Massive List of Things to Do While Watching TV


Even the most riveting TV shows plague you with time-sucking commercials every few minutes, and very rarely does any TV-watching session require all your brain power or leave you feeling truly satisfied or productive. Here’s a massive list of things you can do while watching TV (and some more concentrated activities that you can fit in during the commercials) that will keep you productive, fit, balanced, and moving forward in your life. (See also: 8 Alternatives to Cable TV That Will Keep You Entertained)

  1. Snuggle.
  2. Organize and log your tax-deductible receipts.
  3. Open your mail.
  4. Organize dresser and kitchen drawers — one at a time.
  5. Pay bills.
  6. Water the plants.
  7. Play with pets.
  8. Write a letter to somebody you haven’t been in touch with for way too long.
  9. Arrange flowers.
  10. Mend holes in your clothing.
  11. Make use of your mismatched socks.
  12. Sharpen knives.
  13. Make a cork board.
  14. Make — and enjoy — your own hot pack.
  15. Clip coupons.
  16. Organize CD and DVD collections. (Do your DVDs and CDs end up in the wrong cases? Now is your chance to fix it).
  17. Stretch.
  18. Groom pets.
  19. Give yourself a manicure and/or pedicure.
  20. Create a vision board.
  21. Plant a window-box herb garden.
  22. Soak your feet.
  23. Defrag your computer.
  24. Forward this post to somebody who watches too much TV.
  25. Ponder 100 ways to change your life.
  26. Make this year’s Christmas presents.
  27. Clean out your purse.
  28. See if you can actually prepare a meal just as quickly as they’re cooking it on the cooking show you’re watching.
  29. Rearrange your furniture.
  30. Breathe.
  31. Lift weights.
  32. Twitter.
  33. Clean your plant’s leaves (using powdered milk, banana peels, or mouthwash).
  34. Brainstorm.
  35. Give (or get) a massage.
  36. Wax your legs/arms/etc.
  37. Vacuum.
  38. Scrub coffee stains off your mugs with baking soda.
  39. Prepare lunch for the next work day.
  40. Revamp your LinkedIn profile.
  41. Make lists.
  42. Flip through magazines.
  43. Drink water.
  44. Eat a meal.
  45. Write out grocery lists.
  46. Accumulate frequent flyer miles for your next vacation.
  47. Exercise.
  48. Play with social media.
  49. Have a laptop handy to research quirky concepts that you see on TV.
  50. Tweak your resume.
  51. Research your next vacation.
  52. Prepare a meal.
  53. Sort through photographs.
  54. Arts and crafts.
  55. Write to-do lists.
  56. Polish the silverware.
  57. Journal.
  58. Water the plants.
  59. Make a scrapbook.
  60. Ironing.

Here are some more bite-sized tasks you can take on during the commercial breaks. In some cases, using the commercials to time these activities (like sit-ups) can make them more palatable and reduce the discipline required.

  1. Wash dishes.
  2. Clean the house — two minutes at a time. (See if you can get a whole room done by the end of your show).
  3. Meditate.
  4. Alternate doing sit-ups and push-ups constantly through each commercial break.
  5. Read.

Finally, I asked people on Facebook and Twitter what they do while they watch TV, and here are a few of their responses:

  1. Eat popcorn.
  2. Crossword or Sudoku puzzles.
  3. Knit.
  4. Facebook.
  5. Play with iPhone.
  6. Make out.
  7. Answer emails.
  8. Surf the web.
  9. Throw a ball for the dog.
  10. Think about how the TV show could have been written better.
  11. Contemplate how to get back that time later.
  12. According to my wife, mostly snore.

And my favorite:

  1. Um…watch TV????

What do you do while watching TV?

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Guest's picture

laundry. start & empty loads during commercials.

Guest's picture

this assumes that you are mindlessly watching tv. if you are purposefully watching tv, many of these won't work. although some will, such as exercising or cleaning.

some I'd NEVER do,such as paying bills.

Guest's picture

Hard to do Nora with my thumb always MUTE. Seriously a good list and a great idea.

Guest's picture

This could be read as a list of things to do INSTEAD of TV.

Guest's picture

i do crunches and yoga.

Guest's picture

Some of these suggestions make ZERO sense. How can you meditate or journal while watching television? Both activities require complete peace and quiet, so you can reflect and connect with your inner thoughts. I've tried doing them while watching television and it doesn't work. If you're doing either activity in front of your television, you're surely not paying it any attention. I also don't see how you can devote the proper attention to writing a detailed letter while actively watching television. And if you're reading a book, or making out, your eyes certainly aren't on the TV screen. Most of these things I can do while listening to my television in the background but NOT while watching it.

Guest's picture

I love to knit when I watch tv. In fact, I do it while traveling, while having casual conversations, and even at my Weight Watchers meetings and counselling sessions. I have Asperger's Syndrome, and sometimes my fidgeting distracts me, or I feel uncomfortable with making eye contact. Since knitting is something that I can do with my hands almost automatically, I can focus better on conversations, and even increase my eye contact comfort.

Meg Favreau's picture

I'm a fidgeter too, and I used to knit during some of my college classes. I introduced myself to my professors on the first day and explained that I still took notes and paid attention, and that knitting helped me focus. None of them ever had a problem with it, and I knitted a full blanket one semester.

Guest's picture

Great list but water the plants is on it twice :)

Guest's picture

What I do while watching TV (two hours per night, usually) depends on how productive I've been (or felt I've been) the rest of the day. If I've been super-productive, I let TV be my break and don't do anything but snuggle with my husband.

If I haven't been productive, I usually end up doing something while watching TV.

Things I often do while watching TV: run the laundry, fold the dried laundry; mend clothes; organize the living room.

I've found that if I'm watching TV, that's my primary activity. The other thing I'm doing has to take up less of my mental capacity or it doesn't get done. If I actually want to be productive, I usually opt to listen to music/the radio.

Nora Dunn's picture
Nora Dunn

There's rarely anything in particular on tv that requires all my brain power. So like you - I often end up doing things that take up less mental capacity but need doing nonetheless.
When I want to be productive, even music is a distraction, unfortunately. Instead of writing, I'm singing along! :-)

Guest's picture

I've been crocheting hats for the Hat Box Foundation - so I'm keeping my hands busy, not eating between meals and getting a tax deduction while helping the homeless keep warm in the winters.

Guest's picture

I channel surf or mute the TV and turn on Pandora.
I also switch on the app.
The app notifies me on my iPhone when the show is back!!