Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Kill your television

Those who have been visiting this site for a while know that I've occasionally been having problems with motivation. The adjustment in going from working for others to working for myself has introduced a new range of challenges to my sense of self-discipline.

I've tried to meet these challenges through several means. I engaged a business coach to both advise me and monitor my progress. I started writing this blog to increase the pressure on myself to keep the project moving forward. And lastly I tried to remove all potential distractions from my work environment.

The biggest distraction would had to have been the television. It's hypnotic glow and inane droning soundtrack consumed hours of my time each day and gave me almost nothing of worth in return. I didn't actually own a TV set but instead had a TV card inside my PC. This was probably worse than having a separate TV set. I could have the TV showing in a small window in the bottom right of my screen and kid myself that I was working at the same time.

My saving grace was that I moved into a flat that didn't have TV reception. It wasn't bad reception, it was no reception at all. The connection to the building aerial appeared to be broken somewhere, or perhaps was never connected. I reported it to the landlord who of course did absolutely nothing. I tried to make do with a cheap set top antenna but I spent more time adjusting it than I did watching the TV.

I was about to get on the landlord's case again about the aerial when I realised that I really wasn't missing TV all that much. I hadn't had decent reception in about 3 months and adjusting the set top antenna had just become too much of a chore to even bother for all but the best programs. So I didn't bother with hassling the landlord and after I managed to accidentally break the set top antenna, I decided not to spend the $12 to replace it.

So now I have no television reception at all. I have a video and a DVD player and I occasionally rent a movie but I never did find out if the Starship Voyager made it back to Earth, or if the President on 24 survived being poisoned. Up until this moment though I didn't really care. Now I'm curious, can someone please tell me? Don't say too much, I might buy the DVDs one day.

So what's it like not having a television at all?

Surprisingly it's fine actually. As long as you can find something else to occupy your time you really don't miss it. I used to watch far too much TV and though I hated that fact I would never have thought I could go without it cold turkey.

It's not all good though. You can't keep asking people to record things for you so you do miss out on quite a few good programs. You also occasionally miss out on participating in conversations about TV. When that happens I just make a joke with the person how I'm the biggest luddite in IT and that I spend the evenings listening to my wireless (that's wireless as in radio, not 802.11x).

There's been some other changes that I didn't really expect. There have been some horrific news stories of late and somehow when you're not being bombarded by violent imagery every night (both real and fictional) the stories you hear on radio or read in the paper seem to affect you much more strongly. Perhaps it's because you're not as desensitized towards violence as you once were, maybe it's because you have to create the image in your mind yourself. Whatever it is, after the news of the last few days, it's certainly been a mixed blessing.

But I like watching TV, do I really have to give it up?

I don't think so. If circumstances hadn't dictated my current situation I probably wouldn't have stopped watching TV completely either.

My backup plan, if I had managed to acquire decent TV reception again, was to stop watching live television and instead record everything and watch it the next day. That would have worked quite well also I think. You wouldn't bother setting the video for anything but the best programs and you could fast forward through all the commercials. From what I understand TIVO recorders are good for this too but they aren't commonly available here in Australia.

So has giving up TV worked for you?

On the whole yes it has. It hasn't been a magic bullet, I can still find plenty of ways to procrastinate, but the biggest and easiest source of procrastination has been eliminated from my day. As to whether I'll start watching TV again when I've made my fortune I'm not sure. I probably will but I don't think I'll ever become such a slave to the idiot box again.


At 11:07 PM, Blogger Daren Thomas said...

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At 11:07 PM, Blogger Daren Thomas said...

I grew up addicted to tv. Now, I don't even own one. Allthough I can remember being bored half of my childhood, I am never bored now. I don't zap channels. I don't switch it on and go "oh no! there's nothing interesting on!" if fact: I doubt I'd have the time to watch television _and_ do all the fun stuff I do in the real world!

But I do rent DVDs I watch on my laptop and I do go to the cinema... I get to choose the movies I really want to watch, _when_ I want to watch them :)

Besides: TV was junk anyways!

Apropos news: I found I had to quit reading the newspaper too, since all they talk about is who got killed (how, where, pics of the corps included) and other horrible stories I just don't need to know. I have found ways to stay informed on important (political, social, demographic) issues and move on with life.

All this junk in tv and the newspapers clutter up your mind. They make you unhappy. They make you less productive. They make you want more! But seriously: Who really wants to be addicted to all those horrible stories?

At 11:19 PM, Blogger Lachlan said...

I understand what you're saying about horrific news stories but I think it's still important to read and listen to them.

I hope it never happens but one day you or I may be the subject of one of those horrific news stories. In those circumstances I'm sure we'd want other people to take an interest in our plight.

Thanks for your comments Daren. They're much appreciated.

At 6:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a simple advise from a person who has moved form an office to working at home 2 years ago.

Simply remocing TV or any other distraciton won't really help in self-motivation. To make it really work the only thing you need to do is to work according to a plan. Working in office forces the working hours on you, but working at home does not.

So, you only need to decide your on your working hours and work just like you work in the office. Don't allow any one to call you anywhere (because you are working!), don't watch TV.

But after your working day is over do whatever you want - watch TV, go out with friends. Sticking with the plan may be quite hard at first, but then you should get used to it (and others around you would too).

You don't have to limit yourself in entertainment, just leave only evening/weekends for it, don't allow yourself to do anything not work related during working hours.


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