I was experiencing a pretty frustrating morning when I decided it was time to get out of the house, slap on my headphones, and go for a hike. Gaining self control is a constant issue in my world, so I checked in on my podcast library to see what I could find to pull me out of my miry mood. If podcasts could be spirit animals, I found mine in this episode of Freakonomics Radio where Katherine Milkman shared her findings on a concept she has coined “Temptation Bundling.” (NOTE: she also discusses the “Fresh Start Effect” in this episode, but for the purpose of focus, I’m saving that one for a future post).
Milkman’s idea of “Temptation Bundling” has you pair something that you like to do with something that you should do. Generally speaking, as humans, we are naturally inclined to create time for what we enjoy and avoid that which we do not, which is why so many people have a tough time setting and achieving goals. So, the light bulb went off, and her research followed. Admittedly, this theory stemmed from her own personal challenges sticking to diets and her struggles with self control at the end of long work days. Her motivation was to research possible solutions for herself as well as to help others reach their goals.
While listening, I realized that I had unknowingly implemented her notion of “Temptation Bundling” several years ago. At the time, I was unhappy with my health, and couldn’t figure out how to motivate myself to hop on the treadmill that was collecting dust in my bedroom. I made excuse after excuse: I’m too busy, I’m too tired, I’m too lazy (ok, so that one was probably true, but not a decent reason). It occurred to me one day that I was clearly not “too busy” to workout if I had enough time to binge on Netflix every night and most weekends. So, I made a decision that I was “not allowed” to watch any television unless I was on my treadmill. I didn’t have to run or get too crazy, but I had to be moving. Guess what? IT WORKED! I was on that treadmill every.single.day. which might say more about my addiction to Netflix than it does about my commitment to getting healthy, but it doesn’t matter! I was on the right road to a healthier and happier me. Turns out, I also had this trick in my back pocket to get my laundry done. I made a rule that I was only allowed to watch Jeopardy (yes, I’m a nerd and I love Alex Trebek’s quippy ways) while folding clothes. SPOILER ALERT: IT WORKED AGAIN! Ultimately, I had paired something I liked to do: watch television, with something I should do: workout & fold clothes.
Here are a few more examples of “Temptation Bundling” that might be up your alley:
- Indulge in a cheat meal & do 50 sit-ups
- Only listen to your favorite album & balance your checkbook
- Skip your workout? Skip the brewsky!
- Avoiding someone you should spend time with? Take them to your favorite restaurant (reserve this restaurant solely & completely for difficult people)
- Clean out your inbox while watching your favorite movie
- Declutter while listening to your favorite podcast
- Only play Candy Crush when you’re on the stationary bike (please only on a stationary one . . . yikes!)
If you need help getting your “Temptation Bundle” together, don’t sweat it!
I’ve got a worksheet to help you figure it out:
What did you come up with? I’d LOVE to see all of your bundles in the comments below!
If you want to read some other great posts from some of my bloggy friends, we’ve got a Bloggy Brunch goin’ on!