What would you do with an extra four hours a day? We all wish for a 28-hour day at some point or another — but what if we could really find an extra four hours to work or to play or to just do something outside of our normal routine?
For most of the American public, there are four hours a day to spare — according to the A.C. Nielsen Company’s research, the average American watches more than four hours of television every day. These are the same guys that study just about everything about how people watch television and they say that, assuming you live 65 years, you’ll probably spend nine of those years staring at the television.
David’s Note: WOW. 9 Years!?!?
No One Thinks He’s Average
I first heard the ‘four hours’ statistic more than a year ago. I thought to myself that I certainly wasn’t average, that I didn’t spend that much time on the couch. But then I started paying closer attention to how I truly consume media. I’ll have the TV on in the background when I’m working, or I’ll spend an entire weekend watching a television series or I’ll waste an afternoon watching Hulu on my computer. In reality, I’m not nearly as far off from watching four hours a day of television than I thought I was.
Unless you don’t actually have a television in your home — and owning a projector, rather than a TV doesn’t count — it’s worth taking a closer look at how much time you really are spending with that thing on. Even if it’s just running in the background, the television claims a sizable portion of your attention, slowing you down on whatever you’re working on if not entirely distracting you. Personally, I can’t even work out while watching TV.
Cutting Back on Television Consumption
There are a couple of series that I enjoy — that I even flat out love watching. I honestly have no problem with sitting down and watching those shows in terms of the time it takes, even occasionally watching through old series that I’ve seen before. I get a lot of entertainment value out of the time I spend that way.
But I don’t have a good reason to watch old reruns of game shows, soap operas or the other junk that makes up most of the 500 channels that seem to be mandatory if you get cable these days. I will watch them if the television is already on when they air, though, despite knowing that it’s just a waste of my time. I have to really think about getting up and turning off the television so I don’t lose four hours a day.
I’ve made a conscious choice that I do want to watch some television. I don’t think it’s evil or anything like that. But I do believe that I need to be in complete control of what I’m watching and if I’m not getting some benefit out of show — such as truly enjoying it — I shouldn’t have the television on at all.
What Can You Do with Four Extra Hours a Day?
When I compare the amount of time I spent watching television in high school and college, or ‘multitasking,’ as I called it, I’m more than a little sad. I could have started a business in that amount of time and I could have built something incredible.
There are certainly some people to whom I’m just preaching to the choir. I do know a few people who don’t have televisions these days, and even more who don’t have cable (although Hulu or Netflix seem to be gaining a lot of ground). But there’s just as much value, entertainment and potential for time-wasting in a lot of other media. Don’t be afraid to consider other habits in the context of what you could be doing with that time.
Four hours a day is a sixth of our lives. Bring your television consumption down to two or three favorite shows — watch just four hours of television a week — and you have enough time to do anything. Been trying to figure out when you were going to learn more about the stock market and invest in it? Been trying to start a new business? Been wanting to take a few classes to land a promotion? Time really is money and if you choose to spend it on something other than television, you’ll certainly benefit.