Turn Up the TV, I'm Working


red couchTime blogger Bill Tancer likes to get work done while watching TV:

Lately I’ve been obsessed with couch multitasking — either working over e-mail while watching the tube, or in most cases adding depth to what I see on the television with real-time web-based research. Tonight, as I actually write a column while watching TV and simultaneously researching what I’m watching, I’m entering dangerous spousal territory. But based on independent research, I don’t think I’m alone in this obsession.

I know Tancer’s not the only one who occasionally mixes TV watching into work time. Sometimes when I get bogged down and unmotivated and sick of sitting in the same place, I take my laptop to the upstairs bedroom and work on the bed while getting dinner ideas from Food Network TV. Other times I set up on the kitchen table so I can help the kids with homework while I answer email.

That’s one great thing about mobile connectedness — you can more smoothly mix your work and your life together, whether it be making TV watching into research like Tancer does or turning homework time into homework-and-zero-inbox time.

The risk, of course, is that you compromise your work and your personal life because you’re always mixing everything together, never giving either full attention. (If you have trouble keeping work and home separate, see our tips for transitioning between work and home when work’s at home.)

How do you mix together work and personal life at home? On the couch? At the kitchen table?


Mike Noirca

I work in a fulltime position but also put in about 20 hours a week as a freelance consultant. I do have a dedicated office at home but find myself on weekday evenings perched on the couch next to my wife with my laptop on my knees watching the tube with her while I work.

It”s amazing how fast the time goes when couch multitasking (work & tube). It’s also surprising how long it takes to get something done as opposed to working on projects in my dedicated office…. and I bill by the hour… oops……


I’m always watching video podcasts (or TV, if I can) while working. Yeah, it can be a little distracting, but I’m only “watching” in the passive sense — if something calls out to me, I’ll shift my attention.

Chris Coyier

I can’t even watch TV unless I’m doing something else as well. Otherwise it’s just wasted time and I can’t have that. I actually have an EyeTV on my Mac so I can stay caught up on shows while working on whatever.

Naomi Dunford

What a great title!

I use two tricks… One, when I’m on the computer, my back is to the television. We have a fancy-pants new widescreen, so it’s easy to get sucked in. Two, I only have the TV on when I’m working if sports are on. Dialog distracts me completely, whereas football or hockey makes for good background noise but doesn’t get me emotionally involved. :)


I am constantly doing 10 things at once. Writing a paper, post, coding a web page, watching TV, listening to the radio, etc. A lot of things get really monotonous once you get into the same routine. I mean, coding a style sheet from scratch is “fun” the first few times, but after about a 100 or so, I loose interest. By keeping my mind on two things, I can push the same code out at a steady pace, while not getting bored and walking away from it. Thus, instead of getting bored, walking away, and coming back 30 minutes later going, where the heck was I? I keep chugging along, until I run into a problem. Then I turn everything off and concentrate.


I’m suffering from the same kind of obsession :-)
I’m mixing work and personal life at home on the couch. Rarely watching TV but listening to (web-)radio, talking with my wife and…enjoying the warm pleasure of the fire in the fireplace.

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