53 Positive, Productive Things You Can Do While You’re Watching TV

updated Sep 27, 2019
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Credit: Morgan Schemel

Welcome to Watch Week! In honor of fall TV season and the newly minted Emmy winners, we’re streaming new content daily about watching television—because after all, watching TV is one of the best parts about being at home. Catch up on all of our episodes articles here.

We talk a lot about productivity and checklists and routines and schedules and cleaning shortcuts and time management and all the things that help us squeeze the most out of our days. But go go go all the time is a recipe for crashing and burning. Each of us needs wind-down time and the physical and mental space to turn off and let go for a bit.

While our TV time has drastically changed over the years (my kids have zero concept of having to wait until their show comes on and are still bewildered if we’re watching something we can’t pause), many of us still turn to the tube for passive relaxation at the end of the day.

Nobody’s saying not to enjoy the best part of your day—aka the moment you get to whip off your bra and settle in to binge-watching. But if you’re worried about spending too much sedentary time on the sofa while you’re catching up on your latest obsession, here are some ways to integrate some small life improvements to your TV time—so you can have your cake and eat it, too.

Here’s a mega list of things you can do just before or after you watch something, or even during commercial breaks or while you’re watching your show:

If You Want to Get Crafty with a Hobby

  • Make a mood board from magazine cutouts, or virtually on your phone
  • Make the deliberate effort to bring your project out of the garage or hobby room to your TV-watching area
  • Grab your sketchbook and pencil before you sit on the couch
  • Finger knit
  • Get un-rusty by practicing a craft you learned when you were young, like embroidery or friendship bracelets
  • If you sew, cut out your fabric or trace your pattern pieces
  • Practice hand-lettering
Credit: Joe Lingeman

If You Want to Organize or Declutter

  • Bring your whole junk drawer to the living room and sort through it
  • Sort through that bin of miscellaneous craft supplies
  • Bring a pile of papers to the living room and sort through it
  • Sort through one box of “sentimental items” you keep stashed on the top shelf of the closet
  • Match the collection of orphan socks you keep in a basket
  • KonMari fold your clothes
  • Pull all your books or DVDs off the shelf and sort them into piles based on how much you enjoy them

If You’re Working on Your Mental Health

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

If You Need to Do Housework

  • Fold laundry
  • Iron or steam your clothes
  • Put away everything that doesn’t belong in the living room
  • Vacuum one area rug
  • Fold another load of laundry
  • Put a basket of laundry away
  • Throw a load in the washer
  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Put the dishes on the dish drainer away
  • Take out the garbage
Credit: Sandra Rojo

If You Want to Connect With Others

  • Snuggle while you watch
  • Give a loved one a twenty-second hug during a commercial break
  • Shoot someone a “thinking of you” text
  • Write a thank you note or email to a child’s teacher
  • Write a thank you note or email to one of your old teachers
  • Give your partner a foot or hand or back massage

If You Need to Get That Exercise In

Credit: Fuse/Getty Images

If You Feel Like You Should Get Ahead

  • Make a list of to-dos
  • Break down that list of to-dos into smaller actionable items
  • Make a timeline for a bigger work or home project
  • Check your calendar for the next month and write down any related tasks
  • Plan your meals for the next week
  • Order groceries online
  • Reconcile your accounts
  • Catch up on your budget
  • Pay your bills online