Do you want to exercise more but struggle to actually get up from the couch? Unfortunately life is full of unpleasurable activities that we know we must do. The good news is that it’s possible to make these dreaded tasks more appealing by using a concept called “temptation bundling”. If you have low willpower but want to be more productive then read below. This article will explain what temptation bundling entails and how you can use it to achieve your goals.
What Is Temptation Bundling
Temptation bundling is when you pair something that brings you pleasure with an activity that provides delayed gratification. Basically it’s a form of bribery. You allow yourself an indulgence while you complete an unpleasant chore like cleaning the house. Marrying the two things together can turn a dreaded activity into an enjoyable one that you actually look forward to. Examples of temptation bundling include drinking a coffee while going for a long walk or watching Netflix on the exercise bike. The theory is that if you make an enjoyable activity contingent on an unappealing chore, you’ll be more likely to complete the tasks you’ve been procrastinating. This method can effectively motivate lazy people to check off everything on their to-do list.
Where Did This Idea Come From?
Temptation bundling originates from the study of behavioural economics and psychology. The term was most notably popularised in a 2014 research paper by Katy Milkman, Hengchen Dai and Jason Riis. Their study tested whether people reluctant to exercise would be more likely to do it if they paired workouts with the enjoyable activity of listening to audiobooks. The research participants were given iPods to listen to Hunger Games novels on but were strictly told they could only use it while at the gym. They were forced to bundle the task they didn’t want to do with the activity that brought them pleasure and it seemed to work. The ones who listened to audiobooks only while working out went to the gym 51% more often. This “Holding the Hunger Games Hostage at the Gym” study was a bit of a game changer in the psychology field. Not only did it popularise the term “temptation bundling”, it also showed people a new way to boost productivity when motivation levels are low.
Why Does This Work?
Temptation bundling is an effective method because it teaches you to associate difficult tasks with an exciting reward. In psychology there is a term known as the “Premack principle”. This principle states that you are more likely to complete a task if there is a reward at the end. It was initially developed to help children establish good habits like making their beds. Temptation bundling is similar to the Premack principle but instead of having to wait for a reward, you get it while doing the difficult task. Over time, those annoying jobs will stop feeling like chores because you get to enjoy an indulgence while doing it. Once the habit has been established, it is hard to stop. Temptation bundling is therefore a great way to create momentum and help you get into a routine that boosts your overall productivity.
How You Could Use It
Start by creating a two column table. In the left column, list everything that brings you pleasure. That could be eating snacks, listening to podcasts, doing crosswords or reading books. In the right column, note down tasks you tend to procrastinate on but need to get done. This could include going to the gym, doing zone two cardio, vacuuming the house or walking the dog. Once you have compiled your lists, create a rule that you will only partake in an enjoyable activity from the left column while completing one of the tasks from the right. For example, “I will only read those informative NZProtein blogs while walking on the treadmill at the gym.” Or “I will only eat NZProtein marshmallows while I do my weekly meal prep.” Marrying your dreaded tasks with pleasurable indulgences will make those right column duties so much more appealing. Give it a go for a few weeks and soon enough you will be a productivity master.
Temptation bundling can be a useful tactic for those who struggle to complete simple, non-urgent tasks. It effectively transforms your ‘should do’ activities into ‘want to do’ activities and can be used in a plethora of different scenarios. Start by listing out the things you love and the annoying tasks you need to do, then pair a few of them together. You’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve when you start to enjoy the process.
Written by Lauren Carruthers.