After a long, crazy day working, running errands, ferrying kids to games and practices, and making dinner, it can feel sooo good to plop down on the couch, pick something on Netflix (or one of the other streaming services that’s giving me subscription fatigue) that’s entertaining and doesn’t require brain power, and totally zone out.
But at the end of the day, it’s not an activity I feel has a ton of merit. Being mindful of how I spend my time is something I try to apply to all aspects of my life, and it occurred to me recently: Am I ignoring that approach when it comes to my entertainment intake?
When you think about it, there are a lot of ways we mindlessly watch things, whether it’s binge-watching an entire season of The OA on your laptop in bed (OMG have you been watching it?!!?), having anxiety-inducing CNN on the TV in the background while you’re doing other things like cooking, or zombie-watching Instagram TV clips that just happened to show up in your feed because even tapping them away requires too much effort.
I love documentaries. I love good storytelling and filmmaking. And guys— I love me some Kardashians. So I’m not saying we should all rip our flat screens off the wall. What I am saying is I can totally do better about being more mindful of how I watch media, which will open up more time for things like face-to-face family time and creative pursuits. You too?
Here are a few little tweaks that work for me—from using the Caavo smart remote to making different programmatic choices.
This one’s pretty straightforward. I know, it’s tough when you’ve been waiting for what seems like eternity for your favorite show to come back and then 10 episodes drop at once. But binge-watching an entire season in a day means you’re spending way too much time in front of a screen. I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t feel at my best after five hours of Netflix. And in fact, while the science is in its early stages, there is some research that suggests binge-watching may have negative health effects. Remember when we had to wait a week for the next episode? Let’s go back there, and resist being manipulated by companies that (real talk) design binging to keep you hooked like drug dealers.
Streamline your Set-up
If you know me, you know I love tech that makes it easier for me to do just about anything, and the Caavo Control Center is just that. It’s a next-level universal remote that pulls together that small mountain of devices you have in your family room (Sonos soundbar, Sony TV, Nintendo console, Apple TV, cable box) into one easy experience. No need to fumble with multiple remotes. Just attach up to four devices to the Control Center, and it will do the rest: One place to search for anything you want to watch. You can also navigate with easy Google Home or Amazon Alexa voice commands (“Hey Google, Tell Caavo, to play Queer Eye Season Two on Netflix”) rather than typing on the on-screen keyboard. In the end, having your system set up to serve you will help you avoid frustration so you can mindfully enjoy your movie night instead of trying to dial up a new Marvel movie and ending ending up in a stress spiral.
Mind My Diet
More and more these days I”m making sure that I’m filling my “time plate” with a healthy balance of activities, making room for a little “junk” (TV) but prioritizing reading, research, and even creative endeavors like doodles and pottery and cooking for fun. I try to teach my kids that there’s a big difference in the merit of “active” screen time and “passive screen time”… so I’m trying to be better about following my own advice: Balancing sketching in a digital app, or writing my blog with more passive pass-times, like watching Instagram cooking demos.
Make Meaningful Choices
I’m not going to tell you to stop watching silly shows that make you happy. We all need them! But one thing I’ve been trying to do more often during TV time with my kids is to make more meaningful choices about what we’re going to watch together. One approach is to pick a show or a movie where learn something together, like a new documentary (even if it’s how NOT to defraud Silicon Valley investors or Millenial concertgoers). Another is to introduce them to old movies I loved when I was their age. Then you’re sharing an emotional connection with them… and they’ll also learn about what it was like to live in an age without iPhones and smart remotes that do everything for you.
This post was created in partnership with Caavo.