11. Create a list of one-hour evening projects. List everything you can possibly dream of: cleaning a particularly messy cupboard, organizing recipes, touching up the paint on your bedroom walls, sharpening kitchen knives, sorting through your sewing materials. Then create an old-fashioned job jar, and try to do one each evening.
12. Switch to games. With your spouse and/or children, relearn the fun of Scrabble, backgammon, or even chess. Get out the playing cards and have a hearts or gin rummy battle. Play Ping-Pong, pool, or darts in the basement. Go outside and practice your golf swing with practice balls. All of these are more fun, healthy, and life-affirming than sitting in front of the
13. Develop a fast-moving news routine. Most news shows are scheduled down to the minute. So investigate the handful of shows you watch and figure out when they run the features you are most interested in. For example, the local weather is on the Weather Network at eight after the hour; the recap of the day’s headlines on CNN at fifteen after; the sports scores on ESPN SportsCenter shortly after. Add it all together, and you have a total national news briefing in about 15 minutes. Sounds like the perfect evening television routine. Watch it when you get home, and then turn off the television for the rest of the night.
14. Say no to Jaws for the 15th time. Often we can be strangely drawn into watching things we’ve seen many times before. There’s something comforting in the repetition. Well, resist it. Watching the same James Bond movie or Trading Spaces episode again and again is unhealthy for your body and your brain.
15. Get outdoors every night. Make it a point to leave your home or apartment at least once after dinner, if only for a short walk around the block. Too many people consider their day pretty much done once they’ve eaten dinner, when in fact, evening can be a wonderful time for getting things done and having fun.
16. Change your TV-viewing chairs. Make them somewhat hard and upright — chairs you don’t want to lounge in for hours. Move your most comfy chairs to the living room, and use them for listening to music and reading.
17. Say no to pundits and celebrity talkfests. One way to cut down on television is to rule out certain types of shows. We suggest, start with any show in which you are watching a person talk. It is rare that a television interview or conversation is deeply insightful. Other categories to consider boycotting:
- Entire ball games. Why spend three hours watching a baseball or football game when the critical action can be captured in five minutes?
- Any show with a laugh track. How good can it be if it requires canned laughter to tell you a scene is funny?
- Shows filled with guns and violence. Who needs the mental baggage of all that killing and mayhem?
- Reality shows built on a cruel premise. If it torments the participants, or causes them ridicule, or extols values contrary to yours (like all the shows glorifying plastic surgery), then don’t watch.
What does that leave you with? Quality news coverage; good movies; shows you can learn from; shows that celebrate people and the good in life.