15 Productive Things You Can Do Instead of TV

Are you bored and looking for something productive to do instead of TV? Need some spare time ideas?

Watching TV has been and continues to be a favourite past time for many households. Let’s look at the statistics around this activity.

In 2017, the average US consumer spent 238 minutes daily watching TV. However, in the UK, the average is 19 hours of TV every week.

It appears that the older you get the more time is spent watching TV because the average American over 65 spends 4 hours and 20 minutes on average watching TV every day.

Here is a recent study by Neilsen and Statista that shows the average number for older adults is closer to 7 hours a day.

TV consumption by age group graph

If the average time spent watching TV by US adults is 4 hours and 27 minutes a day it works out at 1,869 minutes a week.

This equates to over 31 hours a week. Wait, that is a whole day and 7 hours spent watching TV every single week.

In this post, we will look at a few things, what could be harmful with this activity over the long term and what you can do to be more productive.

Disclosure: Please note that this post may contain affiliate links which means that if you buy one of my recommended products I get paid a commission for sharing the link at no additional cost to you.  I only recommend products that I have tried myself and have experienced success.

woman holding a coffee next to her phone and laptop

The Effects of TV on the Brain and Body

If the only challenge around watching TV was a matter of a loss of time alone then it would not be such a big problem.

However, according to a study conducted across 3,662 adults over 6 years, it was discovered that people who watch 3.5 hours of TV every day had a decline in verbal memory.

This decrease in verbal reasoning was as much as between 8 to 10 per cent according to Daisy Fancourt, PhD at University College London.

A study by Harvard Health found that prolonged TV viewing is associated with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and premature death.

Strangely enough, watching 20 hours or more of TV was found to reduce sperm count by close to 50% in males aged 18-22 in a different study by Harvard Public Health.

The most disturbing of all is the fact that too much TV also reduces the rate of colon cancer survival based on an article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Changing a Habit is Hard

You might be thinking at this point that it is so hard to give up on TV. The fact is that you are totally correct.

Firstly, watching TV has been classed as a hidden addiction according to a study and findings in the National Center for Biotechnology.

In fact, it goes on to talk about the prevention and treatment of this addiction. One such treatment is for individuals to keep a diary of time spent watching TV.

Other types of treatments include socialising in places where there’s no access to a TV. Also, developing non-TV hobbies is mentioned as being important.

A health psychology researcher, Phillippa Lally, and her team conducted research and discovered that it takes approximately 66 days to form a new habit.

Are you willing to switch off the TV for 3 months so that you can form a new healthy and productive habit?

If you are wondering what you can do instead of TV then let’s look at a list of possibilities.

Instead of TV Activities for Adults

As a parent, I learned a long time ago that in order to help children to give up unhealthy or bad habits it makes sense to replace them.

Instead of telling your child to stop drawing on the walls you sit with them and show them how drawing on paper is more fun.

The same concept applies to us as adults. The moment we stop doing one thing there is a need to fill that gap.

You may already have a list of things that you can do instead of TV. However, here are spare-time activities if you are stuck.

1. Baking + Cooking

You have always wanted to learn to bake cakes, cookies or extravagant casseroles but you never seem to have the time.

Instead of TV grab your favourite recipe book or hop on to YouTube and focus on finding specific recipes.

If using YouTube fuels your TV habits then stick to your favourite food blogger or even a recipe app on your tablet.

These two are also great non-tv activities for couples.

2. Science Experiments

A great spare-time activity, if you are scientifically inclined, is doing experiments. There are so many hobby shops selling kits that are suitable for adults.

Of course, you need to ensure that you don’t take these experiments so far as to blow up the house.

So, if you are looking for things to do with no tv or Internet this could be a good one as the instructions come in the box.

You can even get together with friends with similar interest and make it a competition or even start your own YouTube channel.

3. Learn to Play an Instrument

This one may not be the first thing that comes to mind but it is such a productive hobby. I have been to so many places where there is a need for a musician.

Is it me or is the world more interested in instantly listening to music rather than becoming a creator?

I never thought that I would have the ability to play the guitar but I have started learning thanks to my daughter.

Believe it or not, I also performed a piece for my neighbour this past weekend. Sorry, there are no photos or videos to prove it. ?

4. Start a Bullet Journal

This may not sound like a very productive idea at first but bullet journaling is something that has become quite popular over the last few years.

A big secret as to why you should start a bullet journal is that you can track your life as well as your goals.

Do you have any goals that you may have wanted to achieve over the last 3-5 years but you failed?

If the answer is yes then you need to also check out my resource on how to set and achieve goals.

5. Create a Bucketlist

One of my favourite things to do is make plans for the future and check those items off the list. This is a good substitute for watching TV.

Recently, I wrote about 50 things to do before 50 and I am already surprised about how much progress I have made.

Have you ever thought about making a realistic bucket list? Did you manage to achieve many things on your list?

Check out my crazy 50th birthday bucket list here for some inspiration and motivation.

6. Plan a Menu for 30 Days

You probably think that I have gone crazy but hear me out as I explain this idea. A great way to get more time in your life is through planning.

I am always trying to find ways to save time at home and one way I did it is by creating meal plans for long periods of time.

My supermarket has a list of items every week that is on special offer which is accessible online. I would plan meals based on those offers.

Purchased these items in bulk and make an extra batch and freeze it. The week that there offers are not attractive or you are stretched for time use food from the freezer.

This will save you so much time and you also save tons of cash because you don’t need to order a takeaway meal.

7. Volunteer in Your Neighbourhood

Do you know the people in your neighbourhood? In every community across the world, there are always groups of people.

In my neighbourhood, there is a local magazine to let you know what’s happening. They have support groups for the elderly.

There is also a group for separated and divorced people and one for hikers. If you are stuck just turn up at your local community centre to learn more.

So, if you are still wondering what to do instead of watching TV, think about how you can help your neighbourhood.

8. Improve a Skill

We all have talents that were developed as a child with some new ones that came into being as a teenager.

Recently I was speaking to a friend who is a nurse and she is also a talented artist. She told me that she is too busy doing her makeup to find time to draw.

This does require a bit of self-evaluation and emotional struggles. What are those talents that you can take to another level?

9. Start a Business

Have you ever dreamt of starting a business but you were too scared? Now is a good time to revisit that dream.

You are probably thinking that starting a business is too hard. It is possible that you don’t have $20,000 lying in a bank account somewhere.

Did you know that it is possible to get started in business with very small investment?

Check out my resource that shows you how to start a business with no money in a weekend here.

10. Plan Your Retirement

At what age will you retire? Maybe you are thinking that you are way too young to consider or plan for retirement.

Did you know that 87% of the elderly living in poverty are women? I found out about this in Kim Kiyosaki’s book, It’s Rising Time.

Kim goes on to say that many women refuse to get actively involved in their financial planning for the following reasons.

  1. They have little knowledge
  2. Find the topic confusing and overwhelming
  3. They have no time

Many years ago I decided that I did not want to be part of that statistic and I started educating myself financially.

You should do the same. It does sound and even look scary at first but it can be a lot of fun.

This definitely falls into the category of things to do with no TV.

11. Become a Creative

Two years ago if you asked me to create a graphic for something I would be totally stuck.

I am not an artist at all but I decided that I needed to learn if I wanted to be a marketer.

Fast forward two years and I have created images, ebooks, cheat sheets and checklists.

You may not think that it would be possible for you but trust me. It was not easy for me but it is so worth it.

My daughter is an artist and she always says, “Better takes time”.

12. Start a Blog

Have you ever wanted to become a writer or put those thoughts from your head on paper?

It has become so easy for anyone to start a blog because the Internet has levelled the playing field.

Although a blog can lead to a business it is a less scary way to get into business and it is a brilliant career for introverts.

Check out this free resource that walks you through starting a blog in 10 days or less.

13. Meet Old Friends

When was the last time you met with friends from high school, college or old jobs? Many of us are so busy that we have no time to socialise.

If you decide to start a bullet journal this could be one of your goals for the year. High School Reunions can be quite intimidating.

However, you can meet with friends for a snack or meal and avoid those high-pressure environments altogether.

The Meet-Up website also has so many groups with special interest that you can even meet new friends this way.

14. A New Group Sport

Another cool way to re-ignite those old relationships is by getting involved in a group sport like the following.

  1. Tennis
  2. Badminton
  3. Golf
  4. Canoeing
  5. Rowing

You will be ‘killing two birds with one stone’ (not literally I love birds). You will not only kick the TV habit but also improve your health and build strong friendships.

Remember that running, cycling, walking and hiking can also be done in groups of two or more.

15. Round the World Trip

Have you ever wanted to travel the world in 52 weeks? Any idea why you have not done it yet?

Many of us have these big dreams to do amazing things but we fail to execute these plans for one reason only. Lack of planning.

Planning is what makes things happen. Yes, travelling around the world cost money so start saving and mapping your route.

Stop using the kids as an excuse because as soon as they get big enough and move out you’ll find another reason why you can’t travel the world.

I was looking at the new and improved Skyscanner over the weekend and you can find flights at ridiculously low prices.

They have this new feature called ‘Mashup’ which is so cool. Now is a great time to start planning your dream trip.


You and I are given approximately 70 years of life on this earth. That equates to 3,640 weeks or 25,550 days.

If you watch 31 hours of TV every week from the age of 25 it would mean that your TV is stealing 2,340 days of your life.

In fact, 2,340 days is equal to 334 weeks or 28 months of your life. Are you really going to let 28 months of your life be dedicated to watching TV?

After all, we already spend 204,400 hours of our life in bed every night sleeping over a 70 year period.

It makes more sense to use the time you have left wisely to accomplish your purpose or develop meaningful friendships.

What is your favourite productive thing to do instead of TV?

hand holding TV remote


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Are you looking for more help to overcome your struggle with watching TV? Grab this resource that shows you how to stop watching TV in 30 days.

Do you need help to find the necessary motivation to get started on your new habit? Check out this resource that shows you how to get motivated here.

If you are just at the start of your journey where you are wondering what is possible for you in the future then take a look at these 7 books for bloggers.

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hand holding TV remote

28 thoughts on “15 Productive Things You Can Do Instead of TV”

  1. When I was growing up I never thought there will be a time when I would stop watching TV. But now, it’s been probably around 10 years since I did it. Watching TV is such a waste of time, and with my journalist background, I know how bias channels are to one political party or another.

    • Joanna, that is a very interesting perspective that I did not consider in this article. Thanks for your insight.

    • Tara, that sounds like something I did over 10 years ago. They will be glued to the TV and I would always be busy doing something else.

  2. All these are great ideas.Earlier I used to watch TV.But ,no much watching nowadays except News and some interesting documented.Anyway,I am going to read your bucket list for 50th Bday.Hope I can grab ideas and prepare a goal for me too… 🙂

    • Amila, my 50th birthday bucket list is crazy but I am sure that you will find something there to inspire you.

  3. Great list of alternative activities to watching TV. We enjoy spending our days outside and usually settle in the evenings to watch a show or while winding down from our day, but aside from that were not big TV watchers.. (well, minus the husband.. he loves TV)

  4. OMG this strikes through the heart! This is so me. LOL! It’s so easy to just waste around time on TV especially now that we have Netflix. But I try to control it a way — can be hard at times but yeah. This are very helpful tips.

  5. While I don’t think there is anything wrong with watching TV, it shouldn’t be your only form of entertainment or hobby. There is so much out there to do and see that you’ll miss out on a lot if you just sit on your couch.

  6. I no longer watch more than half hour most of the days. I spend my free time reading and bullet journaling. Thank you for this big list of suggestions.

  7. Will you believe if I tell u that I don’t watch tv at all? I watch movies on laptops sometimes and Netflix online is very rare. But yes these all are very good alternatives instead of watching TV. Unfortunately for me I hardly get anytime.

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