Temptation Bundling

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I listen to a lot of podcasts, they provide a great combination of education, entertainment and company when I’m out walking or cycling alone (I reserve listening to audio books for holidays).  Yesterday I listened to a particularly interesting podcast that described the concept of Temptation Bundling:

the idea of tying together two activities — one you should do but may avoid; and one you love to do but isn’t necessarily productive. Or, as Milkman describes it in a research paper (co-authored with Julia Minson and Kevin Volpp), “a method for simultaneously tackling two types of self-control problems by harnessing consumption complementarities

The idea is simple, link two activities together; in the research study that inspired the podcast they linked listening to an audio book to working out at the gym.  In my case as I walked through a Still’s disease flare yesterday, I was combining a difficult, painful, therapeutic activity – walking – with something I loved – podcasts.

In fact I only listen to podcasts when I’m moving, and since moving is critical to my health, I want to do more of it, and I have a long backlog of podcasts to listen to so I’m constantly reminded throughout the day as a new podcast notification pops up on my phone, keep moving Steve!

As I listened I realised that I use this technique constantly:

  1. I reserve watching movies for when I need to do the ironing
  2. I have a folder on my Media Centre called ‘Steve’s TV’ with all my favourite shows, I only allow myself to watch them while riding my exercise bike (unless I’m really poorly, in which case I’m lying on the sofa and I give myself a break)
  3. Every morning I sit in Caffe Nero enjoying the music, vibe and an ice cold coke while working through my daily computing chores and working through my Instapaper reading queue, activities that I somehow never get around to doing if I stay at home
  4. I don’t eat meat – which I love — unless it’s combined with something I don’t like, but’s good for me — vegetables, egg yolks, salmon

Seems to me like this is the most powerful habit forming trick that’s out there, follow the links above if you want to learn more.

It’s a lovely sunny day today, I’ve a long list of podcasts to listen to and I’m still in plenty of pain (mostly in my arms and ankles) so I need to get in a long walk.  I will be heading south along the beach towards Lytham, the picture is from yesterday’s similar walk, from the half way point just before I arrived at Fairhaven Lake.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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