As I hung the final picture frame in my room, I realized I was finally finished and officially moved into my new apartment. The plates were put away in the kitchen cabinets, my clothes were hanging in the closet, all the furniture was positioned just right and there were no more boxes to be unpacked. So I sat down on my couch to relax and take in the moment. I kicked up my feet, and then it hit me: I didn’t have cable or internet. Somewhere in the stressful undertaking of moving, I had forgotten to schedule an appointment to have service installed.
What am I going to do now? I thought. Without cable, I couldn’t turn on the TV and veg out for the rest of the night. And without internet, I couldn’t even watch my shows on Netflix. So I called a friend to meet up at a local bar, knowing that if I stayed home, complete and utter boredom would set in. I had something to do for now, but I knew drinking couldn’t be my go-to source of entertainment.
As my time without cable or internet—the things I once considered living essentials—goes on, I realize I actually really enjoy not having the digital connection, and I’m finding ways to be more productive with my time. Here are five of them:
1. I’m reading more.
I used to try to read before bed, but I’d quickly slip into slumber after only a couple pages. Now, rather than binge-watching episodes or mindlessly flipping through channels on TV, I’ve found myself filling my free time with books, hours at a time. And that means I’ll finally be able to make a dent in that long list of books I’ve been saying I want to read.
2. I’m organizing more.
Whether it’s out of boredom or from having more free time, I’ve begun organizing and planning ahead. On Sundays, I’ll draw the blueprints for my week:
- I plan my outfits, which makes my mornings run more smoothly because I don’t have to stand in my closet, wasting time figuring out what to wear, and I get out the door faster. Thursday is chinos and a gray sweater. Tomorrow is jeans and a blue sweater.
- I’m also planning my meals. This works threefold: Not only am I saving time, I’m saving money and eating healthier, too.
3. I’m getting cultured.
I recently downloaded the Duolingo app on my phone. With the app, you can learn more than 20 languages at your own pace, all from your phone. You choose a daily goal—five minutes of lessons per day or more—and try to keep up a daily streak. I’m brushing up on my French, one of my favorite classes in high school, and I’m shooting for 20 minutes a day.
4. I’m working out more.
As a runner, I already exercise an adequate amount, but I’m finding ways to be healthier and fit in more workouts with my newfound spare time. I’ll go on run in the morning and then play volleyball or take a yoga class in the evening. And as we all know, not only is exercise good for your body, but it does wonders for your mind, too. The extra activity is keeping my stress levels low and my endorphins high.
5. I’m learning more.
Even though I was enjoying my hiatus from cable, I did want to watch the local news, so I hooked up an old TV antenna and ended up watching a PBS special about World War II. It’s something I wouldn’t have watched if I had cable, but I found it pretty fascinating. And hopefully the things I learned will come in handy at my weekly trivia night.
I still believe in the power of doing nothing, because some days are longer than others, and you just need to relax. But I also believe TV shouldn’t be our default when it comes to entertainment. I’ll have internet installed soon because there’s only so much you can do from your phone. But after realizing how productive I’m being without it, I’m going to hold off on cable for now—at least until baseball season.