It’s funny how quickly life changes. When I first started writing this post, the COVID-19 pandemic was happening elsewhere. Not where I live. Then in a matter of a week or two, businesses and schools around the country were closed, and many people had a lot more time on their hands.
So what did many of us turn to? TV of course!
After all, we all needed a mental break from the terribleness of a global pandemic, a distraction from job loss and financial woes, or a break from our families.
But after awhile, all that TV time adds up to a lot of wasted time. Enter this list of productive things to do while watching TV!
If you’re working from home and homeschooling kids, you’re pulled in a thousand directions and it seems like no matter what you do, there’s never enough time to get everything done in a day. Since we can’t create more hours in a day, we need to be more productive with the time we do have.
I’ve talked about time saving tips before in a broad sense, but the list that follows are tasks you can do in your downtime. I was specifically thinking about productive things to do while you’re watching TV, but they can be done whenever you have a few minutes to yourself.
Before we get to the list though I want to make one thing very clear: you can and should take a break. You work hard all day and are a rockstar mom. You don’t have to fill the few minutes of downtime you get with more chores and things to do.
This list is only meant for when you have a bit of extra energy at the end of the day and want to get something done.
If you just want to veg on the couch and mindlessly watch TV, that’s totally fine. Enjoy it!
But if you want to get a bit more on top of your to do list or chores, tackle one or two items from the list below while you’re watching TV. Chances are you’ll go to bed feeling a bit more productive and maybe even a little less overwhelmed by everything there is to do.
(I recognize that not all of these ideas may be relevant under a global pandemic that’s closed most schools for the academic year. That’s okay. We’ll get back to normal at some point and then these extra suggestions might be helpful!)
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Take Care of Yourself
I’m putting this at the very top of the list because as moms we usually put ourselves last.
If you’re looking to get something done while you’re watching TV, make it something for yourself! You deserve it!
- Give yourself a manicure or pedicure.
- Whip up a homemade facial mask and cleanse your pores while you relax.
- Tweeze your brows.
- Pamper your tootsies: exfoliate your heels, give yourself a foot massage, and lather them up with your favorite lotion.
- Put on teeth whitening strips to make your pearly whites even whiter!
- Use a blackhead remover to clear your complexion while zoning in front of the TV.
- Moisturize: use your favorite lotion to re-hydrate your skin. Pay special attention to rough spots like elbows and knees!
- Color your hair or touch-up your highlights.
Workout While Watching TV
I’m a big fan of finding little ways to incorporate more movement into my day.
Exercising while watching TV is the perfect time to tackle some of your fitness goals. It won’t replace a traditional, dedicated workout, but as I’ve said time and again, every bit helps!
Here are some quick exercises you can do while watching TV:
- Stretch: aim for a variety of poses targeting your legs, arms, torso, neck, and back. Do whatever feels good and take care not to over do it.
- Leg raises
- Calf lifts
- Lift weights
- These back exercises that don’t require weights
- Hula hoop
- Yoga/pilates poses
There are plenty of other options for working out while watching TV. Do a quick Google search to find the options and workouts that work best for you.
Chores You Can Do While Watching TV
Checking a few chores off your to do list is a great way to feel more productive while relaxing at the same time.
- Fold the laundry.
- Iron clothes.
- Dust and tidy the room you’re in.
- Wipe down dirt marks on the walls and clean the baseboards.
- Clean out the fireplace.
- Disinfect your phone.
- If you have silver serving pieces or flatware, get your polishing mitt and shine them up while you’re watching your favorite show.
Some chores work best when you’re watching live TV with commercial breaks. As soon as the commercials come on, hop up and tackle one of these chores!
- Empty or load the dishwasher.
- Start a load of laundry.
- Wipe down the kitchen or bathroom counters.
- Use toilet bowl cleaner to give the toilet a quick scrub.
- Spray down windows or mirrors with vinegar for a cheap, DIY window cleaner.
- Dust your light fixtures.
- Run around the house and disinfect all door knobs and light switches.
- Clean out your fridge.
- Change your sheets.
Make money while watching TV? Sounds great, right? You probably won’t make enough to replace your day job, but anytime you make a few extra bucks it helps with your savings or debt pay down goals!
- Use sites like MyPoints, Swagbucks, or InboxDollars to take online surveys (but don’t expect a big pay out!).
- Sign up for Rakuten and get cash back for your online shopping. You’ll also receive a welcome bonus!
- Sign up for Ibotta, Checkout 51, and SavingStar to earn cash back on groceries. Most also offer a welcome bonus!
- Check for unclaimed funds.
- Need to declutter? Post your unwanted stuff on letgo, OfferUp, the Facebook marketplace, or other online buy/sell groups for extra cash. I’ve made nearly $500 in this past year alone!
- Sell gift cards you’re never going to use through sites like Cardpool or GiftCardGranny.
Get Your Financial House in Order
- Pay your bills.
- Scan recent charges to your bank account or credit cards to make sure there aren’t any fraudulent charges.
- While you’re at it, take a look at recurring charges like gym memberships and subscriptions. If you’re not using them, cancel them to save money.
- Request a quote for homeowners, car, or renters insurance to see if you can get a better deal.
- Check your data usage on your cell phone bill. If you’re not regularly using it up, see if you can downgrade to a lower plan.
- Cut your cable, or downgrade to a lower plan, especially if you have a few streaming services.
- Check your retirement account to see how you’re doing.
- If you don’t already have a monthly transfer from your checking to savings account, set one up! Even $10 a month helps with your emergency fund!
- Look up repayment or refinance options for your debt to see if you can get a better rate.
- Set up a high-yield savings account for you or your children.
- Look into 529 college savings plans for your kids.
- If you don’t have life insurance, request a few quotes.
We usually think of decluttering as a whole-house activity, but when you break it down into mini tasks, there are several things you can do while watching TV.
- Sort your mail and get rid of the junk mail.
- Clean out and organize your purse.
- Manage your digital clutter by cleaning out your inbox, deleting bad pictures, and getting rid of old files.
- Tackle the paper clutter by setting up your shredder and shredding your old files. While you’re at it, sign up for paperless billing wherever possible.
- Pull out a junk drawer or desk drawer and get organizing.
- Go through your jewelry box. Either fix or pitch anything that’s broken and get rid of earrings you’ve lost the match to. Donate or get rid of things you don’t wear anymore.
- Purge your dresser drawers. Throw away anything stained or torn (that you won’t get mended), and throw in the donation bag anything that doesn’t fit or that you don’t wear anymore.
- Go through your DVDs and CDs and donate anything you won’t watch or listen to anymore.
- Take out any boxes of mementos, cards, or souvenirs you have and get rid of what’s not important anymore. Do you really need every single card you’ve ever received?
- Go through the kids’ projects, paperwork, and art and cull the clutter. Keep the really special stuff or scan/take pictures of it.
- During a commercial break, quickly empty your medicine cabinet of any expired medicines or products you no longer use.
- Open up your makeup bag and ditch old products and things you no longer wear. While you’re at it, get a bowl of warm, soapy water to clean your makeup brushes.
Other Ways to be Productive While Watching TV
- Meal plan and make your grocery list.
- Clip coupons or look for digital coupons.
- Do your grocery shopping online (if you can get a delivery slot!)! At the time of this writing, Amazon Fresh waived the delivery fee for orders over $50. Game changer.
- Pack your lunch or the kids’ lunch for tomorrow.
- As I talked about in my post on getting dinner fast, meal prep in advance. Chop a few vegetables or marinate your meat during commercial breaks.
- Stop procrastinating: respond to the birthday/wedding/shower invitation you received, shop online for a gift (using these hacks to save money on Amazon!), or donate to a friend’s fundraiser for an upcoming race.
- Develop new playlists for your workout, upcoming parties, or to motivate you while you clean.
- Mend something: sew on a button, glue a broken ceramic, or get rid of things you’re not going to fix.
- If your passport is expiring soon, apply for a new one.
- Stock up on staples and household items by shopping online. Sign up for Amazon Subscribe and Save so you never run out of your favorite products again!
- Register your kids’ for their extracurricular activities if they have online signups.
- Scrapbook, if that’s your thing, or organize your photos and mementos.
- Work on a craft project you enjoy, or learn a new skill like crocheting or knitting.
- Polish your jewelry.
- Update your little one’s baby book.
- Sterilize bottles, pacifiers, or toys.
- Steam veggies to make your own baby food.
Get Organized While Watching TV
- Make lists: to do lists, Christmas gift lists, home projects you want to tackle, etc. Use an app like Keep Notes to keep your partner on the same page.
- Update your address book or Christmas card list.
- Delete old contacts on your phone. Add all of your current doctors and your dentist if you haven’t already.
- Delete old voicemails and notes on your phone.
- Grab your loose change jar(s) and get rolling.
- Backup photos and other important files to the cloud or an external hard drive.
- Make sure your calendar is up to date: add in your family’s doctor appointments, birthday parties, maintenance you’re having done on the house, deadlines, and anything else you can think of to lighten your mental load of having to remember everything!
Dream Big and Have Fun
- Plan your next vacation: research destinations and check out prices for flights and accommodations.
- Tired of your job? Start looking for a new one. Use sites like Glassdoor.com for salary comparisons within your industry. Update your resume while you’re at it!
- Look for classes you can take or credentials you can earn to make yourself more marketable.
- Find new recipes or home decor inspiration by scrolling through Pinterest.
- Hire a babysitter for sometime during the next weekend and make a reservation at your favorite restaurant.
Making Downtime Productive Time
Again, you don’t HAVE to do anything productive while watching TV if you don’t want to. I currently get up at 5:00 a.m. to get some work done before I try to homeschool the kids for most of the day. By the time I put them down for bed I’m exhausted and don’t really have the focus or energy to do much more than zone out in front of the TV.
But I can roll some change from my change jar, or start putting together my grocery list. And stretching after a day of hunching over my laptop and chasing after the kids all day feels soooooo good. Find what works for you, and congratulate yourself for getting something done, instead of berating yourself for everything that you need to do!