Breaking Habits

I will confess to being a bit of a creature of habit. I don’t know how much of that is stubbornness and liking routine and how much is because once I find something that works I don’t see a reason to change it. That can sometimes mean I get stuck in a rut or don’t realize when things have changed so that this isn’t the best thing for me now. I’ve found a good example of that in the past couple of weeks.

When I first started working from home for my public relations job more than 20 years ago, I got in the habit of watching the local midday news on TV while I ate lunch. That kept me on a good schedule, since the news was on at noon, and they did the health news usually starting around 12:25 (I was still doing some medical writing then). That meant if I turned on the TV at 12:25, I could catch the health news, then the bottom-of-the-hour repeat of the top stories at 12:30 and get the weather forecast, along with any entertainment news that they put at the end, and I’d be back to work at 1.

Then about four years ago they moved the midday news to 11, which didn’t fit my lunch schedule. I got the bright idea to set a season recording on my DVR, and then I could start lunch whenever I wanted and forward past commercials or any stories or segments I didn’t care about. This meant I ended up spending more time, since I was often watching the whole newscast instead of half of it, and I wasn’t keeping to a steady schedule anymore. But I never questioned whether I needed to make any changes.

Until a couple of weeks ago. My DVR runs on Android TV, and Google did its usual thing of discontinuing an application, rendering the device that runs on it useless. The application that gives the program information is no longer updated, so the DVR season recordings don’t work. It can get the program info for the channel it’s set on, so a couple of hours before something comes on you can manually set a recording. It finally occurred to me to wonder why I should bother. I read the newspaper and then I watch the national and local news in the evening. I don’t need to repeat the same news throughout the day. I’ve started watching videos on writing, history, and other things that are moderately educational while I eat lunch, and after two weeks I already don’t miss the news at all. I’m learning something, am less stressed (without all the doom and gloom from the news), and I’m spending less time on my lunch break. The TV station has most of the individual segments on their app and YouTube channel, so I can get the weather report or anything else I want to see without watching the whole newscast.

So far, I’ve already gone through a series of writing workshops and a few history documentaries. Or, if it’s a nice day, I take my lunch outside and just read. I guess I could bring out my tablet and watch videos outside while I eat lunch. I feel rather liberated by removing this bit of routine. I suppose this means I should look at other things I could change, but I don’t want to shock my system too much.

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