Have you ever binge watched a television show all weekend long? Or spent an entire day catching your favorite sports games?
Okay, I’m pretty sure we are all guilty of this at some point in life. There are days it feels good just to lie of the couch and be entertained by someone else for once.
Before kids, binge watching television shows was a weekend past time after a long week of teaching. Since there was nowhere else to be, I felt like I had all the time in the world.
My weekdays were filled with work, play, coffee, dining out and, you guessed it, television. In repeat.
Mr. A and I would follow our favorite shows, watch movies the week they debuted (what’s that like says the person who hasn’t been to a movie theater in 8 years) and keep up with our sports teams like their wins depended on our faith in them.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would cut the cable cord. Mr. A made the suggestion over 4 years ago now. I said no way. It wasn’t until we were at a dinner with friends and my friend’s husband was bragging about how much he saved each month by not having cable.
Now, it’s important to note that he wasn’t a sports fan. But, he got all of his TV through his PlayStation box (is this even a thing any more?). I thought, well if he can do it, we can give it a try.
So, we cancelled the cable and got an Amazon Fire Stick. I will admit it was one of the most startling things to turn on the television and the cable wasn’t there. But, we had small kids and no time. The cable wasn’t missed much.
After getting over the initial shock of cutting the cable cord, I started liking our new television free lifestyle. I no longer worried about whether we were getting our money’s worth when we wouldn’t watch tv for a week. Instead of turning on the television at night, Mr. A and I started reading and talking more.
I grew up in a television laden family. We always watched tv when we ate dinner and to this day my mom could watch television for 6 to 7 hours a day – straight.
Turns out this is normal. According to recent studies, adults spend an average of 6 hours a day watching videos. This includes television, online videos (such as YouTube), DVDs, game consoles and mobile websites.
Now, think about what we could do with our lives if we cut this number in half? I’m not saying getting rid of all television and video – but just reducing it.
Tim Ferris in his book A Four Hour Workweek was the first to propose such an idea. In his attempts to learn more and pursue his dream lifestyle, he cut out television (this was before the age of online video, but he probably would have cut all of that out too). He also learned to speed read and his learning propelled ten fold.
Many moms tell me how little time they have each day. Although I agree that time is limited when you have a family, I often wonder how many of these hours are sucked up in television and video watching.
When we cut the cable cord, I discovered all of this extra time in life. I dusted off hobbies that I’d forgotten about. Our family became less distracted and more active. Even my marriage got stronger because we now talk to each other more often. We can no longer use the television as a means to avoid conversation.
At first I chose to use all of this extra time on personal endeavors. Over time, though, I started focusing more on my business. I spent the extra hours learning, experimenting and creating product designs.
I discovered by cutting the cord, I was left with many more hours to dedicate to growing my stationery shop. Suddenly I had the missing hours in my day I’d spent so long looking for. Here are some other benefits that I discovered.
Pick up a Book
Reading… remember reading. The act of picking up a book and getting meaning from the words inside.
I find television and reading are always in battle. I remember as a kid trying to read my latest favorite novel while my mom watched tv. To this day I have trouble concentrating on enjoying a book with background noise.
One of the hobbies that I rediscovered after cutting the cable cord was my love for reading. And reading beyond just my favorite children’s books I read during story time.
I discovered that I loved devouring business books, personal development and historical fiction novels. So, instead of spending my evenings watching the latest reality tv show, I took a page – literally – from our forefathers and read instead.
If you decide to use your time to read more, keep a running Books to Read list in your journal or on your phone. One thing I used to teach my elementary school kids was that a good reader always knows what they’re going to read next. I always left out… Until real life gets in the way.
I find knowing what the next book will be keeps me on track to living a rich reading filled life. If I spend my days searching Pinterest, scanning the best read lists on Goodreads or simply staring into space waiting for an excellent option to fall from the sky – I don’t read. I usually turn on Netflix.
So, have an idea where you want to go next with your reading and head confidently in that direction.
Also, mix it up. Don’t always pick up the same type of book. If you mostly read chick lit, try a fantasy or historical fiction. Or switch to some non-fiction. An afternoon perusal in Barnes and Noble proves how many amazing stories are left to be uncovered.
Learn Business Skills
Since you now have time for reading, you’ll also find time to learn new skills. When we canceled our cable, I spent the first two years replacing the time with learning new skills through Skillshare.
I love learning, but hate the cost to take a college course. Skillshare offers the best of both worlds. A reasonable sign up price and hundreds of classes to meet your fancy. I learned about designing, art, business and social media marketing. All taught by experts from around the world and delivered to the comforts of my living room.
Another wonderful online learning site is Learning with Lynda. They actually group the courses together so you can take a full “course” load in a topic of interest.
You can also peruse Teachable for lots of individual course options to learn everything under the sun – especially about business. If you’re interested in improving the art used in your business, My Bluprint (formerly Craftsy) might have some options.
Improve Customer Service
Do you ever feel frazzled with running your business? There are so many things that I need to do each day to make sure that my shop runs smoothly.
The one thing that I always TRY to make time for is customer service. Unfortunately, I don’t always have the time to respond to all of the conversations and emails, answer questions and sincerely help people.
One thing to focus your extra time on is customer service. Now I am not an advocate for working on your business 24 hours a day. But if you have trouble finding time to communicate with customers, this might be the time.
I try to spend a few minutes every night checking conversations and responding to customer requests – even when I can’t complete them.
This time is well spent. The caring of potential and current customers is one of the most important things you can do for your business. It is a way to market your shop by standing out above the competition. So, keep at it. The time spent now will pay dividends as your business grows.
Write a Blog
A conversation came up recently in a Facebook Group that I follow. The question was do you need to have a blog to start an e-commerce business.
The short answer is no. You don’t really need a blog at the beginning.
My long answer, though, is yes – if you don’t have any money. A blog helps greatly with your SEO and if written correctly can become the community hub of your operations. The place where your audience hangs out. It’s one of my biggest secrets to getting your business off the ground. (Although it’s not really a secret any more, is it?)
If you’ve been using lack of time as an excuse for starting your business blog, cutting the cable cord will give you this time.
So use this extra time and start writing. It’s one of the most effective and cheapest kind of marketing there is.
One thing that I found less of after banishing television from our home is the feeling of being overwhelmed. As we started our journey to watching less and less television, I noticed how shell shocking I found our monthly cable bill.
I’d receive this bill at the end of each month for hundreds of dollars. Then, I’d calculate the actual amount of time we spent watching tv that month. It just didn’t add up.
Life is a lot calmer now that we don’t get a huge cable bill in the mail. It’s also quieter because we choose it to be. There isn’t the loud sounds from a constantly grinding television set. Things don’t feel harried at bedtime any more since I don’t have to rush the kids to bed to make it downstairs to watch “my show”.
I can even build in time for self care. A lot of moms say they don’t have any time to themselves. I get it. There always seems to be a million things to do even when we live in a modern day and age.
But, since I’m not spending my time watching tv, I do have time for an occasional relaxing night to myself (where sometimes I do choose my favorite Netflix show).
Time to Network
One area that I’m working on with my business is building my local community of entrepreneurs. There are lots of people out there that own businesses – you just have to take the time to know them.
Jenny Anderson recently wrote an amazing article about how our communities are shrinking. Although our social media accounts may show that we have hundreds of friends, the reality is that we are the loneliest we’ve ever been. The connections we make on social media are not the ones that we need to build a healthy life.
Have you noticed that Mediterranean diets seem all the rage these days. Although we are all jumping over to this new found way of eating in hopes to live longer, I think we are missing one crucial element. People.
One of the reasons that people who follow the Mediterranean diet live longer isn’t because of the food (although compared to our processed food diets, it’s a part of the equation).
Instead, it’s that they are socially connected. They see others they know when they go to the store, post office and town to run errands. They have conversations, invite others to share a meal together and live close to their families. Most importantly, these Mediterranean diet followers build strong communities that help lead them successfully into old age.
You can do the same if you can find the time. Cutting the cable cord has brought us outdoors more on summer evenings, gathered new friends around the dinner table and given us time together as a family.
I’ve also used the time to network for my business more. Although some of my business networking time is spent through Facebook groups, my goal this year is to network beyond social media. Networking on social media is easy to do when you have kids – you don’t have to leave the house.
But the true business relationships that you’re going to create, the ones that will provide advice, support and motivation – exist beyond the comfort of your home’s walls. So, use your extra time to participate in local networking events, find a co-working place to work (so you aren’t alone all day) and join local organizations that you’re passionate about.
You can never go wrong when you find your people.
More Well Rounded
It wasn’t until a few years into this motherhood thing that I realized I didn’t have any hobbies any more. Having spent all of my free time during my children’s infant and toddler years taking care of them, all of the hobbies that I used to have disappeared.
I really became a bore at get togethers. Listening to the parents of older children or even the ones who didn’t have children yet, I realized that all I had to talk about were my kids. Unfortunately, not everyone else wants to hear about the cute things they said that day.
So, I set out on a journey to become more well rounded and figure out the things that I like to do again. I rediscovered hobbies, found new things that I enjoyed and could share with my kids and became a better mom.
Finding things that I liked beyond family life also made me more well rounded. It boosted my confidence when I went to business networking events. I could talk about current events, the new local restaurant or recent show at the theater. It was great feeling a part of a bigger community.
All of these interests were possible because we had cut the cable cord. Suddenly, I wasn’t spending my days watching random shows that happen to be on. Instead, when I wanted to watch television, I immersed myself in Ted TV, listened to podcasts by my favorite bloggers or even found YouTube channels about business.
I took the time to get outside with my family more and explore hobbies that interested all of us. I loved finding these new challenges and they made me a much more interesting person.
Use the extra time that you aren’t watching television to find your passions and interests. Develop a new skill, read an interesting book or even see the newest movie. Choose things that you like and enjoy. You’ll be amazed how much more happier you are as a well rounded mom.
Ready to cut the cord? Here’s how.
When we decided to cancel our cable, I was a nervous wreck. It was as if I thought the world would stop. I’m happy to report that it didn’t.
Instead, canceling the cable made us get more creative with our entertainment choices. We started seeking out other means to watch television and see the things that we wanted. More importantly, we loved all of the free time. Now, I can’t imagine where television would even fit in our lives.
The first thing to do is call your cable company or television provider. Find out if you are in a contract or what the terms are for cancelling. For us, it was a 2 weeks notice. I also checked on how easy (or not) it was to sign back up. I wanted to have a back up plan if it didn’t work out.
Next, make a plan on what to do when the cable is shut off. These days you have lots of options for getting television without cable. Some of them include:
- Set up an Antenna – A television antenna will bring you all of your local channels plus a few extras. This was good during natural disasters, for local news and big sporting events like the Super Bowl.
- Buy an Amazon Firestick – Okay, I know there are lots of ways to access television (such as my mom hooking her laptop directly to the television and watching two screens at once). But, my Firestick is one of my best entertainment friends. You can watch all of the subscription channels through it – from Hallmark at Christmas to Netflix daily. The networks even offer some free programming. I also watch TedTV, YouTube and listen to podcasts for free. It’s AMAZING. You will need one for each of your TV sets if you watch programming in different rooms.
- Locate the Library – When we cancelled cable, one of my worries was that I wouldn’t be able to just “turn on the TV” if I needed the kids entertained while I made dinner. I hated using this device as a semi babysitter, but sometimes I needed a break to make dinner. For some programming, Netflix worked great. But, my kids missed Elmo. So, I found our local library and started checking out children’s DVDs – for free. I also discovered wonderful children’s programming – concerts, story hours, craft activities – that took place of some of our afternoon TV viewing times.
- Don’t have to Miss your Sports – One of my biggest hold outs to keep cable television were the sports channels. I love baseball and couldn’t imagine a season without it. Then, I discovered the MLB streaming. Suddenly, my world could still have sports and no cable. Do some research and find other ways to watch your favorite sports channels. Another favorite is we use big game days as a date night opportunity.
- Make a List of other Entertainment – There’s more to life than television. Yeah, right. I wasn’t so sure about that before we cancelled our cable, but it’s true. The key is to have a plan on where to look. I asked our local parenting Facebook group for ideas on things to do locally with kids. We discovered lots of free entertainment right in our neighborhood. Just don’t jump in unprepared. Create a list of things and places to explore before you cut the cable cord. It’s easier to plan for kids when you’re not scrambling.
- Invest the Savings Wisely – One thing you’ll notice quickly once you cut the cable cord is more money in your pocket. The savings added up quickly. The first few months, we invested this savings in diversifying our entertainment options. I purchased a few memberships to local museums and activity centers. I signed up for Skillshare so I could take business classes. We spent time scouring consignment sales to boost our DVD collection. We also used it for some family getaways. The extra money gave us a way to have more adventures as a family without spending more money. Eventually, though, we’ve put the money into our savings. This way we can spend it on things we really want down the road.
- Upgrade your Internet – Now that all of your television streaming is coming from the Internet, this might be the perfect time to upgrade your service. We went with a Boost vareity and get extremely fast Internet. This also helps my business run smoother – so it’s a win for everyone.
Although television can be great entertainment, like everything else in life, it is best in moderation. If you’re finding that you don’t have time to watch your cable television or want to spend your time doing other things, it might be time to cut the cable cord.
Cutting the cable cord might be the only way to give you sufficient time to work on growing your business each day. Especially when you have family and/or a job. By cutting the cable cord, you will free yourself up to spend more time managing your business, being creative and doing meaningful things with your family.
So, are you ready to give it a shot? Maybe next month will be your first one without cable. You’ll be amazed how it will transform your life and productivity. Here’s to cable free days ahead.