Productivity hacks often have funky little names. You have your Pomodoro technique, the idea of “eating the frog,” and now, temptation bundling. Temptation bundling, per Ness Labs, involves combining an activity that gives you instant gratification with one you don’t like to do. The best example is waiting to watch your favourite show until you hop on the treadmill, but there are a lot of other ways you can use this idea to your advantage.
If you love chatting on the phone with your best friend but hate cleaning, call them when you have to tidy up. If you love reading but hate walking the dog, listen to an audiobook on your strolls. If you love listening to music but hate studying…you know what to do.
Like so many other productivity hacks, this one is backed by science: In 2014, researchers coined the term after looking into the impact of bundling instantly gratifying but guilt-inducing behaviours with valuable behaviours that produced delayed rewards, finding that individuals who bundled their experiences were more likely to go to the gym.
How to ‘temptation bundle’
Grab a piece of paper and make two columns: “Wants” and “Shoulds,” according to Ness Labs. You can structure your temptation bundle in a way that enables you to do one thing from each column at the same time or allows you to complete one “Want” immediately after a “Should.”
There are only two things to keep in mind. First, if you’re doing the activities simultaneously, the instantly gratifying one can’t somehow cancel out the one with the long-term benefit. For example, if you want to listen to music but should study, for instance, don’t listen to a brand-new album that you really want to take in; that will distract you from the studying. Don’t play a phone game on the treadmill, either, since the movement of your hands will distract you from focusing, which makes the workout less effective and less safe.
Second, you have to stick with it. The research study that gave way to this method also found that some people’s participation at the gym dropped off over time, even with the bundling. You have to find bundles that work for you and stick with them. You can’t simply still listen to your favourite podcast on days you don’t do the “Should” activity that goes with it. For maximum benefit, stick with your bundles and don’t cheat yourself.
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