Insight

Productivity

/ 3 months ago /

 Article by Brenda Wong

Cure procrastination forever with temptation bundling

“Hi, I’m [insert name here], and I have a procrastination problem.” If you’ve been feeling even low levels of shame about your procrastination habits, don’t fret. According to author James Clear, human beings have been procrastinating for centuries! (The Greek word for procrastination just so happens to be Akrasia.) So, technically you’re continuing on an age-old tradition – or at least that’s what you can tell yer ma.

What if we told you you could cure procrastination forever? You’d probably be skeptical, and rightly so. There is no such thing as a cure-all – you have to find something that works for you and your personality. However, there are certain tricks that have been proven to be fairly effective in improving your work ethic. Today we’re looking at one of them: temptation bundling.

What is temptation bundling?

Cure procrastination with temptation bundling

If you’re in a rush, here’s our summary. Temptation-bundling helps you do the activities you should do but you avoid (like the gym) with activities you love but aren’t necessarily productive (binge-watching your fave Netflix show.)

Here’s a good example: you’re only allowed to listen to the new The xx album whilst you’re writing that essay you’ve been putting off.

Who came up with temptation bundling?

Katy Milkman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s, came up with the concept after her personal struggles with willpower. She spoke about temptation bundling on popular podcast Freakonomics Radio. Here’s what she said:

“What I realized is that if I only allowed myself to watch my favorite TV shows while exercising at the gym, then I’d stop wasting time at home on useless television, and I’d start craving trips to the gym at the end of a long day because I’d want to find out what happens next in my show.

And not only that, I’d actually enjoy my workout and my show more combined. I wouldn’t feel guilty watching TV, and time would fly while I was at the gym.”

The temptation bundling experiment

Cure procrastination with temptation bundling

Milkman ran an experiment on campus using 226 volunteer participants on campus, all with a goal of wanting to exercise more. She created a ‘lure’ for these participants. They could listen to one of four ‘tempting’ audio books (one of which was The Hunger Games).  However, they could only do so on locked iPods they can access at the gym. The other condition? They had to listen to the books while doing a 30-minute workout.

This was compared to two other volunteer groups. One had the ‘lure’ of The Hunger Games, but without limited access. This group was allowed to download the audio book on their personal iPods, which they could access at any time. The third and final group acted as the control, so were given money to buy the audio book if they so choose.

The groups were monitored for 9 weeks. Milkman found that the group who used temptation bundling were 29 to 51 per cent more likely to exercise in comparison with the control group.

Why is temptation bundling effective? 

Dwight Eisenhower (you know, 34th prez of the United States), once said: “What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” For example, putting money into your savings account is important. However, the benefits of having savings only kick in when you’re much older, so it doesn’t feel immediate. Therefore, you end up putting it off to do something like buy the next Hunger Games book instead.

Temptation bundling hacks this behaviour by combining the important but seemingly non-urgent tasks with the non-important but seemingly urgent ones. Pretty clever.

Tell us more:

We want to hear from you! Tweet us @DebutCareers with your favourite temptation-bundles.

Images via Pexels, Giphy

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