How Olympic binge-watching can help you live a more fulfilling life

FullSizeRender-3We are less than a month away from the summer Olympics, and I am gearing myself up for some epic television watching. To be sure, I do not watch the games live. I DVR the broadcasts so I can forward through the commercials, the gauzy athlete portraits, and endless commentary. Still, I know this is going to consume a lot of time.

It’s not just me. Lots of busy people will be watching Olympic coverage. I suspect some of these people have claimed, with straight faces, that they have little leisure time. Yet when something compelling is on offer, the time appears.

We should not be surprised. Time is highly elastic. If your water heater breaks and floods your basement, you will make time to deal with it. Likewise, we get sucked into watching hours of gymnastic floor routines (check out Simone Biles! Wow!). Time can often be redeployed from one thing to another, and what it is appropriate to spend time on is as much a judgement call as anything else.

This is all fine. But it is also incredibly useful information. If you are an intense Olympic viewer, try tracking your time during the weeks of the games. See how much time is devoted to TV watching, and when. See what does not happen during this time. Once the Olympics ends, you can make a conscious decision not to resume the things you didn’t care about that got crowded out. So the basement is a little messy. So you were a bit slower responding to emails. Oh well. The time devoted to Olympic watching can then be repurposed for other things you’d like to do but believe you don’t have time to do. Painting? Writing a novel? Starting a book club? Reading in general?

I experience this phenomenon of elastic time occasionally when I’m really into something I’m reading. From Sunday to Thursday this week, I read all 437 pages of Jordan Ellenberg’s book, How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking. I enjoyed it enough to fill pretty much any available time with it, which is how I got to read 437 dense pages over 5 days. Sometimes I feel I don’t have time to read, but clearly I do. It’s just a question of seeing that time, and deciding to fill it with what I wish to fill it with.

6 thoughts on “How Olympic binge-watching can help you live a more fulfilling life

  1. I’m SO excited for the summer Olympics this year, because I actually feel like it’s the first time in years I actually DO have time to watch them! 2008 was residency (ugh) and 2012 I had a newborn and every moment of sleep counted. This year I want us all to snuggle up to some gymnastics, swimming, and track! I LOOOOOOVE Simone Biles, by the way. Just unbelievable.

    1. @SHU – I’m hoping I can hook the toddler on Olympic watching so we can watch it from 5:30-7:30 A.M. instead of Thomas the Train. I also had a young child in the summer of 2012 whose sleep was somewhat questionable and — funny that! — I have another one now. One of the highlights of attending a conference in the summer of 2012 was the ability to go back to my hotel room at night and just watch HOURS of Olympic coverage, knowing if I went to bed at midnight I could set my alarm for 7:30 A.M. and *no one would wake me up before then.* Ah… Maybe I need to find a good long conference in August this year 🙂

  2. I’m also looking forward to watching the Olympics (likely streaming from the web) with my kids. I haven’t been into the Olympics since I was a child, and now I will watch with my two elementary schoolers, who have their own budding athletic dreams.

  3. Love a beautiful gymnastics routine. Probably because I’m not very flexible myself I am in awe of others. But besides Olympic viewing the other day a friend and I were talking about tv and I said that I didn’t watch much tv. Then as we were talking and I had seen every show she was talking about… I realized maybe I do. I may go weeks with no tv viewing, but a long night up with a sick kid may have me literally binge watching for 6 hours. Or maybe I have a sinus infection and I’m stuck home, or any number of events occur and bam! So once I started thinking about it I probably watch 15-20 hours a month. Guess I do watch a good bit of tv after all.

    1. @Jennie – I generally don’t watch much TV – I know that from my time logs – but in my case, the situation is worse. I know all the characters and actors because I’m reading stupid magazine and web articles about them. So I’m not even getting the benefit of watching the TV shows themselves! How awful is that? 🙂

  4. The Olympics brings up all kinds of nostalgic memories about childhood & summer for me. Its been a LONG TIME since I’ve watched them (2000?) due to various all-consuming life stages. I’ll have to figure out how to stream coverage from my computer this year so we can watch together.
    I don’t know if I would say that you “find the time” and then can fill it with something else fun when you are done with the binge-watching. I think I am more likely to take the time from something else temporarily and then have to give that time back. But maybe you are right. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll track my time this August and see…

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