Halo 2 in the Living Room

We all have different schedules and commitments each day. Some of us are busier than others while others have more time on their hands. Many “successful” people, or those who tend to attract a lot of money, are often seen as busy because they supposedly have more (money-related) commitments to attend to. Well, I’m not here to judge whether that’s true or not… and, in fact, I’m starting to digress, so let’s move on.

What I actually want to talk about is time management, or more specifically, managing the time spent on daily entertainment. After all, we all want to relax at least a bit every day by watching TV, reading trashy novels, playing video games (my favorite), and so forth.

But if we don’t manage our time properly, we easily become consumed by all the entertainment that we have access to. The entertainment starts to control us, when it should be the other way around. And when we should be productive, we lose it because we fail to safeguard our schedules from unwanted shortcomings.

This is especially important for those individuals who have personal commitments in their daily schedules. An example of a personal commitment could be a project that you’re working on. Blogging is a personal commitment. Running your own online clothing store is one too. Weightlifting is an personal commitment. Activities that are initiated and, for the most part, done by you are what I call personal commitments.

So why is entertainment a threat to those of us who have personal commitments? You guessed right. TV and video games make us lazy. You can’t stay productive if your eyes are glued to your nice flat screen display. You need to free yourself from that kind of entertainment slavery (despite your being quite happy in that state).

Setting those pesky time limits

It’s hard to limit your pleasures, but when things need to get done, that’s what you have to do. You have to make a choice: either keep indulging and stay lazy, or control the “happy hours” and get your things done. (If you chose the latter option, keep reading.)

  1. First of all, I’d highly suggest that you start off by getting up earlier. You’ll be in better control of your time if you get up before others do, and before you have to go to work, school, et cetera. (More on getting up earlier.)
  2. Set a time limit for all activities. Have your day structured so that you can focus on entertainment at the end of the day—not the beginning or the middle. And if you have multiple things that you want to do, time them separately; exempli gratia, 1 hour for TV, 1.5 hours for reading comics, and 30 minutes for YouTube.
  3. Start with longer time limits. If you’re used to playing video games 6 hours a day, don’t go down 2 hours right away. It will probably just have the opposite effect on you.
  4. Gradually decrease the durations. When you get better at spending your time frugally, you won’t need as much time to finish doing what you’re doing. You also get used to time limits over time, which makes it easier to psychologically accept shorter time limits.
  5. Don’t procrastinate/multitask. But don’t kill the enjoyment. If you’re reading a newspaper, don’t try to watch TV simultaneously. Do one thing at a time. Don’t stress yourself.
  6. Obey the time limits. Or otherwise it won’t work. Create reasonable time limits that allow you to invest adequate time in your personal commitments.

These principles should primarily be applied to working days (Mon–Fri). Weekends are your days off, so you should focus on relaxing and getting your mind off work. But I still do recommend segmenting your activities so that you wouldn’t end up spending your weekends on the couch.