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Why I’ve Lived Without a TV for 4 Years

  July 15

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Why I've Lived Without A TV for 4 Years In the fall of 2011, I took a massive, massive leap that would change my life forever.

I left my very steady job as a park ranger for the National Park Service, and I moved out of the country to live in the Caribbean where my husband attended medical school.

We lived there for three years before moving back last year, and we learned so many things from that experience. One of the important lessons I learned was how not having a TV in my house made me extremely, extremely productive.

I’ve now gone without one for four years, and I don’t miss it.

4 Years Ago

Now, there actually was a TV in my little tiny apartment in Grenada when I arrived on the island, but we were so broke and strapped for cash that I didn’t want to pay the $30/month bill. So, I had my landlord take it out of our apartment. That was almost 4 years ago to the day.

And wow, as I’m writing this, I shudder to think of that time in my life. I had no savings, $6,000 of credit card debt, piles of student loans, and NO JOB. Oy. I don’t know how I didn’t have a heart attack.

But that bad situation in my life made me work much harder than I ever had before. I started freelance writing, and over the last four years have built the business up enough that I now support my family on my income alone since my husband is still in his last year of medical school.

It might seem like I’m going off topic by talking about how I built my freelance business, but I think it’s really all interconnected.

Basically, I got rid of the TV and suddenly I had nothing to do in the evenings except write. I worked on my blog every night while my husband studied, and to be honest with you, the only time we really missed TV was around football season when we wanted to watch our favorite team, LSU, play college football.

However, we got around it by going to a friend’s house, and now amazingly my husband hardly mentions college football at all. He’s pretty much totally out of the habit of watching it, which is awesome for me because it means he spends more time with us.

The Extra Bonus

You know what took me so long to realize? I am a much happier, calmer person without TV.

I don’t look at any commercials, I don’t suddenly want all the bling that Kim Kardashian has. I turned off the materialism. I turned off seeing violence while flipping the channel. I turned off the trash that did me absolutely no good and certainly didn’t contribute to the betterment of my brain.

We do watch the occasional show online via Netflix or another method. We like watching cooking shows and other random things, but we don’t let it control our lives. We watch it on my iMac while sitting on the sofa as a way to decompress, but gone are the evenings of flipping through channels and letting the hours slip by.

Now, every night we work out, I write, he studies, we tidy up, run to the store, and do whatever else we have to do to keep our house running.

I think we are far more productive without TV and far less negatively affected by the world. It’s done wonders for me. What about you? Would you ever try going without a TV altogether?

Why I've Lived Without A TV for 4 Years

28 responses to “Why I’ve Lived Without a TV for 4 Years

  1. Honestly when I was a teen I wanted watch tv always so I studied in company of it, now I choose to watch tv only if there is a good movie or program to watch, I love read so many time books won on tv…but I can say that in my group I’m the only family that has only 1 tv…but I understand you when you say that you were more productive far from it

  2. We have Netflix and that’s it. The only time I miss something more is when I want to watch NASCAR! I think so many more people would give up TV if it weren’t for the sports aspect!!

  3. I’ve never tried going without a TV, but I did notice that I watched much less TV when I didn’t have cable. I think for me, if I could just tell myself not to watch mindless TV (re-runs, home improvement shows, etc.) and only watch TV shows that I’m really paying attention to, my productivity would improve a lot!

  4. Oh, you struck a cord with me here. I often feel that if I didn’t have the pull of TV I would also find more time to write and be productive without distraction. Not only is it a supreme time-waster (there’s rarely anything great on anyway), cable has gotten so expensive! We’ve toyed with the notion of just switching to netflix, and I think I’m starting to really feel a need to pull away from the tube. Now the internet on the other hand…. that’s even tougher! Your brain must be a calmer space without TV.

  5. We have an antenna haha and Netflix. I never turn the TV on during the day…except maybe once a week for the girls to watch a show on Netflix. My husband and I do watch Netflix or part of a movie every night as a way to relax, though.

    I love what you said about your husband no longer caring about sports! My husband is the same way. He used to watch tons of sports when we had cable…and now that we don’t, he still follows his favorite teams online but doesn’t miss watching the games at all. Win win, haha!

  6. I’ve found that I don’t watch more TV now that we have one, compared with when we just watched shows on the laptop. Though I could see how flipping through channels and having it more accessible could become more of a time suck. It seems that the reason we don’t watch much, and for others saying they don’t, is they have their life built around other types of pastimes, whether it’s writing a blog, DIYing projects, social events, etc. And most of the moms I know simply don’t have time for TV!

  7. I would love to live without TV, but my husband is the naysayer. We lived without cable for 2 years, but when we moved, it actually cost us less to have the cable than to get rid of it. I try not to turn the TV on too much, but having cartoons to distract the littles while I drink my coffee in the morning is a lifesaver.

  8. I didn’t have a TV subscription in college, only Netflix, and I still wasted plenty of time on there. After college I got a TV subscription and I wish I hadn’t I wasted so much money on it over the 2 year contract and I barely ever watched it. I still have Netflix and I added Hulu (which has some benefits and shows that Netflix doesn’t have) and I watch both of them enough to justify the cost, but not so much that I’m not productive. I probably watch about 30 minutes at bed time but that’s it.

  9. We have Netflix, and I do on occasion binge on watching a TV series – one episode right after the other. It often leaves me feeling guilty. Like you and your husband, I like to “decompress” by watching a great show – especially with my husband or one of our daughters – and I think that’s fine. It’s the multiple-episode-binge that has to go.

  10. We gave up cable a long time ago. We have found that limiting our exposure to commercials has been good for the budget and the waistline! We may still be a bit confused about who the Kardashian’s are and why they’re famous!

    We maybe watch a movie on the weekend and occasionally we watch something during week. We’re not quite ready to sell the TV yet; but if gremlins stole it, I don’t think we would miss it!

  11. I thought we did a big thing by cutting cable last year, but I don’t think we could make the full commitment and quit tv altogether. The biggest reason is that I think my son would revolt and a moody 9 year old is not someone I want in my house everyday. I think, though, that I could definitely live without the tv. I rarely watch it as it is and since I spend most of my day in front of the computer, I love the time I spend away from a screen.

  12. I secretly hate TV and everything it has turned the world into. I don’t have cable and I don’t really like watching the regular channels at all. I don’t think I’ll ever have cable. If I have enouhg time to watch a lot of TV, then I am wasting my life!!

  13. We cut cable, which I thought would help make us more productive, but Netflix and the PS3 have a way of filling the time we would have spent watching TV. I do avoid the TV during the school year when I teach, but I would have a much more productive summer if we didn’t have it at all!

  14. I love watching TV, which is exactly why we don’t own a TV. I’m already tempted enough with Netflix (which we only watch on our computer that takes about 30 minutes to turn on), that I don’t think I could handle myself with a TV and a remote control. This is an intentional system that makes it easier to do helpful things than unhelpful things.

  15. Sports is the only reason I keep mine around, but we have a pretty affordable plan so it’s not too bad. I think nowadays though, TV isn’t the only problem as we can easily waste more time on our phones and tablets. I’ve found my smartphone is an even bigger distraction that the TV is, so I make it a point to have it the heck away from me when I’m doing something important. People take selfies of themselves while they’re lifting weights for pete’s sake!

  16. I, too, have gone without TV for many years now. I remember a landlord told us to go ahead and get the cable installed. When we told him we didn’t watch TV, he said in the most sarcastic tone, “What? Y’all read BOOKS?” We were like… yeah. Hahaha! We do watch the occasional Netflix, and have a TV for my husband’s video games–in fact, our NOLA apartment has free cable, and we’ve never once turned it on. Haha!

  17. I am probably in the minority here but I miss having a TV. We watch on our computer but it’s not as relaxing as sitting on a couch. Because we spend less time watching TV (or movies), we spend more time on the web via computer or smartphone. Those are major time sucks, and without the benefit of interaction. My husband and I actually talk more if we’re watching a show together than if we’re browsing the web on different devices. Anyway, my kids are young so we really don’t have time for TV or are too tired once we put them to bed!

  18. I think I can’t live without a TV even for a month. But, I think I can watch TV less than what I usually spend, for example, two hours a day for me to watch news or my favorite TV series. Congrats Cath. This is what I call determination and consistency!

  19. That’s so awesome that you’ve gone this long without tv. I could really use a tv addict program…it’s bad. I have been better since having Little Miss, but I am not sure I could last even a week without it at this point, I should just remove it alltogether! I would be so much more productive.

  20. We have a TV but I could easily live without it. I never turn it on unless its for something like the olympics. Maria has a few shows we let her watch (but I don’t need the TV for them) and Mike lovessss his sports. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t own one!

  21. I have moved on from watching “what’s on”. The commercials were showing me what i am missing out on and just constant slew of stuff i didnt even think a human needs. Ever since I switched to netflix, spending my time watching something is more deliberate. It’s more about being able to choose what you want and when you want.

  22. Great post! You are so right about comparing yourself to others on TV – I am definitely guilty of this. I’m sure it makes a world of a difference! Thanks for sharing.

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