Why You Need to Try Temptation Bundling

temptation bundling

By Yvonne Milosevic

New Year’s 2021 was not a good moment for resolution-making. Heck, that fact that we even survived 2020 seemed like enough of a victory. But, as the world returns to some semblance of normalcy, it’s time to stop procrastinating and start getting sh*t done. Enter temptation bundling.

Coined by behavioral scientist and Wharton professor Katy Milkman, temptation bundling is when you couple something you should do, like exercise, with something you’d rather do, like binge-watch Outer Banks on Netflix.  

temptation bundling

“In my research, I’ve found that ‘temptation bundling’ — linking something you enjoy with pursuing a valuable goal that might be a bit of a drag — can be a powerful way to achieve more without exerting much self-control,” Milkman writes in The Inquirer.

In the past, you may have used a rewards system to motivate you to achieve your goals. Temptation bundling is not that. Instead, you need to do both activities at the same time. This commitment device counteracts our human tendency to undervalue delayed rewards and overvalue short-term pleasures.

“Temptation bundling harnesses the appeal of the here-and-now, making your tough goals fun, not dreaded — and can help you recover wasted time in the bargain,” Milkman explains.

This strategy works for more than just getting you closer to your #fitnessgoals. You can use this trick to solve all sorts of problems, she notes. “For instance, you could let yourself watch your favorite Netflix show only while folding laundry, doing dishes, or tackling other chores, and you’ll watch less TV and finish more housework. Or only let yourself pick up your favorite treat — say, a vanilla latte — when heading to the library to hit the books.”

There is one caveat, though. Bundling two “virtuous” activities is ill-advised. So don’t drag your GMAT study guide to the treadmill because both your knowledge retention and workout will be suboptimal.

Does Temptation Bundling Really Work?

Yes. But… The key to success here is strict self-control. You can’t sneak in an extra episode of your favorite show while flopped on the sofa. Once you start indulging in the fun part of the bundle without doing the chore part, the whole system collapses. If you can stick to it, you stand a decent shot of making those good habits permanent.