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50+ Things to do Instead of Watching TV

Updated: Jul 26

How many hours do you watch TV per day - 2? - 3? - more?


I'm as guilty as the next person for flicking through Netflix when there seems like there's nothing else to do. It's hard not to - especially when there's a really good series that you're into.


When I used to work in an office, I couldn't really be bothered to do anything else after work other than watch telly. I didn't see anything better that I could do with my time - I had my job, I was making money - my productivity for the day was out of the way.


But when I realised that I wanted more from my life, and that I had the spare time to do something about it, I started replacing my TV time with other things. It's amazing what you can get done with just a spare hour every day.


The average person in the UK watches more than 30 hours of TV per week - imagine what you could accomplish if you spent even half of that time working on your life goals instead.


It's hard to imagine life without a television, because most of us have grown up with them all of our lives. But do you think people were any less happy before TV was invented - I doubt it - they found plenty of things to do with no TV or internet.

 

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Disadvantages of watching too much TV:

  • Health risks due to insufficient exercise

  • Wasting time that could otherwise be spent productively or socially

  • Losing touch with reality, by only ever seeing dramatisations

  • It's addictive - once you're into a routine of watching it, it's hard to stop

  • It's created for the sole purpose of advertising to you

Here's what to do instead of Netflix:


Get Organised


Getting organised might not be the most fun thing in the world, but it helps you get your head straight, gets the unpleasant things out of the way and makes you feel good afterwards.

  1. Make a list - it might feel overwhelming when you think of all of the tasks you've got to do. It really helps to get them down on paper and tackle them one-by-one.

  2. Complete the tasks on your list and cross them off - physically crossing them off when they're done feels good psychologically which motivates you to do more.

  3. A tidy home = a tidy mind. A space that feels cluttered can add to that overwhelming feeling which makes you just want to do nothing at all. Have a thorough clean and tidy - it might be unpleasant, but it will be worth it when it's done.

  4. Set some goals - think about what you want to achieve in life and write it down. Then add dates of when you want to achieve them by. A dream will only ever be a dream if it stays in your head. Put it on paper and commit to achieving it.

  5. Create a plan of action: for each goal that you've set, break it down into smaller tasks and add dates onto each one. Doing this makes it feel more achievable which will motivate you to stick to it.

  6. Fix something - finally fix that broken thing that you've been avoiding for so long. Doing so will give you a sense of achievement and will motivate you to get more chores done.

  7. Rearrange a room to give your house a new fresh layout - it's good to mix things up sometimes.

  8. Decorate your house - get on with repainting that room that you've been putting off for so long. Or do the whole lot for a fresh new style throughout.

  9. Sell some of your possessions - declutter your home by selling your unwanted possessions on eBay, Shpock, Gumtree etc. It makes your house feel tidier, and gives you a bit of extra pocket money.

  10. Back up your files - nothing is more devastating than losing your files, photos or hard work because of a computer error, or you've accidentally deleted them. Back up regularly to an online cloud storage, memory stick or other storage device.

  11. Sort out your photos. Everyone has a lot of photos these days, but they do clutter up your life sometimes. Have a sort out - delete ones you don't want, organise them so they're all in one place, and back them up somewhere else. If you've still got some old developed photos lying around, get those scanned and backed up as well.

  12. Work on your house / garden - plan your next renovation to your house or garden and then do it.

  13. Clean your car - there's nothing worse than getting in a dirty car every morning. Make your commute slightly more pleasant and give it a clean.

  14. Make a playlist - make that morning commute a bit brighter with some fresh new tunes to go with your nice clean car.

  15. Plan and prep your meals - we plan our meals out at the weekend so we know exactly what to buy when we're shopping, and we've always got enough food in to eat. Cook in big batches and get some in the freezer for those days when you can't be bothered.

Finance


It's never a bad time to get your finances in order. There's usually something you can do to save money or make some more.

  1. Sort out your finances - go through your bank statements and add up what you're spending every month. Cancel any direct debits that you're no longer using to save some money.

  2. Renegotiate bills. Direct debits that auto-renew every year are buggers for putting the price up, because they know so many people don't dispute it. Give them a call and get a better deal. The AA breakdown service do it to me every year - they put the price up a few quid per month, but they're more than happy to reduce it again when I give them a call. Most companies have a retentions team that will do this for you if you tell them you're thinking of switching to another provider.

  3. Create a budget by setting a limit on how much you can spend on certain things every month (for example clothes, TV subscriptions, make-up etc.). Stick to your budget and put any saved money aside in your savings account, to go towards something special, like a nice holiday or a new car - or leave it as an emergency fund.

  4. Start a side-hustle - why not replace that TV time with something that earns you money instead. There are plenty of flexible jobs that you can do from home, whenever you get some spare time.

  5. Start a business - more than just a side-hustle - start something that you can grow into a full-sized business. Who knows - it might even replace your day-job one day. Check out this blog post for both side-hustle and business ideas.

  6. Upload your photos to a stock photo site - if you're good at photography and have some decent photos, upload them onto stock photo websites such as Shutterstock where people can purchase them for their own use.

Socialise


Socialising can be exhausting sometimes, especially if you're naturally an introvert, but lack of social contact can be bad for mental health. Socialising improves your confidence and general wellbeing. Obviously, during the COVID-19 pandemic, make sure you're following your local restrictions, and socialise virtually if you can't meet in person.

  1. Hang out with a friend that you've not seen in a while - it's easy to lose touch with people, but when they're gone, you will wish you'd have made more of an effort with them.

  2. Go and see your relatives - parents, grandparents, children. Family time is never a waste of time.

  3. Host a games night and get drunk with your mates, playing monopoly or some silly party games.

  4. Go on a date with your partner. Eat out, eat in - whichever - just make a point of it being a date. Eat at the table and talk to each other. Or instead of watching tv, you should watch a film at the cinema and grab some food while you're out.

 

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Personal Development


If you're completely happy with yourself - and I mean completely, there's literally nothing that can be improved, there's nothing that you can do to make your life better - then congratulations, you may skip this section. But I imagine the majority of us could make some improvements. I will never stop learning, because the more I learn, the more I grow and continue to improve my life.

  1. Read something - a book, a magazine, a newspaper - if you read instead of watching TV, it helps to sharpen your brain and slow down cognitive decline which naturally happens as you age. If people spent half the time reading something useful that they spent watching TV - they could be geniuses.

  2. Learn or improve a skill - it could be something business related, like public speaking or presenting, or something else useful like DIY or IT skills. All these things come in handy at some point in your life.

  3. Sign up for an online course - there are thousands of resources out there where you can learn for free. You can learn anything from photography, IT skills, coding, social skills, business, investment - the list is endless. Check out Udemy free courses or the Open University free courses.

  4. Learn a language - like reading, this also has many benefits, including improved brainpower, memory and academic performance in other areas. It opens more career choices for you, as well as allowing you to better understand foreign cultures. It's never been easier with the apps available today, such as Babbel and Duolingo.

  5. Listen to a podcast or audiobook - if you're not a fan of reading, then have the information read to you instead. There are tonnes of educational podcasts out there available for free. This has the added benefit that it can be done simultaneously with other things, such as chores, driving or exercise.

 

Related Post:

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Look after yourself


It's important - and it's something we often forget to do because there's usually something more urgent to do. Learn to make time for it, or your health may deteriorate.

Stock image showing 4 people doing the plank in a gym
  1. Go for a walk - I don't think I need to explain the benefits of regular exercise to you. If you find walking boring, why not stick some music on, or even better - a podcast or audiobook.

  2. Take an exercise class for increased motivation to get fit. This allows you to socialise and exercise at them same time, and the accountability provided by your instructor / peers with motivate you to stick to it regularly.

  3. Work out - if you don't fancy going out, do a workout at home. Body weight exercises can be done at home without any equipment.

  4. Meditate - meditation has a number of benefits including but not limited to: it reduces stress, reduces anxiety, helps to you practice awareness, helps you practice concentration and focus, and may change your perspective on life in general. In addition to these mental benefits, it can also help to improve sleep and lower blood pressure.

  5. Yoga - a form of exercise that has a number of benefits - in addition to improving general physical fitness, it can improve strength and flexibility and it can relieve back and joint pain (including those from arthritis). Many people find it relaxing and it can also reduce stress and improve sleep.

  6. Start a journal - getting your thoughts down on paper can be a form of therapy; if you write them down, then your mind can let them go, helping to clear your head and see things in a more logical way.

Give Back


One of the keys to fulfilment and happiness in your life, is to feel like you're contributing to society in some way. Life needs a purpose, and what better purpose is there than to serve others.

  1. Volunteer for a non-profit organisation. Call around your local charity shops, or visit the Do It website to look for volunteer positions.

  2. Help someone out - maybe a friend is moving house and they need help moving or decorating. Fetch some shopping for an elderly neighbour, or teach someone a skill that you have but they don't.

  3. Surprise your partner - buy them some flowers or another small gift. Show them that they're appreciated.

  4. Donate some of your possessions - instead of selling your clutter, why not take it to the charity shop where the money will go towards a worthy cause? Drop off your old clothes and shoes at a clothes bank, or take some food to the food bank.

Something fun


There are plenty of other fun things to do besides watching TV.

  1. Start a new hobby. Here are some interesting ideas: - Start collecting something (fossils, books, stones - anything you want) - Metal detecting - Urban exploring - Magnet fishing - Woodworking - Martial arts

  2. Go to a museum or place of interest - if you have a love of history, then visiting a local museum is a great activity to get you out of the house. There are hundreds of museums, National Trust and English Heritage sites to visit in the UK for an interesting and educational day out.

  3. Learn an instrument - take lessons, or figure it out yourself with the help of YouTube or a music learning app. You can pick up cheap, second-hand instruments at charity shops, or on eBay.

  4. Take some photos - go for a walk and take some cool photographs of nature, cars, people, cities - anything you want. If you have any that look good when you're done, you can upload them to a stock photo website (see Finance point 6).

  5. Bake something - make a cake for your grandparents or parents, or bake some cookies to take into work and share around the office.

  6. Create a Pinterest board - if you've never used Pinterest before, you need to check it out - it's great. I have boards for recipe ideas, house décor ideas, business/investing advice and more. If you have a hobby, create a Pinterest board for it so you can keep all of your ideas together in a nice visual format - it's very fun.

  7. Plan your dream holiday - there's nothing like planning an awesome holiday to motivate you to make some money for travelling. We spent months planning a road trip around the USA and it did not disappoint when it finally came around, but it was so fun and exciting just planning it all out.

 

Tip: create a Pinterest board to plan your holiday so you can save all of your ideas in one place. I made one that I shared with my partner, and whenever we saw a pin about a cool place we could visit on our trip, we saved it to the board.


Some pictures from our road trip:

 

Get Creative


Express yourself by doing something creative, which can lead to a sense of accomplishment and pride. Creativity can be practised through a number of different mediums.

  1. Start a blog - if you have a knack for writing, a blog can be a great way to express your ideas on a public platform. Done as a hobby, it can be a great way to communicate with people all around the world and share thoughts. If you build a big enough audience, your blog can be a valuable income generating asset.

  2. Write a novel - if you've got a great idea for a story, then get it down on paper. You never know, it might be a big hit one day. You can now publish your books for free using Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing.

  3. Make something - it could be something useful to you, something you can give to a friend or family member, or you may even want to sell it. If you can learn to make these things at scale, you could turn it into a business by selling them on Etsy or eBay. Here are some ideas: - Woodworking projects (furniture, classic board games, garden planters) - Jewellery - Hampers - Candles or wax melts - Art or wall décor (can be reproduced and sold as prints)

  4. Make a photo book - print out some nice photos and stick them in a blank scrapbook. Or you can use an app to create one - it will be printed in a nice book and shipped to your address. You can get photo prints and photo books for free on the Free Prints App.

 

I'm sure there are many more things that I've not included. Like I said earlier, you don't need to give up TV entirely. It's nice to watch something before bed, or while you eat your dinner - I get that - I still do and will continue do so.


But if you watch it a lot, maybe start by giving up one hour of TV per day and starting something new. Soon enough, the benefits will be evident and you'll be so glad that you did.


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