Add Time (and Money) to Your Life

Have you ever watched a full season of American Idol?

I have. More than one, I'm embarrassed to say. And I watched knowing full well what a huge waste of time it is.

A full American Idol season amounts to approximately 50 hours of television or 1 and 1/4 standard 40-hour work weeks.

If I used that time to become a better-rounded writer, it's hard to argue that I would not have experienced a substantial income boost.

Think about it …

At the rate of just one page per hour, you could have added 50 pages to your money-making website and be well on your way to building up a nice residual income for yourself.

If you read skill-building books instead of watching the tube, at 5 hours per book, you'd have read over ten books – and have that much more great information under your belt. Not to mention all the articles you could have written about those books which could instantly boost your income.

I also watched this past season of Survivor.

At 15 episodes (with the three-hour final), that translates into 18 hours.

And while I'm happy for Survivor winner Boston Rob, him winning a million dollars in no way has a positive impact on my financial situation.

Now, of course, there are some excellent informative shows on television. So used properly, the television can play a positive role when it comes to education and entertainment.

But it's real easy to fall into a rut.

According to Nielsen's Three Screen Report, the average American watches 153 hours of television every month – an average of about 5 hours a day.

That’s a lot of time – and potential revenue – wasted!

In the 1979 Supertramp song "Take the Long Way Home," there’s a line that has eerily haunted me through the years …

"When you look through the years and see what you could have been oh, what might have been, if you'd had more time."

Truth be told … you do have more time.

We all do.

But it means making some sacrifices … if you want to progress faster as a writer and make more money in your career.

There are many productive things you can do with your extra newfound time. You could write a money-making website, learn how to create a secondary income stream through information publishing, or learn the ins and outs of writing for the web.

With more time, there's no end to what you can accomplish in life.

Starting today, I'm going to limit myself to a maximum of 12 hours of television a week.

One day, I'd like to get that down to five or less.

Are you prepared to join me? Maybe you already have cut down on your television viewing substantially. Either way, drop me a line by posting a comment below.

A year from now, I'll let you know how I made out and what it has done for my writing career. And I’d like to hear your story too.

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Published: June 22, 2011

23 Responses to “Add Time (and Money) to Your Life”

  1. Good article, John. I've watched my share of reality TV, too (mostly Survivor and Amazing Race a few years back). My next plan is to get other people to watch ME or pay ME to do things, instead of me being a passive watcher/buyer! Turn the tables.

    Steve RollerJune 22, 2011 at 8:37 am

  2. Interestingly, I used to feel guilty about watching too much television. I even cut it out altogether for awhile. Now I'm in the process of breaking into writing for TV. So all those hours I've watched are proving to be great experience.

    Guest (Rebecca)June 22, 2011 at 9:49 am

  3. I have sat down to watch Idol and other TV shows, but woke up later to go to bed. I watch TV when my mind doesn't work. My worst time waster is games on the internet.

    Guest (Marlene )June 22, 2011 at 9:52 am

  4. Hi John - havign just started on my newly discovered path to becoming a copywriter I have NO time for TV, I´m happy to say. ;) Whatwith working my way through new programs, webinars, teleconferences and reading great articles like yours I´m "in up to my eyeballs"...and LOVING it! Thanks!

    Guest (JanM)June 22, 2011 at 10:08 am

  5. TV. A place to park our brains while we veg out. I try to limit myself to 2 hours a night, but more often it is 3 hours. It's so seductive after staying on track all day. Since I don't drink, do drugs or smoke...I figure, why not?

    Even so, I resolve to take one hour each day and spend it doing somthing other than TV watching - such as reading or doing some easy writing.

    Anyone else want to join in?

    We can report back to the group each month on what we have accomplished, read or written with that "extra time"

    SuzanneJune 22, 2011 at 10:20 am

  6. I agree with cutting back on television time, I made a decision to do that and it has changed my thinking a great deal because I now focus on what's important and improving my skills. I know I would give this writing career a try and succeed with it. Thank you for the encouragement and inspiration to take the necessary steps to make this happen for me.....

    pursuit-of-passionJune 22, 2011 at 10:26 am

  7. Good point. I don't watch much television these days, but I used to. And when I do sit down to watch, I'm always amazed at how easy it is to get sucked into watching much more than I planned. As a former TV watcher, I can attest that being aware of and changing this habit can have a dramatic effect on your life---for the better.

    Guest (Cindy Cyr)June 22, 2011 at 11:28 am

  8. I haven't had a TV for anything but videos since 1975. One of the best decisions I ever made. Now the big time suck is the internet. Even a 1 % increase in self discipline pays off huge over time. Thanks for the reminder!

    Guest (Richard Sleigh)June 22, 2011 at 11:33 am

  9. My husband and I have never been big TV watchers, but a couple months ago we decided to move our TV around . . . and never hooked it back up!

    We have been without TV for near three months and it's GREAT! We miss a couple shows, but we're glad for the extra time and we're about to cancel the satellite altogether to save money.

    We still deal with the internet distractions such as games and YouTube, but we're trimming those too.

    Don't let anyone make you think you can't live without TV. :)

    Guest (Lindsey Rainwater)June 22, 2011 at 11:35 am

  10. Hi John.

    After devoting far too many hours of my life to TV I dropped it cold turkey in 2005. After moving in with my fiancé a few years ago I finally convinced him to cancel cable last year to save money.

    I love it!

    But truth be told, there are still dozens of ways to waste time and if I don't shut down my email and social media I can lose hours every day.

    What keeps me going are those moments when I get into the flow and write great copy. Like this morning. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Vanessa LongJune 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm

  11. Ha! I couldn't resist commenting. This is the first year since season 4 that I missed Idol...and the reason is that I got serious about my writing in January, right when the season began. My work as a blogger and social media consultant for a medical practice, and several projects and referrals from "America's Top Copywriter" (wink) have kept me too busy for words. I barely caught the end of the finale! And I couldn't be happier!

    Tracey MinellaJune 22, 2011 at 4:09 pm

  12. Television is one-way communication. We aren't yet at the point of Fahrenheit 451 where we can star in a TV show with 3 wall screens, although you do see a lot of Bluetooth 'seashells'. 'They' haven't come for the books, either. Yet. Hopefully, we'll never see those dystopian days of Fahrenheit 451, but its' creator, Ray Bradbury, was a writer, a novelist, a futurist. The wave of the future is the web, where people read. Where there's readers, you need writers. What will YOU write?

    Guest (Bert)June 22, 2011 at 8:33 pm

  13. Television? What's that? (I watch a couple hours a week at most, maybe an occasional movie every week or two)

    But Internet news sites... now THAT can become a real time suck. Yeah I can call it "research" but more often than not it's just me wasting time being a news junkie.

    So, truth be told, there are lots of ways that we can waste our time. Many areas we can look at to improve our efficiency. We don't have to cut those areas 100%, but we can almost always make improvements.

    Thanks for the good advice John. :-)

    Steve CoombesJune 22, 2011 at 10:50 pm

  14. When I was a boy - about 15 years old - I realized what a huge waste TV was. I couldn't understand why people would make sports events, movies and weekly TV programs more important than their own lives. It just made me so irritated when someone had to drop what we were doing to see their favorite show. Sometimes I'd wait for hours for my parents to give ME some time. Dad loved all sports, while my mom couldn't miss the news. I really felt like they never listened to me. Think about it - how many hours does 40 years of not watching TV add up to? Think I've done a lot of things and read a lot of books? You bet! Unfortunately, in a way, I still have to make more time to write, because I've filled up all of my time with other things. As to my friends, and everyone else out there, who think that I'm full of hot air when I tell them a story - I take it all as compliments. After al, it's not my fault that they chose to live their life, vicariously, through the TV, sporting events, a

    Guest (Ron Ruzinsky)June 23, 2011 at 8:07 am

  15. I have been very aware the past few months of how much time I spend watching other people "live" through watching TV. That is why I no longer have cable at my house. That's right! No TV! I read more and ideas seem to flow easier without the background noise. Its the best decision I've made this year!

    Guest (Melissa A Cleveland)June 23, 2011 at 1:52 pm

  16. HI John,

    My suggestion to you is get and read AWAI's "The 7 Daily Habits of Successful Copywriters" then make a schedule that fits you, and stick to it. Once you start I’m sure your productivity will go up, and you’ll have time for your favorite television shows too.

    PatrickJune 24, 2011 at 9:39 am

  17. Now wait a minute! I have to get in my "Dancing With The Stars" fix when it airs each season! As a former dancer, I just love that show, and it's a good way to go though my inbox or organize my thoughts for the next day or week! TV is not important to me. I don't have enough hours in the day for all my AWAI content and TV, too!

    AliceJune 24, 2011 at 11:07 am

  18. Whoa. This article really spoke to me. Sometimes I feel like 8 year old Kevin in "Home Alone." TV is my life. All kidding aside, I am prepared to make the same commitment. 12 hours of TV a week. I'll let you know how that goes. Let's see, 5 hours of Dr.Phil a week leaves me how much? LOL Kitty

    Guest (Kitty)June 26, 2011 at 8:27 am

  19. Hey John, I'm with Jan and Cindy, I got rid of rabid TV watching years ago when I realized how unproductive it was. And, now that I am working on ramping up my copywriting business, I just don't watch much but a good movie now and then. Maybe 5 hrs max in a bad week! Great advice no doubt.

    Jerry BuresJune 26, 2011 at 9:23 pm

  20. I don't own a T.V.

    Guest (Toni)June 27, 2011 at 11:07 am

  21. I loved the article. Getting un-hooked from the television can be a challenge in itself. The favorites that I watched in past I now review the summaries provided online to keep up on what's going on. This takes only a few minutes of my time and can be done when I feel like it. This has given me several extra hours a week to pursue writing and other interests.

    DAKATAMAJuly 19, 2011 at 11:37 am

  22. I'm laid off and trying to start my own business. I've been listening to successful people both in person and via CD. One thing always mentioned is the need to read books, not just novels, but those that challenge and expand your horizons, and set your mind to thinking and creating.

    Is TV the antithesis of this?

    Guest (Chuck)January 6, 2012 at 8:10 am

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