When I was in secondary school, I used to watch many hours of TV shows each week. At one point or another, I was watching Gossip Girl, 90210, The Vampire Diaries, Greys Anatomy, Chuck, The Secret Circle, The Originals and Suits. And let’s not forget the various series I binged - One Tree Hill, Lost, Prison Break, Yu-Gi-Oh, Yu-Gi-Oh GX, and so many more that I can’t even remember.

At the time I thought this was the pinnacle of life’s pleasures. Getting home from school on a Friday night, a J2O in hand, sitting with horrendous posture at my non-ergonomic chair watching a TV show illegally downloaded from The Pirate Bay on my Acer 15 inch laptop. I was living the dream.

When I got to university though, this dream had to take a back seat as studying, socialising, sports and sleep began to compete for my time in a way they hadn’t before. I found myself watching fewer and fewer TV shows each week, and strangely, not really feeling like I’d missed out. I’d occasionally overhear a conversation in lectures and think ‘whoah they killed off Patrick Dempsey??’ Then I’d realise I didn’t care, because after Lexi died the series wasn’t worth watching anyway.

By the time 4th year rolled around, the only TV show I was really watching properly was Game of Thrones, and that mostly as a social activity with weekly screenings in my room with my friend Calum’s projector and pizza ordered from Zis Piri Piri.

I remember one day, my friend Katherine asked why I wasn’t watching any of the Netflix series she was recommending, and I came out with the smug comment:

I’m only allowed to watch TV if it’s with other people.

I’d never quite put it into words until she asked the question, but I realised that this was the ‘rule’ I’d been subconsciously following for a lot of my university years. I’d saw watching TV on my own as ‘a waste of time’ whereas when it was with other people, it would fall under the category of ‘social activity’ and therefore be inherently valuable.

This rule is one I still follow to this day. It would be so easy to get home from work, order some takeaway and collapse into a Netflix marathon. But because I’ve got this ‘rule’ that I’ve set for myself, I don’t have the option of doing that. Instead, I try to use that time to work on YouTube videos, or read a book, or practice piano/guitar, or (more recently) learn how to cook.

I get that this philosophy won’t be for everyone. If I mention it to friends, they often say “But I enjoy watching TV, what’s wrong with doing what you enjoy?”. And that’s fair enough. But personally, when I look back on my university years, I don’t have a shred of regret that I didn’t watch more TV. I’m so glad I used that time to work on my hobbies, crank out videos and build my passive income instead.

If you’re into this whole productivity / hustle / acting-in-service-to-your-future-self thing, you might find this ‘rule’ benefits your life far more than it takes away from it.


Enjoyed this post? If so, you might like to subscribe to the weekly email newsletter that I send out every Sunday. It usually contains a life lesson or two, along with some links to interesting articles, books and podcasts that I discover each week. Click here to check out the previous issues and maybe subscribe :)