Last week, I experienced a long-awaited end to the Lenten season – after which I would have resumed my previous ways, and carnal habits. But in 2018 I continued my pledge. I ended up feeling more refreshed, less full, and in greater control of my life. TV was one of those “add-ons” I had adopted – channel surfing in the evening from one news spot to another, filling my mind with visual and auditory clutter that stuck with me as I slept. Eliminating the flat-screen freed up not just time, but also mental space to dream, plan, express gratitude, sleep, meditate, listen to music, and enrich my spiritual life – all the while feeling like an intruder had just left the premises.
Some accomplish the impossible in the same amount of time as we’re allotted. I would imagine they are ruthless with regard to: (1) what they think about (and thoughts on which they pass); and (2) who they allow into their lives (and people they ignore) – because they realize their mission is just too important to permit distraction. If you are a news junkie, you needn’t go “cold turkey;” but you can choose to limit your electronic diet in the following ways:
- Reduce your ingestion to a short time period, optimally at the same juncture each day. Because much of what is reported is repeated, you probably will not miss much by watching, surfing, or listening for only one-half hour.
- Make a list of all the things you put off/procrastinated, and see how many of these you can accomplish when you reclaim your time from the TV – e.g., personal grooming, exercise, or just silence to see what revelations the universe has in store for you.
- Rework your bedtime routine. Instead of channel surfing when you undo the covers, revisit your “to do” list, and select one item that you could easily complete in bed – like reading. Only one hour of “book-worming” each night can lead to several titles consumed in a single year.
- Extend your TV abstention to all your electronic devices, to include TiVo, DVR, laptop, iPad, iPhone, and droid. The “pings” we continually hear on our handhelds, the ringing of our electronic doorbell signaling that we “got” something distracts us. I now store my droid in a separate room (when I am working), and limit checking to 3x/day – primarily because the mere presence of a cell phone causes stress. Similarly, I pretend my computer does not have wireless – because then I am not tempted to “sneak” onto the Web to check on something that could do quite well on its own without my meddling. The Pandora’s box of “everything” is a slippery slope, one where we may end our search on a completely unrelated topic.
- Formulate goals and set aside time to complete them. Do you wish to lose weight, start a blog, finish a book, script a letter, rekindle a friendship, join a club, volunteer, and/or foster a pet? Setting time aside each day to accomplish our dreams necessitates that we push away the unnecessary.
- Exercise discipline. Reward yourself for the days when you stick to your 3x/day habit (which, after approximately 21 days, should be solidified into routine). To the plugged-in generation, a few hours of absence from e-mail/texting may seem like an eternity – but for those who did not grow up with Internet, it is far less of a stretch. I remember the days with no cell phone, no DVD, and only a single, small black and white TV with stubby foil covered rabbit ears. So much happier! Our electronic tools can seem more like chains than collaborators. Try giving them a breather, and see how much more focused you become.
- Limit cable subscription. The more we have the more we watch, and the greater our potential time wasted. Paring down options saves both time (and money), and provides less to worry about in terms of potentially missed shows.