TV Turnoff Challenge: Day 30 (+1)

Well, this is awkward…

My 30 day challenge ended… and I missed it. HAH! I’d say that’s a success. Yes! I did it—I turned my TV off for 30 days. With an allowance of only one TV show per week, plus the occasional movie on the weekend with my fiancé, I was able to successfully keep it off for 30 full days. And here’s the kicker:

I have no desire to go back!

I miss watching my shows, but I love this lifestyle. I love waking up and challenging myself to find something to do. I love that my day is spent doing other things. Case in point: I am currently house sitting and had to bring extra bags to accommodate all the things I needed to fill my time: books and journals and binders and budgets.

In lieu of this being the “wrap-up” post for my challenge, here are some of the things I would love to comment on and recap:

Why did I start?
I was constantly left with the feeling—at the end of the night—that my day had just begun. I was also left with the feeling that my personal to-do list was lost in everything. My routine left little flexibility and I felt that, if that was how it was going to be, it better be for a good reason.

In addition to the things I needed to get done, there were activities I wanted to fill my time with and, simply put: I needed to find a way to create that additional time. I was reading Chip and Joanna Gaines’s book and they addressed why they didn’t watch TV or have a TV in their house. I initially (and judgmentally) assumed it was for a strange reason, but they were challenged to do it for 6 months in pre-marital counseling and never turned back.

What did it look like?

I am a big TV and movie person—both Nick and I are; it’s how we wind down. But I knew I needed to cut it out, because I knew cutting back wouldn’t work. I gave myself one TV show per week and the occasional movie on the weekend so I could relax with Nick; but most of my days were TV-less. I implemented an earlier schedule; so most days, I started work between 6 and 7. At lunch, I ate at the counter, followed by whatever spoke to me that day. I would straighten up around the house, play with the kitties, read, or rest my eyes for a bit towards the end. After work, I would likely cook, eat dinner at the counter with Nick, and spend my evening doing stuff for the wedding or the new house, reading, writing, taking a bath, or running errands.

How did it feel?

In the beginning, it was both horrible and eye-opening. Believe me when I say I had no idea how bad it really was. I said this in my previous posts, but I was aching to watch TV. I felt lost and depressed… all because I had to find something other than TV to occupy my free time. Then I realized how stupid that was and that made me feel worse! But then—and here is the point of it all—it suddenly stopped being so hard because it became normal. My routine stopped involving TV, so I stopped aching to watch it. Imagine that!

Granted, there were days where I really wanted to do nothing but sit and watch a good show, but I persevered. Those were the nights where I would meditate or take a bath—something that would allow me to turn my brain off, as so many of us seek to do after a long day. Then a different feeling began to take over: a sense of accomplishment. I felt good about it—proud of what I was doing.

What did I do instead?

  • Finished 3 books
    • To be straight, the first was about 1/4 of the way done when I started this challenge and I’ll be finishing the third tonight, but still.
  • Cooked dinner
    • Not every night, but most.
  • Ate more thoughtful meals
    • Here is a big one: at lunch time, I used to binge eat. Now, I sit down with my lunch—reasonably portioned—and I eat that until I am full. It’s amazing how much food I used to eat when I was distracted in front of the TV. When you force yourself to focus on just eating during meals, you get full faster because your body actually notices when it happens.
  • Practiced yoga at home
  • Meditated
  • Limited time on other devices
    • Plus I completely cut out my iPad halfway through
  • Ran errands
  • Cleaned
  • Did laundry
  • Played with my kitties
  • Wrote
  • Got a gym membership (!!!)
    • This is the most recent and one of the biggest accomplishments (more to come on this!)
  • Worked on wedding plans
  • Coordinated visits and trips
  • Went away for a weekend
  • Spent time with friends
  • TALKED hah
    • Nick and I stopped watching TV during dinner and now spend our time talking more in depth about our days.
  • Crafted
    • I have the wedding to thank for this, but I made bridesmaid proposal boxes, which took a very long time and an engagement gift for one of said bridesmaids as well.
  • Baths, baths, baths.
    • I learned just how much I love baths. This was by far the best way to turn my mind off after a long day and left me feeling relaxed after just 30 minutes or so (NOTE: that’s a lot less than the 4 hours of TV that only left me feeling like my night was gone *cough*).
  • Blogged! Yay!

The list goes on. Little things. Big things. All of which were great and all of which only scratched the surface.

Words of Pearly Wisdom:

  1. So many people I’ve spoken to say they turn the TV on so they can turn their minds off. I get it, but it’s crap. I know this because it was my hurdle and I got over it. Think back to the thousands of years before technology. They got by. So can you. Find other ways to turn your mind off and just give it a chance.
  2. Make time for the things that make you happy. I may be young, but I know that if I spend my life doing the things I enjoy, I’ll be a happier person for it. If there is even one thing you wish you could do every day that you don’t have time for, turn the TV off. Turn your phone off. Turn your devices OFF.
  3. Commit. If this is something you think you could benefit from (and you can), do it the way I did. Give yourself one show or a couple of movies on the weekends. But turn it off for the remainder of the week. If you only want to do one week, it will be eye opening, but if you want to make a change, do it for the 30 days.
  4. Watch the wonderful changes that come with this. This is the big one. By turning my TV off, I opened the door for other changes. I realized my additional technological dependence, which allowed me to back away. I noticed the dependency in others, which motived me further. I wanted to spend more of my time trying to get healthy, so I joined the gym. I’m in immense physical pain, but hey, progress! One positive change can pave the way for many.

Final Notes:

I’m so glad I decided to do this on a random Wednesday night one month ago. I will treat myself to an episode of Fixer Upper today, but beyond that and maybe a movie with Nick tonight, not much will change. It started as a challenge, but transformed into a lifestyle shift—one I don’t plan on reversing, much to Nick’s dismay, I’m sure.

So here’s the challenge now: where to go from here? I don’t want to cut myself off from TV all together. I love my shows. I love keeping up with the latest phenomenon. But I also don’t want to go back to the way things were. I need to let this evolve mindfully, but I don’t know what that will look like yet.

With that said, I hope y’all have enjoyed this journey with me and I encourage others to give this a shot and share your experiences! I will be doing a follow-up in a week or so to see what life looks like post-TV Turnoff Challenge!

Woo! I made it!!


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