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Stop Procrastinating. Start ‘Temptation Bundling’

Every new year is characterized by new resolutions.

But not all of us can stick to our resolutions no matter how hard we try.

The making and breaking of resolutions now seem a familiar cycle.

You start off with an intense enthusiasm of forming a new habit or bettering yourself, then quickly lose steam, you decided to take a break before deciding to try again, somehow make another half-hearted attempt to stick to the resolution, and then finally give up, all the while feeling guilty about it.

So what are such resolutions or things that we really should be doing, but keep putting off?

What are those time-consuming, dreadful tasks that we procrastinate about, try to put off till the last minute, and somehow do not find the willpower to do them?

So what if we could tempt ourselves into doing those tasks that we really do not like doing by pairing them with something we really enjoy?

How about if we could combine the things we should do with the things we want to do, and find a middle ground for accomplishing both the tasks by using a tactic called “Temptation bundling”.

 

Temptation bundling” is an idea invented by Wharton School professor Katherine Milkman.

She was having trouble sticking to her fitness goals and came up with a plan – she decided that she would binge watch her favorite shows only while working out.

She realized that when she combined the activity that she ‘should do’ with and the activity that she ‘wants to do’, she remained better committed to her fitness goals.

And thus the idea of temptation bundling was born.

She states that temptation bundling involves “coupling instantly gratifying ‘want’ activities with engagement in a ‘should behavior’ that provides long-term benefits but requires the exertion of willpower”.

In simple words, temptation bundling can be considered as pairing the things that you love doing with the things that you hate doing, and this might be a useful way to stop procrastinating.

So basically, you try and bundle a source of instant gratification or your guilty pleasure (like checking Facebook, Instagram, or binge-watching Netflix) with a less fun but “should-do” activity (like folding laundry or doing the dishes).

Researchers believe that this technique helps reduce the guilt of wasting time on indulgent activities and promotes a sense of accomplishment at finishing off the tasks that we keep procrastinating.

 

Temptation bundling can be considered a useful intervention for each one of us who might face similar self-control struggles.

It can help us do something that we do not like by offering an incentive to do something that we have been trying to put off.

Think about how we can use this concept in our life or at the workplace.

Is there some activity that you are avoiding doing, but you know has to be done or will benefit you in the long run? Now once you have a list of such “should” activities, how about making another list of “want to” activities.

These lists might be different for different people, but once you have your own lists, how about combining the two and finding your own combinations of “temptation bundling”?

The trick to successful temptation bundling is not only finding two complementary tasks but also, the tasks have to be of varying effort levels.

Else you might land up accomplishing neither of the tasks. Complementing one task that requires focus with another that does not require that much of a focus would be a better way to get both tasks accomplished.

For example, cooking while listening to music, or getting a pedicure done while catching up on office emails.

But bundling two tasks like driving to get groceries and Facetiming a friend at the same time is a big no-no. 

So next time you are facing a burdensome task, do not procrastinate, but rather find another temptation task and get both accomplished!!

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References:

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20170927-a-unique-way-to-get-work-done

https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/researchers-used-hunger-games-encourage-healthier-choices/

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