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No Longer Wasted Time: On Being More Productive While Watching TV

No Longer Wasted Time: On Being More Productive While Watching TV

We all use a lot of time in front of screens. We watch or even follow different series and movies; Some are educational, while others not so much. I have struggled with the idea of the lost time while watching screens for quite some time. The time is spent sitting or slouching and not contributing to anything. Could we be more productive or healthy while watching TV?

There can be good elements to watching TV or other screens if you spend that time with your loved one, curled up in armpits of each other. But even that excuse doesn’t hold when compared to other options for quality bonding time, like taking a walk, cooking, reading, or spending time in the bedroom. Don’t ask about the reading, but there is something to it.

Supposing we are committed to spending time watching our favorite series, learning about the Cosmos or watching the latest nature documentaries; what to do while watching TV (or other screens) to make best of the time, minimizing the damage done?

Here are few of my favorite suggestions for things to do while watching tv


Do three circuits of the following

  • Maximum number of Squats
  • Maximum number of Push-ups
  • Maximum number of Lunges
  • Maximum number of Pull-ups (if pull-up bar available)
  • 10 Kettlebell Swings (if kettlebell available)

Rest between moves for 30 seconds and 90 seconds between circuits.

Do the routine few times a week, and you don’t need to go to the gym to get strong or burn fat.

The obvious idea is to walk on a treadmill or cycling on an indoor cycle if you have them at your house. I wouldn’t buy them for this purpose alone, though. Your idea isn’t to maximize the time in front of screens, but to use the necessary amount as wisely as possible.

Just stand. Standing still requires a surprising amount of strength. Standing will allow you to get bored quicker and move on to more productive activities.


The most important body parts that are tight for most can be addressed with following stretches:

Hip flexor Stretch video
Deep squat video
Foundation posterior chain video
Downward and upward dog video

Aim for 30-second stretches for each.

Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises can help with improving oxygen flow, enhancing athletic abilities, activating sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system (depending on the exercise) among other benefits. You can find more about breathing here.

Lymph breathing. Activating the lymph system to process waste products. Breathe at a ratio of inhaling 1, hold 4, exhale 2. For example, inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 16 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds. Do ten sets of the breath.
Box breathing. Activating the parasympathetic nervous system?? TK Breathe at a ratio of inhaling 1, holding 1, exhaling 1.

Breath hold training. Easiest with using an app specifically designed to challenge you in a controlled way. I use the Apnea Diver. You don’t have to be a freediver to benefit from breath holding training. The app helps expand lung capacity, which improves general aerobic performance. Don’t use more than every other day. The exercises depend on your maximum breath hold time.

Take a slow, mindful breath. Even a single conscious breath every time you become aware of yourself sitting on the couch (or standing) can be helpful to alleviate stress and bring joy to the current moment.


Use watching screens as a reminder for the healthy nutritional behaviors often neglected.

Drink water. Find a container that holds 1 liter. Fill the container when starting to watch. Your goal is to finish it before moving on to the next activity of your day, increasing your hydration and well-being. TK If you want more flavor to your water, you can squeeze the juice from a lemon or lime, slices of cucumber, or leaves of mint.

Make a green smoothie. Use entertainment as a cue to eat healthy, as opposed to the usual binging on potato chips and other undesirables. Green smoothies give you a lot of energy and satiety. Making a green smoothie will ensure you are getting enough greens.

Green smoothie
Use a handful of each

  • Spinach
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Juice of Lime
  • Salad leafs
  • Ginger


  • Stevia for sweetness
  • Mint leaves
  • Banana for smooth consistency


Clear your to-do list. Look through your to-do list and eliminate anything that is not either important or urgent. You can also use the entertainment time to chunk tasks to under different outcomes you want to accomplish. Define the high priority and low priority tasks to make it easier to use your list later.

Respond to email. Eliminate anything that is not either important or urgent. Use sites like emailga.me to make it fun and easy to use as little time as possible to nonessentials like email management.

Smile more. Your facial expression, as well as your posture, has been shown TK to affect how you feel and even different hormone levels in the body. You can tape the back of your neck to prevent your head from sliding forward, sit (if sitting) on a pillow under your butt to elevate and open your hips more, and keep a pen in your mouth to force your mouth into a smile. Whenever the sentence is too long it is wise to separate different parts with comma so that it is easier for the audience to follow through and get the true meaning easier)After 5 minutes, the changes are noticeable. Seems too simple, but it works. Try it.

Consciously define the needs and emotions of any character. The basis of nonviolent communication by TK is identifying the emotions and needs of others and communicating them. To be more competent at negotiation and communication situations, you can practice with such a low-stakes situation as watching a movie or series and doing it consciously.

Cook meals in advance. Use the entertainment time to prepare foods in advance. That way you don’t have to use time later for cooking. You can freeze part of the prepared foods and have handy cheap and easy meals to take with you to work or other places.

Those are a few of my favorite uses of entertainment time I use at times. You can try different ones on different days or even try to master one for a week and then move to the next. Have fun.


Stay well
Arttu Heinilä

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