How to Overcome a TV Addiction in 10 Steps, A Personal Journey

Hello, my name is Sydney and I have a TV addiction.  There I said it!  I have been debating whether or not to come out with this confession for a while now, and finally decided – yes I need to come out in the open for my own good!  And as part of my recovery process I want to help you overcome your TV addition too!

Step 1 – Identify why you are addicted.

I’ve loved TV my whole life and look forward to watching shows all the time.  I’m a homebody so it’s relatively cheap and fun entertainment.  Can you tell I don’t get out much?  I need to work on that!  I also wanted to be an actor growing up and I think that’s also a part of why I love watching so many shows and movies.

Step 2 – Count the number of TV shows and DVDs you watch each week.  If it is more than 7 (1 show a day) you are an addict!

Looking at the upcoming Fall schedule, there are 20 returning shows in my programming schedule and 5 new shows I want to watch.  That gets me to 25 TV shows plus an additional 2-3 DVD movies a week.  WOW I definitely have a TV addiction.

Step 3 – Next, total up the number of HOURS you watch a week.  Did you know Americans watch 34 hours of TV a week on average?  That adds up to almost 74 DAYS a year.

The TV shows in my list add up to about 33 hours and the DVDs are roughly 5 hours, so that’s approximately 38 hours a week.  Sheeeesh that’s SO bad.  I am SO going to put those hours to better use!

Step 4 – Come up with a weekly target.  If you’re as addicted as me, take your weekly total and divide it in half.

Ok so my goal is 19 hours, which is still a lot of TV per week and manageable.  I’m gonna make it happen!

Step 5 – Analyze your TV addiction by dividing the shows into 6 categories.  Educational, Action, Drama & Sitcom, Reality, Sports, Movies & DVDs.

This is how my 38 hours a week breaks down.  I sure do like a lot of Action shows!

Educational: 2 Foreign Language Shows, Passport to Europe, Samantha Brown: Latin America, Local news (~ 6 hours)

Action: Vampire Diaries, V, Fringe, NCIS: Los Angeles, Nikita, Bones, The Event, Hawaii Five-O, No Ordinary Family, Make It or Break It, Parenthood, Terra Nova, The Secret Circle, Grimm, Unforgettable  (~15 hours, 4 new shows)

Drama & Sitcom: Glee, Desperate Housewives, Seinfeld reruns, How I Met Your Mother, Up All Night (~ 5 hours, 1 new show)

Reality: America’s Next Top Model, So You Think You Can Dance, Undercover Boss, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Secret Millionaire (~ 7 hours)

Sports: n/a  :)

Movies & DVDs: 2-3 movies a week (~ 5 hours)

Step 6 – Identify the shows you want to cut and DELETE them from your scheduled recordings. You can do it!

OK I’ve got my list down to 19 hours!  These are the shows I’m cutting out:  Local news, 1 Foreign Language show, Make It or Break It, Parenthood, Hawaii Five-O, Unforgettable, Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother, Up All Night, America’s Next Top Model, So You Think You Can Dance, Undercover Boss, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Secret Millionaire, 1 movie

And if any of the 3 new shows bomb (Terra Nova, The Secret Circle, and Grimm) I’m going to those out too along with any returning shows that lose steam.  I only want to watch shows that I really enjoy and drop the rest.

Step 7 – Discipline yourself to only watch the shows in your list.  Don’t channel surf.

I think I can manage this.  I’m not a channel flipper, I just have to reduce the amount of shows in my recording schedule.

Step 8 –.Multitask when you do watch your shows and movies.

I love to multitask, but I need to be smarter about what I’m trying to multitask.  I’ve learned that reading and writing emails and articles requires too much concentration to effectively multitask with the TV on.

What does work well with the tube on is folding laundry, ironing, sorting through paperwork, paying bills, washing dishes, stretching, and doing sit-ups.

Step 9 – Have at least one TV free day each week.

I’m picking Wednesday.  It’ll be a good way to break up the week and help me keep my agenda items on track before the weekend.

Step 10 – Avoid watching TV during the day.  Get outside, exercise, run errands, meet up with friends, work on some agenda items.

I’ve been getting better about this on the weekends.  I love to go hiking, go out to eat, pick up books at the library, and catch up on errands.

UPDATE 10/26/2014: Since I wrote this post, I’ve cut my TV hours per week all the way down to only 6-8 hours a week and sometimes even less than that!  It feels so good having more free time to be active and productive instead of glued to the tube.  I still enjoy watching shows and movies, but now I do so in moderation.  I hope you can overcome your TV addiction now too!

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Hi there, I’m Sydney! After ten crazy years, I left a grueling six-figure job in 2015 for a better life. Now I spend my days writing, freelancing in various capacities, and finding new ways to stretch my brain. I’m crazy about photography, traveling the world, and stopping to smell the roses. Untemplater is where I share my insights and adventures with the world. I hope to never stop learning and being able to give back - every day is a gift! My love of helping people improve their lifestyles, careers, wealth and happiness constantly motivate me to write and evolve. Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you in the comments below!

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  1. says

    I used to be a tv addict! Before I regulary watched Lost, 24, Prison Break, American idol to name some. Now I watch just the beginning of Ameican Idol and skip the boring middle rounds. Actually imskipped most of it last season except for the auditions.

    One of my problems was just having it on. When I would be at home, I’d turn it on even if I wasn’t watching it. Or I’d channel surf till I found something remotely interested. Wasted a lot of time.

    Now the only show I watch regularly is Entourage. I love Modern Family but inhale about six episodes I still haven’t watched!

    Now one thing will consume a lot of my time starting in a month and that’s football season! I know you don’t watch any sports but I need my football. I need my news and updates. I think I’ll still be okay to get stuff done cause most football is on the weekends.

    As for the new shows? I would normally be excited but even last season I wanted to start watching Hawaii Five O but never got around to it.

    So I’d say I was a former addict but have cut back drastically so I can get stuff done!!

    • Sydney says

      You haven’t missed much with hawaii 50. I only started watching it to get to see more of Hawaii since they actually do film there. The acting doesn’t compare at all to 24 which I watched nonstop on DVD. Lost was a really fun show too and I enjoyed having debates with my colleagues abot what we thought was going to happen next!

  2. says

    My wife and I didn’t have a tv for the first 2+ years of our marriage (just over 3 now). We purchased one on Cyber Monday last year and use it to keep up with a few shows. Even without a tv we managed to watch a few favorites online occasionally.

    Fortunately for us, we’re not huge tv watchers. During the school year we’re generally too busy with school and work to get much tv time. It is the summer vacation that gets us. We let the shows back up and watch them in chunks. Since we can watch them on netflix or just wait and get them when they come out on DVD, we don’t have to worry about commercials. We only agree on a couple of shows, and we only watch shows together, so we’re rather limited in our choices.

    How did we manage those first 2+ years? We filled our time with other activities: talking to each other, going out for walks, reading, playing games, etc. Even now, we don’t have cable or satellite, only netflix (which we’ve discussed canceling a number of times. Once school starts back up we probably will do so). By limiting yourself, you will quickly find other activities to fill in the time.

    • Sydney says

      Only watching shows you both like together is a really clever idea! Thanks for sharing that! And you make a good point about only watching shows once they’re out on DVD – definitely a better viewing experience not having to hit fast forward every few minutes. Just means you have to avoid reading and overhearing people talking about the current seasons or it spoils the fun. :)

  3. says

    Sydney, you’ve definitely got an addiction! But hey, at least you recognize it!

    10 more hours a week, and 520 more hours a year of doing something more productive will allow you to do anything you want!

    I love TV too though, especially Lost, 24, and other good shows. Good shows are worth it!


    • Sydney says

      Yes, coming out with my addiction is the first step to beating it! TV shows have become so much more entertaining in the last few years because special effects are better and more “affordable” for the networks to use. Lost and 24 were so much fun to watch! Although I was a bit disappointed with the ending of Lost.

  4. says

    I have a nice flat screen with no cable. I don’t really watch any tv at all. My only interests are WWE and UFC. I watch the UFC ppvs with friends when we go out. I try to catch Raw on Monday nights.

    I find tv to be an absolute waste of time. I would much rather go out and create my own stories than to follow the life of others on a program.

    • Raj says

      I agree with your last sentence. I also wonder why do we watch whats happening in the life fictitious characters. When we know that its just a story and whatever the writer wanted or thought will happen.

      Why can’t we amuse ourselves with our own life.

      Instead of watching others make love or be romantic, why can we do it our-self. Instead of watching others play a game why can’t we play our-self.

      It is OK to watch programs with cooking, money management or other kinds of tips that helps groom ourselves.

      • says

        Yeah when I finally realized this it made it much easier to step away from watching so many shows. Educational programs are helpful, however I’ve found that reading articles can be a lot faster and more efficient.

        • Stephanie says

          posted August 1913 was the most recent one I could find. I’d like to find somebody who’s currently posting, so they would be back-and-forth communication. I live with MS and I can’t type, I use voice recognition software but it makes a lot of mistakes… I watch Law and order whenever it’s on, which is a lot, many hours most days. I have lots of excuses to watch TV so much I tell myself is not much more I can do, I’m looking to volunteer for the MS Society and reading all this stuff about TV addiction has been very helpful. I still haven’t brought myself to tell other people about my TV addiction, although I’m sure there will be no surprise in that! Thank you… Stephanie

          • says

            Volunteering with the MS Society sounds like a fantastic idea! I bet you can inspire and help a lot of people that way. Best of luck and hang in there!

  5. Hunter @ Financially Consumed says

    Welcome Sydney…ha! Great presentation. I could potentially watch a lot more TV, but our home renovation has cut us back to 1 TV, the kids outnumber me. I like the idea of finding awesome ways to fill your time. I think TV wins too often by default.

  6. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter says

    I am so glad you have been honest with yourself and admitted you have a problem. That is the first step to rectifying the problem. I also thank you for sharing your story because there are a ton more people like you who have the same problem and I think your tips will help them too. I must admit we don’t watch much tv, at least in the summer so I can’t relate directly.

    • Sydney says

      Thanks Miss T! Coming out publicly has given me so much more motivation to fix my addiction vs when I was just thinking about it in my head. I do hope this post will help people hooked to the tube because life is too short to spend the equivalent of 70 some days a year stuck to the couch.

  7. says

    Love your step-by-step approach Sydney!

    We just quit cold turkey with the intention of signing up again if we felt we couldn’t live without TV!

    It was weird for a few days, but with Netflix and a two year old, don’t miss TV much!

    • Sydney says

      That’s awesome moneycone! Saves a lot of money too cuz cable gets so expensive! Good to know the cold turkey method works too!!

  8. youngandthrifty says

    I like your easy baby steps- it’s very objective and practical. Good luck- will you give us an update on how this goes?

    I love how I met your mother, that’s pretty much the only show i watch. Maybe storage wars and HGTV’s House Hunters too LOL.

    • Sydney says

      Thanks! How I Met Your Mother is a funny one although I still find it weird hearing Bob Saget narrating as the older Ted Mosby. It started turning that show on in the kitchen while making and eating dinner earlier this year, but have let it go as part of my cut back plan. I’ll definitely publish an update in a month or two on my progress. 😉 I’m doing good so far. I met up with friends tonight after work so I’ve already had two nights in a row with no TV this week, woohoo!

  9. says

    i’m here after reading benny (getbusyliving)’s latest blog…my reason for watching them is to wind down…also sad but i’m admitting for years now since getting divorced and being a single mom i use these shows to think it’s not so bad to have a life. and living here in minnesnowta summertime is great yet… i like summer because not so many shows on but i still have my detective/action shows in the off season :) my goal is to have 2-3 nights/times a week where i watch the shows online (that’s what i do after my daughter goes to sleep) and the rest for decluttering/writing/art :) to get busy living! thanks for your post!

    • Sydney says

      I totally get what you’re saying about watching TV to wind down. Even though it’s still looking at a screen, I like watching TV to get a break from my computer/work, and just relax. :) Sounds like you have a nice balance between your TV unwind time and get busy living time!

  10. CB says

    I think you can shave a few more hours off your 50% TV time goal.
    By using a recording device like TiVo (even the old VCR will do the job!) to pre record all your shows, you can zoom through all the advert’s taking another 15% off your watching time.
    Having done this for a while I have found you get further reductions by, deleting shows you have only part watched but aren’t really enjoying, fast forwarding to the end when you don’t feel like watching the lot….and for sports fans you can always look up the score so you don’t need to watch the ball by ball action.
    By making these changes I’d be surprised if you didn’t get to below 10 hours!


    • Sydney says

      Thanks for your comment CB. I already use a DVR and it’s great for fast forwarding. My TV hours have dropped a lot in the last several weeks and I think coming out and admitting I had an addiction made a huge difference! I don’t feel the need to watch TV anymore, and have filled up the bulk of the hours I used to spend in front of the tube being active instead and it’s helped lower my stress because I’m getting more done.

    • Sydney says

      I used to try to multitask watching TV a lot until I realized I was always 95% watching TV and only 5% using my computer. What’s your ratio? :)

  11. Ellie says

    I think I actually might have an addiction. Its got to the stage where all I look forward to is watching another show. I don’t make an effort to go out, see friends, work, I would rather stay in and watch another episode of being erica than hang with my friends…I can’t motivate myself to do any work (I am a student) and anything I do do I reward myself with another episode. I waste so much time, whole days far too frequently just sitting watching the lives of fictional characters, and now I don’t have one of my own. I feel completely worthless and rubbish and self absorbed, but I’m too lazy to stop. I’m hooked…I’ve tried to limit myself to one show a day, but as soon as I watch one, I binge for like 3 hours (or more).

    • Sydney says

      TV is entertaining, no doubt about it and coming to grips with your TV habit is part of the first step to overcoming your addiction! Isolating yourself too much isn’t healthy and no one wants to look back on the last few months or even years and realize all they did in their spare time was watch TV. You’ll feel a lot better if you set at least 1 goal a day and accomplish it before turning on the TV. Try getting some work done in the library or at a cafe, or meeting a friend or classmate for dinner before heading home. That way you’ll get a few things off your to do list or get in some socializing without a tempting TV in reaching distance. :)

    • eaten says

      Well I don’t think you are self absorbed if you were you wouldn’t be watching TV so you can take that of your list. I want to get rid of TV too but sometimes staying in seems safer then going out and getting hurt by real people and their personalities people can be pretty mean watching a show helps to forget about them.

  12. JKC says

    Sydney, Wonderful ideas. Well it works if I am addicted, but what if my in laws are addicted and my kids are not yet. They are too young, but they may easily turn to stupid drama serials. I really don’t want that to happen! I am working woman, could you guide me how to save my kids from tv?

    • Sydney says

      Keep your kids as active as possible! Sign them up for sports teams or activities after school or at a community center. A little TV now and then is fine but kids really need to run around and play outside and have fun with other children. Organize play dates with some of the other moms at you kids school. Reading is another great outlet too and many libraries have free programs for kids.

  13. Kris says

    Great article. I recognize a lot of this in myself. Ellie, your post above sounds very familiar – we are definitely in the same boat. I always sit down to watch one episode, but then can’t bear turning it off, and then the next thing I know it’s four hours later. When an episode of my favorite show is over, I feel a huge let down to go back to my normal activities. I can’t motivate to do any chores or projects when I know I can just turn the TV on and familiar characters will be there. Sometimes it feels numbing or like an escape from a boring or lonely existence. I’ve already tried to limit it by only watching shows I like online- so I have to actually select which shows I want. There is no channel surfing. But, there are enough decent shows online, that I can watch 4 hours per day sometimes and take up my whole evening. Ellie, be strong – I’m thinking about you!

    • Sydney says

      Thanks Kris. I totally understand what you’re going through. Since it’s hard right now for you to stop after one episode, I suggest limiting the days you let yourself turn on the TV or log on to the websites that you use to view shows. Plan an activity on that day to keep yourself occupied and doing something fun so you aren’t thinking about watching shows. Go through the steps above a little at a time and you’ll start to see a difference and feeling less attached to watching so much at once. Good luck!

  14. Lance says

    Great article Sydney. I recently realized I am a TV addict and I am going to do something about it after reading this article. I am an extremely capable 34 year old man and I realized I was a TV addict about a month ago. TV has been such a “norm” in my life that it never even occurred to me I had a problem. I have always been “bigger” than the obstacles I’ve come across in my life and overcoming addictions have always been rather easy for me because of the way I structure my thoughts about the addiction to overcome the addiction. My attempt to overcome my TV addiction the past month was just that, only an attempt and not a success. The life that has passed me by while I watched TV and way to many sporting events now seems a bit nauseating. TV has now proved to be a formidable opponent, challenging every fiber of my body to resist it.

    Some examples of the obstacles I easily overcame that proved very difficult for others were drinking coffee, soda, biting my nails, eating healthy and not putting food in my body that doesn’t benefit me in nutritionally. I decided I wanted to start exercising about ten years ago and still go to the gym at least 3 times a week. I have a 3 & 4 year old at home, no problem, I run on the treadmill 45 min. a night between 9-10pm just to fit it into my schedule (when I’m at the gym I’m often thinking about what I’m going to watch on TV when I get home though). On that note, I’m often thinking about what is coming on TV and get way more excited to watch those shows than spending time with my beautiful family. SOOO SAD!

    My favorite author Wayne Dyer has said that watching TV and sleeping more than your body needs is really nothing more than not knowing what to do with your life. He suggests that I live “on purpose” and my desire to watch TV will shift to spending that time living with purpose.

    I must overcome this feeling that I’m going to miss out on life and entertainment. I’m committed and I’m ready to give this another go. Good luck to everyone out there (probably millions and growing exponentially) attempting to leave the TV behind and live a life that is on purpose.

    • Sydney says

      Hi Lance! I’m so glad you are ready to make a change and work to overcome your TV addiction! I totally understand the excitement you feel when thinking about what shows to watch. And a little of that is OK, but watching so much that you don’t spend time interacting with your family isn’t healthy and will be something you’ll only end up regretting as more and more time passes. Think about some of your best memories – I bet you have a lot of great memories of times you spent with your family and not so many great memories about TV episodes!

      Time goes by way too fast when we veg out in front of the TV. I found that cutting out channel surfing saved me tons of hours per week and shrinking my list of viewing hours down to only a few shows that I really liked made a big difference. And as soon as a show starts getting boring (which happens a lot with the way shows are produced these days) I remove it from my dvr recording schedule right away so I’m not even tempted to watch it.

      Nice job with your exercise routine and overcoming your other obstacles. I know you can overcome your TV addition too! Good luck!

  15. Rhino says

    thank you very much for sharing these… sydney, do you have any book whom you could give me as my references because i am making a thesis right now of the effects of television to the study habits of grades IV-VI pupils and i know these might be of help… thank you very much and i am waiting for your answer this week…

    • Sydney says

      Sorry I don’t have any book suggestions as all of these tips are from my own experience. Good luck with your thesis.

  16. DEE says

    Anyone have tips or reasons why a healthy 67 man would workout at the gym at 5:00 am to 9:00 am then watch tv from 11:00am to 7:00 pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Hes on depression meds, was’nt like this three years ago. Moved in with me a energetic 55 year old, happy, healthy,pleasant person…. and he completely changed overnight. Kind of creepy like he was hiding this other side of himself. Tried all the usuall techniques, but leaving him which currently is not an option. I feel like I am in a nursing home. Any ideas or input? Canceling cable is not an option he pays for it. Thanks

    • Sydney says

      Hi Dee. Thanks for your comment. Sounds like he does things in big extremes. If he’s really at the gym for 4 hours every day, no wonder he’s on the couch the rest of the day. Most people are wiped out of energy after 1 hour of working out, so I imagine after 4 hours he’s completely drained of energy and doesn’t want to do anything. At least he’s getting in daily exercise, which is better than being just on the couch all day long. Perhaps he can adjust his work out routine so it’s not all at once in a huge block.

      If he’s on depression meds there’s probably something bigger going on than just a TV addiction too. Perhaps he misses the interaction he used to have when he was in an office/work environment and getting him involved with a club or volunteer organization could help him find more balance. You should have a talk with him and see how he feels and come up with some activities you both find interesting that you can do together to get him out of the house. If you feel trapped you may also want to talk to a counselor for some support and guidance. Hang in there and good luck!

  17. allison says

    I appreciate all of the articles about TV addiction that are out there, but most of them don’t address online TV watching – which is where I do ALL of my TV watching.

    • Sydney says

      A lot of the tips still apply but there are some differences if you’re hooked on online streaming. If you’re currently paying for a service like Hulu Plus, I’d recommend cancelling your subscription. Not only will you save money, you won’t have unlimited streaming anymore, so you won’t be able to watch as much. A lot of the main networks offer their shows online for free, so you can still enjoy a few of your favorite shows. But having to browse to each network’s site separately will make you less likely to watch as many shows because it’s less convenient than logging into one site like Hulu.

      To kick your online TV show addiction, you have to make it more difficult for yourself. There are several web browser add ons that can help you limit the time you spend surfing which can really help such as Time Tracker, Leechblock, and StayFocused. These type of tools are a good way to track how much time you spend surfing the web and watching TV shows online, and set limits for yourself. You could also take a step further and block certain sites in your browser settings so you can’t access them!

      Hope this helps and best of luck Allison!

    • moreau says

      Yeah me too. and that’s the problem. everything I like is available…and sometimes you discover a tv show at their 3rd ou 4th season and catch up so far that it is truely shamefull. Never actually tried to stop, but I’m starting to realize how much of a waste it is!…and yeah the “self rewarding” part of it is dangerous.

  18. Jack says

    This sounds like good steps to recovery from many tv show addictions…. I am mostly addicted to staying up late at night and channel surfing and I am addicted to mostly the premium network shows. I started to get addicted to Weeds because I never watched it and the 8 seasons were all there to watch …. I need to stop it NOW because I loose sleep and I feel tense at work the next morning and it affects my concentration!! I was just given my final warning at work before I am fired…. HELP!!!

    • says

      Oh no! If you got a final warning at work that means they’re serious. In this case you need to quit cold turkey. I’d suggest canceling your access to the premium channels too.

      It sounds like you’re very sleep deprived right now. Keeping your job and getting more sleep should be your top priority!!! Weeds is an ok show but it’s NOT worth watching a minute more if it’s putting your health and your job at stake. You have the will power Jack, don’t give up!

      • jack says

        Thank you for your motivating words… My life does not make much sense after my divorce, and maybe I resort to TV as a pathetic coping mechanism when I should rreally find a support group or something to let my feelings out….

        • says

          Sorry to hear about your split. Going through a divorce is a big change. I watched my parents go through a divorce and it took both of them time to adjust and heal. Things do get better though!! Finding a support group sounds like a great idea. I find writing helps a lot too with clearing my head and facing my emotions so I can recover and move forward. Hang in there!

  19. Jack says

    Thanks… I guess maybe I just need to find some resources for moving on after 9 years of marriage…in terms of not spiraling down depression highway. I exercise regularly, but I just feel anxious a lot…all the things I used to enjoy doing are becoming seemingly long and arduous tasks…and what better way to ignore everything than to flip the switch and get my eye-straining fix from an 55 inch flat panel??!! Uhhh!!! I hate myself so much!!!

    • Jack says

      What an unbelievably karmic BS life I have…. The exact moment I was typing the above message I got an advertising email from Dell selling a 55″ HDTV for $649.99. Normally I wouldn’t give it a second look but I think the big man up above is testing me resolve…..right?

      • says

        Oh man, yeah that does sound like a test of will power! Keep your chin up and you’ll be able to turn things around for yourself. One step at a time!

  20. Melissa says

    Wow….glad I found this post & thread. I’m currently at the point of desperation with my TV addiction, also. And like Jack, I recently went through a split up and have wondered if that has something to do with it. I’m also procrastinating my college work to the point of missing deadlines. (I watch tv or youtube videos while time passes so fast I get started much later than I originally intended to).
    I’m to the point where I need serious help. I believe in self help…but someone who’s dealt with the same issue and has overcome it is making me hopeful.
    I watch as much if not more hours than you originally posted. I also have gotten to where I stay up too late watching to where it causes me to be late for work occasionally. I have alot of anxiety/dread/procrastination, also. I have to literally DRAG myself out of my apartment (even to my own child’s sports events!) to go somewhere other than work. I stopped dating altogether about a year ago after “the split up” and about a year 1/2 before that I divorced from a 13 year marriage (we have a good relationship,’s just a BIG change). I’m very independent, very self-driven and positive (normally) so I’m struggling getting past this horrible period of ICK! I’m printed these tips/steps to overcoming the addiction, and the posts to this thread, to read tonight in hopes it will get me CHARGED!
    Wish me luck…I’ll try to come report my updates.
    Thanks for the post!! Like another poster said, above, you’re not alone!

    :) Melissa

    • says

      Sorry to hear that Melissa. Going through relationship troubles definitely makes it hard to snap out of a TV addiction. I think you’ve already taken a big step forward by recognizing that you need help. I hope you get a chance to talk to a therapist about some of the bigger issues that are going on in your heart and mind right now. Best of luck with your journey and I know you can snap out of your funk!

  21. Axl says

    I regularly attend other addiction meetings and have realized that tv is much more difficult for me to give up. I had to hit rock bottom on the other things, but once that happened, stopping was easy. The problem I see with tv is that hitting rock bottom may not happen until you are in your 90s and realize you spent most of your life watching tv when you could have been doing something productive. Some of the most frequent regrets I see in anonymous groups is all the time wasted in life.

    Another basic precept of addiction is that the addict tries all different methods to cut down on the addiction rather than giving it up. Have you been successful in keeping your numbers down? I have regularly tried all different ways to cut down on my tv watching, but always end up in veg out mode after a period of time.
    I think I have to go cold turkey.

    This morning I was so sure I would not watch tv tonight, but then after I did my routine of coming home from work, eating dinner, putting kids to bed…all I can think to do is turn on the tv.

    This is my problem, and obviously, I have an addictive personality. I decided I need to openly admit my problem to someone else so I can work on this, and also to point out that moderation is probably not feasible in a true addict.

    FYI, the first step in twelve step programs is admitting you are powerless over the addiction. That seems funny to say about tv, but I think the proof is in the amount of time in life that could be spent doing something productive.

    • says

      Hi Axl. Thanks for your long comment! Yes wasted time is a regret that nobody wants to live with or look back on. I’ve been doing much better with my numbers. The less and less I watch TV, the more fun I’m having in life and the less I want to watch shows. You might have luck going cold turkey. What I also suggest is finding something else that interests you to replace the “veg” time. Great job coming forward and talking about your addiction. Hang in there and don’t give up!

  22. Harris says

    Hey, I just started my first year university, and I am a really bad addict! i dont have my own tv, but I am always on my laptop watching tv shows online, I am so addicted that even when I eat I watch tv shows on my phone, and its not like i watch all the tv shows at once, I just finished all the series or supernatural, and modern family from the beginning, and now I just started watching dexter, I finshed 5 seasons in 5 days!!!! I really need help, I am always in my room watching tv, and not going out, and more importantly not doing my school work!!! Its been 2 weeks since college started, and I am already behind, I have literlly not done any school work in the 2 weeks, and I really need help changing that cause if i dont i will be kicked out of university, and I will do something really dangerous. Please help me!!! i really need it! everyday I say to myself no tv today, but I just cant help not go on website, and watch tv all day long!!! please help me!!!

    • says

      Starting your first year of college brings on a lot of changes. Suddenly you have a lot of freedom without parents around to check on you. And you have to build an entirely new group of friends. It can be hard to open up in a new environment, but you have to give yourself a chance and get out of your dorm room. I’m glad you recognize already that you have a TV addiction. Two weeks into classes isn’t not too far in that you can’t pull yourself out of your slump. I suggest you try to join a club. Pick a few things that interest you and go out and attend some club meetings. Once you start meeting more people, you’ll find a better balance.

      Also, get out of your dorm room to study. Go to the library and find a quiet place where you can concentrate with no TVs around to tempt you. You just have to do it. Think about how much money your tuition costs and the importance of building a foundation for your future – don’t waste it. You have to want to change yourself. Nobody else can make you change. Pull the plug out of the outlet and shutdown your wifi!

    • says

      One step at a time Lucie! Recognizing you have an addiction is the first step. Make small changes each day and you’ll get more time away from the TV and more hours of your life back!

  23. says

    I am a serious TV addict. I could probably give you a run for your money on your numbers… I’m sure I’m up there too. I am going to print out your step-by-step guide. I am actively searching for advice and support on what to do because I know I have a problem, but I’m just scared. It may seem silly to others but giving up TV cold turkey seems drastic and unsettling and I don’t think I am strong enough especially since I also suffer from depression- my bed and TV are both my friend and crutch.

    • says

      Hi Anika. Thanks for sharing! Change can totally feel scary and overwhelming. You don’t have to quit cold turkey – that’s probably too extreme for you right now. I suggest you find new ways to get more active in you day to day life and use those activities to replace some of the hours you’re spending watching TV. Every little bit counts. Best of luck and try to think positive!

  24. Lisa says

    I just want to say Thank You! I was looking for help in how to fight my tv addiction. You give clear steps on how to try and do it on your own. I decided to start off with a week of no tv(except for news for weather/traffic info). I’m currently on day 3. So far I’ve done ok. I’m definitely missing the TV but it’s not that bad! I’ve found several other things to fill my time with. I’ve already gone through my dvr que and cut out many shows and am coming up with some ground rules for my tv watching. I don’t think I’ll ever get down to as few of shows as you did but I’m gonna try! I don’t want to be a couch potato anymore! Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Lisa! I’m glad the post helped you! Cutting down DVR recordings helps a lot! It definitely worked for me because it made it harder for me to find and see something I wanted to watch. I hope things are still going well in your journey away from TV!

  25. charles post says

    TV is not a wasteland for me. There are excellent programs on the History channel that bring history to life. Public TV is often quite rewarding with interesting speakers, music, and special events. Generally, local TV provides general news and weather that is informative. There are some religious programs I enjoy. I agree there are many mindless, deadening programs that have no redeeming value so I am selective especially with regards to National news programs which are total propaganda, opinionated in favor of their agenda, and very misleading, dangerously so.

    • says

      Yeah it’s pretty incredible how many different channels and programs there are these days. The choices are endless. I actually get too overwhelmed trying to flip through channels so I don’t do that at all anymore unless I’m a hotel and am bored.

  26. says

    I watch 3 hours a day with my wife. (I am semi-retired and work at home.) We watch 1 hour in the mid afternoon (1-2 or so). We watch 2 hours in the evening (7-9). She goes to bed at 9; me at 9:30 or 10:00.

    We do that 7 days a week. All the shows are either DVR (about 5 week) or older (especially BBC or Australian) mystery shows (recently found Sarangoon Road – awesome).

    I count those 21 hours as half entertainment and half communication with my wife. Since we started this policy (years ago, actually) our marriage has been happier.

    • says

      that’s nice that you guys like and watch the same shows. It’s cheap entertainment that you get to enjoy together, and 3 hours a day isn’t bad considering you are semi-retired.

      I agree that watching TV with someone is more fun and having limits and similar interests in genres can add happiness to a relationship!

  27. Steven says

    I’m 66 years old and turned off the television over fifteen years ago. Want to know how to make it stick? Disconnect the cable, dish or antenna and throw away all advertising related to television services.

    Why did we do this? We are a childless couple so it was easy to make a quick meal and watch the news over TV trays, then a program or two that became favorites. But I found myself shouting at the news programs and realized we were scheduling ourselves for an hour of total rage every day. We unplugged the beast in 1998, cancelled our cable contract and signed up for Netflix.

    We do watch one or two movies on the weekends, but often not. We began, after a few years, to discover that we didn’t get much of current humor and were totally ignorant after some years of much of popular culture. There is considerable freedom in that.

    Really, it wasn’t that hard.

    • says

      That’s a good point about getting rid of TV related advertisements. I’ve definitely been sucked into watching more shows because of commercials and ads on new shows.

      I completely stopped watching the news about 7 years ago because it was too upsetting. There was always too much negative news coverage that just left me feeling scared, upset, or angry.

      I like Netflix as well because there’s no pressure to watch things by a certain time or stress of worrying if the DVR is too full. I also like how Netflix streaming doesn’t have a ton of things I want to watch either so it’s easy to watch a little and then stop.

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