7 things we learned giving up TV/Netflix during January

Fifi McGee

It's a bit late coming, this post, because I've just started a new job in Marketing at the Bluebird Tea Company (an amazing, independent tea mixology company who blend the most innovative delicious teas, that I feel so lucky to work for! ). I want to really settle back into full time work again and focus all my energy on this new, exciting career rather than my blog which has been refreshing but I've missed my little creative writing place. Balance will be restored soon no doubt and me and Neil will be back to photographing our trips and projects, sharing them here :)

Anyway, I wanted to drop in and chat about a personal project me and Neil tried together throughout January because it was one of the first times we really challenged ourselves to living completely different, shaking up our routine.

I think it was at the pub over a pint that this idea (like our best ideas!) was born. We got talking about how our generation would spend their evenings and spare time if TVs/Netflix/BBC iPlayer never existed and ended up realising just how much more time we'd have to do the things we love. We got so curious we decided to challenge ourselves to 1 month without any TV, Netflix, iPlayer etc and only watched Youtube if it was a "how to" or something educational. 

As the 1st February approached we jotted down what we learned through doing it and here's what happened. 

1. We got to know each other lots more

Even after 7 years of being together, it's amazing just how many stories we have in us that we never knew about each other. Having no TV during our evenings meant lots of time for chilling back having in depth conversation. 

2. I got through 3 books!

Prior to our TV ban I would struggle to read half a book in one month as I'd be too "busy" to commit and classed myself as a very "slow reader" so just never bothered.  Since I had more time in the evenings and on weekends to read during January, I found myself starting to love reading again, and became much better able to recall storylines between putting a book down and picking it back up again. I used to have to read whole chapters twice because my attention span was so poor. I'm loving reading so much now that I'm adamant in making it a big part of my life, and I've since started a book club with my besties to discover more titles (not an excuse for drinking wine, I promise)

3. Our attention spans grew 

We aren't sure whether this is because we spent more time reading, finishing chapter free from any distractions (like bright screens, pop ups and adverts) or whether it's a direct result of having no TV, but the combination of the two has seen us able to focus more intently and for a longer time frame than in the past. It's such a huge and fast improvement for me in particular as I'm quite a restless, "what's next!" kind of person. It's definitely helped us slow down. 

4. Our evenings felt longer

I don't know if you can relate to this but Neil and I have always had a very same-y routine. We would always come home from work, rush around to cook dinner then lounge around in front of the TV for the rest of the evening only shifting to go make ourselves some pudding, before it's bed again and work in the morning... The evenings used to pass us by in a flash doing this, as unproductive (but always very happy!) as we have been.  Since shaking up our usual nightly Netflix episodes, we've been taking the evenings much more slowly. One hour started to feel like two, and we've had a much more relaxed evening routine, practicing living a bit slower. 

5. We're now being more selective about our TV choices

Now that we're into February we've decided that rather than turning on the next suggested series on Netflix and giving any old show a go, we want to get excited and intentional about the TV we're consuming. We've realised we don't want to waste our precious time together watching films or series that we'd probably rate a 5/10 anyway. So we plan to make more of a "thing" about the episodes we watch, only watch what makes us excited, and reserve our TV nights for the Breaking Bads and Handmaid's Tale of the worlds... our two all time fave series ever!

6. We managed to plan our whole year in the spare time we had together

This was one of the most exciting ways we spent an evening having never done any proper life planning together that didn't involve kitchen sinks and tiles for the house! We drew up a holiday budget and a calendar for the year and mapped out exactly where we've always wanted to visit - hello Bali! - and when we could go. We have lots to look forward to together now, something we notoriously never felt in previous Januarys. On reflection we think this January was one of our happiest Januarys together and we're pretty sure it's because we made exciting plans like this. 

7. We did some really fun things in our free time

One night was scrabble and jenga night, another night I managed to get my art materials out of the loft and spent the whole evening harking back to my college years and did some charcoal drawing. On weekends we did garden planning for the Spring weather that's only around the corner, we cleared up the garden ready for new plants and veg, and we explored new playlists on Spotify, inviting friends over for pizza and games night and spending more time planning and dreaming. I felt like we made so many more memories not having the TV to fall back on as 'something to do'. I'm so glad we tried this. 

The only down side...

There was only one negative we came away with after one month with no TV or Netflix and that was our 'Monday night blues'. Monday nights are the scourge when it comes to productivity and energy to do anything else but sit in front of the TV excited for another episode of your current fave series to start. We struggled on Mondays the most because we used TV to wind down after work. It felt much more difficult to switch off without having something passive to watch and take our attention elsewhere. 

For that reason we've decided that in February (and the rest of the year), instead of going back to our old ways of watching TV every night, we'll make Mondays our movie night. Or series night, of course. This way we can carry on the happy, slow evenings we've been having and with the brighter nights coming in, I hope we'll be able to make even more of our time together. 

In all honesty, reflecting on the big pros of limiting intake of TV makes me not want to go back to the binge-watching ways we wasted our lives on. I actually feel every bit as excited about digging into my book than watching a series right now, so I'm really happy to limit TV for the foreseeable future and make more of our evenings. 

I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this, have you given up TV/Netflix before? Would you cope well? Are you thinking of trying it?

Thanks for reading!

Fi + Neil xx