchases to see if they were all necessary. If not, try to return the items that you do not need. Also, make sure there are no mistakes on your billing statements.
Take Better Care of Your Mental Well-Being
90. Give ready-to-go-bags to the less fortunate.
You will always feel better about yourself if you help others who are in need. Create bags of things that you feel like you would appreciate, and give them to those who need them the most.
91. Donate blood.
Taking just 20 minutes out of your day could help save the lives of three people.
92. Become a Big Brother or a Big Sister.
Children need positive role models in their lives, and some don't have them available. Step up and get to know a child and make an impact on their life.
93. Spend some time on Free Rice.
Help end world hunger by playing games online and answering questions. Here's their website.
Do you love animals or children, or feel like you are a great cook? Find a pet shelter or an elementary school where you can donate your time. You can even volunteer to cook dinners for the homeless and share your culinary talents.
95. Donate items from your home.
Perhaps someone gave you a kitchen appliance or a piece of clothing that you will never use or wear. Gather these items together and take them to your local thrift store or homeless shelter.
96. Smile and say hello to everyone you cross paths with.
You don't have to stop and have a lengthy conversation. Just stop and share a friendly smile to help brighten the days of other people.
97. Find a new hobby.
If you can't think of anything off the top of your head, just do a little research online to see what other people are doing. You are sure to find something that piques your interest.
98. Foster an animal.
There are always animals that are between homes. Give an animal a break by giving them a loving home before they are adopted.
99. Do some mindfulness exercises.
Focus on the present moment. Forget about the past for a while, and stop being anxious about the future. Focus on the here and now to help find peace of mind.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do Instead of Watching TV
Ultimately, it's up to each individual to weigh the pros and cons of watching TV and decide whether it's a healthy and productive use of their time. While there are certainly benefits to watching TV, the list of potential drawbacks can't be underestimated.
If you need a more compelling reason to stop watching TV, read our article on why you should stop watching the news.
What do you do instead of watching television? Leave a comment with your ideas so you can help other people get out and live their lives to the fullest.
Be sure to share it on your favorite social media site!
Finally, if you want to level up your productivity and time management skills, then watch this free video about the 9 productivity habits you can build at work.