How much TV do you watch? How much internet do you surf?

That’s one of the first questions I ask people when they tell me that they don’t have enough time to practice self-care in their lives. We looked at what self-care is and isn’t last week, and yesterday I talked about a method of taking baby steps towards better self-care.

So let’s talk about adjusting just one distraction that seems to consume a lot of people’s lives. The TV. Now maybe watching TV is not the Achilles heel for you. Maybe it’s surfing the internet too many hours a day.

If we are honest with ourselves, we can probably all find something in our lives that takes up a considerable amount of time and energy that we could best direct it towards some other endeavor.

So for us to begin the journey of taking better care of ourselves, it might begin with some elimination and limit setting in other areas of our lives.


Start With the TV

For example, my wife Heather and I got rid of our cable TV about three years ago. Now we still had a TV, we just got rid of cable and local stations. It began by wanting to reduce expenses so we could pay off our debt, which we eventually did. And we didn’t like the habits in our family of just always turning the TV on when in the room. It literally sucked the life out of us. But we still like to watch shows and movies, so we bought a Roku. We love it. We have access to lots of shows and movies, but it’s not conducive for mindless viewing (at least in our case).

So by setting that one limit we began to immediately free up more time for ourselves and our family. And we began to not only care for ourselves and each other better, but we also began to pursue the things we were passionate about. For example, since we gave up “TV” three years ago:

  • We paid off $100,000 plus dollars in debt.
  • Heather was able to quit her job and fulfill a dream of staying home.
  • I wrote and published two books with Moody Publishers.
  • I launched a new therapy private practice.
  • We bought a new home.
  • We have connected to lots of great relationships.
  • Our faith in God has taken a more active role in our lives.
  • We’ve lived a healthier¬†and more active lifestyle.
  • It’s helped reduce anxiety and depression for me.
  • Etc.
  • Oh, and by the way, reduction in these areas has not only helped us identify our family mission statement, but actually have the time and energy to live it out.

Those are just a few things that have happened. Now I’m not saying all these things happened because we changed our TV habits…but what I am convinced about is that by not being consumed by TV lots of hours a day we freed ourselves up to become more focused, more healthy, and engage life and our passions in a new way.


What About the Internet?

So maybe TV isn’t your thing. How much time do you spend online visiting sites, browsing Facebook, or shopping. I would venture that most of us spend a considerable amount of time online. Even if we think we don’t spend too much, we usually spend more than we are willing to admit to ourselves. Even spending one hour less a day online could dramatically change everything. In that hour you could connect with your spouse in a real way. You could be more present and engaged with your children. You could become a better friend to someone. You could workout. You could prepare healthy meals for the week. Etc.

One of the things we practice in our family, and we still really struggle at is the implementation of the “tech basket.” The “tech basket” is simply some space that members of a family put their gadgets in at certain times of the day. For example, some families have a basket on the kitchen counter where everyone puts their cell phones, iPads, Kindles, laptops, etc. The “tech basket” is a boundary that is put in place to remind us of two things:

  • It reminds us that we are now home and we want to be present and engaged. So seeing a basket is a reminder to set aside our technology so that we can be fully-present.
  • It lets everyone know that our relationships with one another are the most important thing — because the “tech basket” reminds us of that as we see everyone’s items placed within it.

Each family needs to determine their own rules, but my wife and I strive for some things in our family life when we are using the “tech basket” properly. Everyone’s technology is put away when we begin dinner (so usually when I come home from work on most days) — and nothing is to be touched by my kids till the next morning. And nothing is to be touched by my wife or I until the kids are in bed and we have had time to connect. And even then we may not access the technology for the rest of the night. The rules provide limits, but we don’t treat them legalistically.

So let me challenge you today….experiment with your use of TV and the Internet.

What can you literally change today in these two areas in order to free up more time to care for yourselves and others?