Everyone has 24 hours in a day.
Bill Gates has 24 hours in his day. Mark Zuckerberg has 24 hours in his day. The guy taking your order at Taco Bell has 24 hours in his day.
You have 24 hours in your day.
Why is it that some people seem to be able to accomplish superhuman feats? They seem to be able to do so much more than others in the 24 hours given to them each day? What is their trick? What are they doing that the rest of us aren’t?
Sure we could blame it on the fact that the most productive people in the world are often wealthy and can hire people to do the mundane tasks that seem to plague our lives. We could also point out that because they are wealthy; they don’t have the same pressing burdens as the less fortunate. Maybe they are just plain smarter than everybody else. I of course would disagree with all of those points, but what do they do differently? More importantly, what do they do differently that we can do too?
Let me be clear, I’m not talking to you as someone who is an expert in this area. I’m learning daily how to make the most out of my time. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back, but I’m making progress.
There are a lot of books out there about how to improve yourself and make the most of your time; books like Rich Habits – The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. These two talk a lot about the habits of successful people. I highly recommend these books and there are a lot of habits in them I could talk about, but I’m going to focus on one very specific thing.
Last summer I tried an experiment with my time. I decided to take a month off of television. I did it partially just to see if I could, and partially because I had a lot of things to do and I needed to gain some focus in my life. It was hard. Apparently, I had established some bad habits with regards to TV.
Did you know?
- The average American youth spends over 1000 hours watching TV each year.
(For comparison, the average American youth spends 900 hours in school each year.)
- The average American will spend 9 years of their life watching TV.
- Children ages 2-11 watch an average of 24 hours of TV a week
- Teens ages 12-17 watch an average of 22 hours of TV a week.
- Young adults ages 18-24 watch on average 25 hours of TV a week.
I knew TV was a problem for other people, but I didn’t think that I watched too much television. For about an hour or so before bed each night I would turn on Netflix and watch something, on Friday and Saturday night I would sometimes watch a movie with my family, and on Sundays I would also turn on the TV in the afternoon while I laid around the house. I used television as a means by which I could disengage my brain and unplug from the world.
When I quit, I quit cold turkey. I didn’t try to limit my time watching TV, I just stopped. A lot of times I had avoid the living room altogether. It was just too tempting. The couch would call to me and the remote with its beautiful buttons would scream out to me, but I resisted.
After just one week though, the results were amazing. I found myself with way more time than I thought I could ever have. I read a book that first week. A real book, no pictures, and not one required for work. In fact, I read a couple books that month. I listened to a ton of podcasts and I got a lot of work done. It was hands done the most productive month I can ever remember having.
Instead of sitting down to watch TV I would read or write or just plain think. I spent more quality time with my family and had a blast doing it. It was wonderful. After the month was over I kept going. I didn’t consciously decide to keep avoiding TV, but I did. I was way too busy doing meaningful things to watch TV. I kept that up for another month.
After two months of not watching TV and being the most productive person I have ever been in my life, I started letting my guard down a little. I started allowing myself to sit on the couch more and more and every once in a while I would sit with the kids while they were watching a cartoon. I started watching movies again on the weekends, and eventually after another month I was back into my old TV habits completely. My productivity plummeted. I found myself less motivated to do anything and I was always strapped for time. So why did I go back? I don’t know.
Call to Action:
Since then I’ve made a lot of progress. I’ve limited my TV time and do not turn it on every day. I’ve noticed a direct correlation between the amount of TV I watch and my overall productivity. As a result, I’ve made it my resolution to watch less TV this year. Am I going to quit TV again? Probably not, at least not permanently. But I certainly will be limiting it this year.
Tom Corley shares some statistics about TV and success at RichHabitsInstitute.com
- 67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.
- 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.
As a high school student, you have already established some habits in your life, some good and some bad. Do yourself a favor and think about how much TV you watch. Figure out exactly how many hours a day you are watching TV and decide if some of that time could be better used elsewhere.
If you want what the successful have, you’ve got to do what the successful do. Let’s work on this one together.
Share your thoughts about TV and time management. What do you think is a good amount of TV to watch each day? What would you do if you didn’t have a TV for an extended period of time? I’d love to hear from you.