How to Get Things Done on Your To-Do List

As you may remember, I started the Laws of Bliss as an antidote for my obsession with television. Obsession is a strong word. I’ve never been obsessed with T.V. in the same way I’ve been obsessed with donuts. But, after finding myself watching an inordinate amount of bad television, I knew it was time to…

As you may remember, I started the Laws of Bliss as an antidote for my obsession with television. Obsession is a strong word. I’ve never been obsessed with T.V. in the same way I’ve been obsessed with donuts. But, after finding myself watching an inordinate amount of bad television, I knew it was time to find a new hobby. While food photography and blogging seem natural to me now, they weren’t necessarily clear choices at the time. Here are some other hobbies that I also considered at the time.

  • Biking: Fun fact about me–I don’t know how to ride a bike. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve actually never set foot (set ass?) on a bicycle, so maybe I do know how to ride a bike intuitively (highly unlikely), but I’ve never tried. While I love the idea of being an obnoxious Brooklyn hipster whose main mode of transportation is a bamboo bicycle, in reality, this dream was never going to work out because bicyclists are very vocal about how much space they need, and I am dainty little woman who likes to take up as little space as possible.

  • Gardening: we are #blessed to have our own garden/backyard in Brooklyn. It has brought us tremendous joy and boosted our quality of life, so what better way to enjoy our garden than by becoming an amateur gardener? But after three hours of “researching” how to be a home gardener, the only thing I had learned was that I wanted a non-functional antique watering can. And now we have noxious weeds overtaking our garden so that went well.

  • Hiking: oh, wait, I live in New York City.

  • Knitting: oh, wait, I’m not 100 years old.

  • Singing: oh, wait, my voice sounds like a mashup of the Black Eyed Peas and Nancy Grace.

After I settled on cooking and blogging, my evenings after work became filled with writing, researching, cooking, and food photography, instead of watching the tube. But fast forward six months later, and I am back at watching T.V. several nights a week, sometimes for over an hour. To some of you, an hour of T.V. may seem like the appetizer to an entrée (binge-watching an entire season of The Walking Dead), but for me, it is a big deal.

My Rocky Relationship with Television

For a significant part of my formative years (ages 4-12), I was deprived of a staple in American childhood: cable television. My father, wise man that he was, thought his kids would focus more on school if they didn’t have the distraction of television around. Cruel as this was, he was indeed right. I poured all of my extra time and energy into my studies, devouring dozens of books each month and proudly asking my teachers for extra homework. Have we talked about how I was most definitely a nerd?

Then, at the age of 12, my father pulled a 180 and signed up for DirectTV. All of a sudden, I had access to over 200 channels. Except for the nudey ones, obviously. I remember one Saturday, when my parents weren’t home, I literally spent hours watching I Love Lucy reruns and reveling in the hedonism of it all. I soon began doing that with other television shows, and before I knew it, I was spending a considerable portion of my tween summers watching such classic and well-regarded shows as Degrassi: The Next Generation and Passions: The Greatest Soap Opera There Ever Was. I was binge-watching before binge-watching became cool.

I think my current resistance to watching too much television stems from those unbridled self-indulgent summer afternoons spent glued to the recliner, remote in one hand, Entenmann’s cookie box in the other hand. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete abstainer when it comes to T.V. Max and I often get caught up in dramatic television series, such as Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, and watch light-hearted comedies on weeknights before bed. But in general, I try to avoid watching television for the sake of watching television.

So when I found myself binge-watching the entire season of Stranger Things in a weekend and watching three episodes of The Night Of in one day, I knew I was dangerously close to reverting to my bad tweenage habits.


Cutting Out Cable for the Week

I wish I had some juicy details to give you about how hard it was to go without watching T.V. for a week, or how I cheated and ended up watching Friends reruns out of desperation. But in reality, giving up T.V. was quite easy for me, and it yielded so many benefits. For one thing, I became a productivity machine. I was making so many to-do lists (and actually doing the to-dos) that I had to download a to-do list app and color code my to-do lists. The last time I completed so many to-do lists was back in law school, a period when I, not surprisingly, did not have a television.

In this week alone, I achieved tasks that I had been putting off for weeks, even months, and I felt accomplished and productive instead of lazy and tired, which is how I usually feel after work. I even launched a small business called Figberry with my friend! Check it out and subscribe! K, thanks.

Not watching television for a week even helped me get to know myself better. It reminded me that I am the kind of person who thrives on being productive and getting things done. Lest you think I am boasting, you should know that this proclivity also means I’m the kind of crazy person who finds cross-referenced, color-coded to-do lists more calming than scented bubble baths.

Before this week, I had been conceptualizing television as my end-of-the-day treat for going to work and doing all that difficult lawyering. But now I realize that my preferred treat, at least on most days, is simply having the time to work on projects and hobbies that I care about and enjoy. Or, meeting up with friends. I have friends who aren’t to-do lists, I’ll have you know.

There was, however, one downside to not watching television. During the week, Max and I don’t get to spend that much time together, so watching a T.V. show before bedtime is when we get to cuddle on the couch and enjoy each other’s company. Without Netflix as a crutch, frankly, we realized that we just don’t have that much in common. JUST KIDDING. We are basically the same person in two different bodies. But in all seriousness, without television, we missed out on that shared 30 minutes of mutual relaxation, which was kind of sad. But not sad enough to get me back to the dark side! It’s now day 11 of my No-T.V. Experiment. Yes, that’s right, I’ve continued on with this happiness hack! To be fair, I did make an exception for the presidential debate this past Monday. After all, it was a mood-lifting comedy for the ages.

Have you ever cut T.V. out of your life? How did you feel? Drop me a line in the comments!

Here’s to greater productivity and colored-coded to do lists,


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14 comments on How to Get Things Done on Your To-Do List

  1. Linnea Kindstrom

    This is great! And just the recipe for more time. So many people always complain about not having enough time, but if you really evaluate what you do with your time, that time in front of the TV takes up a lot of your time where could’ve been productive. I like this, a really great post! Thank you for sharing.

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi, Linnea! Thanks so much for reading along. I’m glad this was a helpful article! It really is amazing how much you can achieve when you eliminate distractions such as T.V. Now if only I could forget about some of the amazing series on television right now…

  2. Natalie | Feasting on Fruit

    I totally appreciate you for touching on this topic, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a blogger discuss it before. Not to mention I relate SO much! I certainly had those tween/teen years of watching way too much TV out of boredom mostly, but it has an addictive quality that I really do not like. The feeling at the end of a totally unproductive day of TV watching is awful. Not happy-making at all. The complete opposite of the tired but fulfilled feeling at the end of a productive creative day. That is the main reason I try to mostly avoid TV nowadays. I loved the hiking/knitting/singing part haha :D

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi, Natalie! Thanks for dropping by :) I can totally relate to that “ugh so unproductive” feeling at the end of a long TV watching sesh. It’s not pleasant and makes you feel bad about yourself, and I definitely feel so content and proud after spending a night of doing productive yet fun/creative things. My one exception is when a television series is so phenomenal that it’s like watching an incredible movie or broadway show. I’m only human, right? :)

  3. Renee

    This is a great idea! I limit my kids’ TV time pretty strictly (no TV during the school week, a few hours on the weekends), but I never thought to limit (or eliminate) my own TV time. I wonder what kind of miracles I could accomplish without being addicted to all of the real housewives!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Exactly – we are often concerned with limiting kids’ TV time but we never think about our own TV time. Time to change that!

  4. Tiina @myberryforest

    Hi Nisha :) Love your BLOG <3 Beautiful images and witty writing – I'm a fan :) I've been very addicted to TV shows at times, but when I started to focus more on IG, blogging, photography etc a year ago I didn't have any time for TV. I think I was probably nearly 6 months without any TV / netflix!! BUT THEN something happened – we got HBO and began watching The Night of (not so long ago) and after that I've been hooked again haha :) Of course now that I'm on mat leave I also have extra time (and very little energy for IG/blog etc…) during the day, so Netflixing is a way to relax..and I imagine when the baby arrives HBO & Netflix will be my daily "hobby" when baby is napping. Hehe active mom life :) Have a beautiful week!!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Aww thanks so much, Tiina! So happy you visited and enjoyed. Loved reading about your experience with TV. I agree, when I put time into my hobbies, I have very little or no time for TV and it feels great! But as soon as an amazing show (like The Night Of) comes along, the TV obsession returns! And it definitely is a nice way to relax and turn off your brain at night. You are a superstar mom, so it seems you can manage everything :)

  5. Leena

    Such an interesting post, Nisha. I have had a love-hate relationship with tv since I was in grad school. I know that it sucks up my time but sometimes I’m just a lazy fatass who can’t get off the couch lol. If it were up to me, I’d cancel cable & Netflix so there’d be no temptation but my hubby would throw a fit.

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi, Leena! You’re not a lazy fatass lol. There are two dilemmas. (1) Give into laziness and enjoy snacks on the couch or avoid TV and be productive. (2) Cancel all the TV and embrace productivity but threaten your hubby’s happiness. There must be a solution, like a TV that turns on only with a particular fingerprint or eye recognition system!

  6. Sara (swimyogarun)

    Hi Nisha. I used to binge watch TV in my teens but when I left home to start studying I decided to cut Television and I think it was one of my best decisions ever. I got great grades, a fab job and all my friends wonder how I can have two kids and still have a fab job and do all the amazing things I love. Ok I do watch the occasional GoT episode on netflix with hubby but when that happens it’s a big event, we donut have cable or regular TV. Oh never mind my job is making video games… Hehe.

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi, Sara! Thanks for reading :) Isn’t it amazing what you can achieve when you don’t watch TV? I have been going on two weeks of no-TV and I feel so productive, almost like I could run the world hehe. I agree, though, when it’s something special like GoT, you gotta make it an event! We also don’t have cable, and when I told my TV-loving dad that, he was so confused and said “Hmm, you must not be my daughter” lol.

  7. Mara

    I don’t know if I can do this! I love my reality tv shows lol. But I also always complain about not getting enough done. You might have convinced me, we’ll see :)

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Mara! Thank you so much for visiting and reading! Give it a try for just a week and see how it goes. I’d recommend finding substitute activities that are equally fun and rewarding :)

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