A very different post from what you are used to seeing in this space - but I hope you will find this post useful. I first stumbled on this concept listening to an episode of Freakonomics - When willpower isn't enough. Katy Milkman (who I think coined the term) describes it as this idea that you can make it easier to perform a behavior that is good for you in the long-run by combining it with a behavior that feels good in the short-run. According to Katy, "You are essentially bundling behaviors you are tempted to do with behaviors that you should do, but often neglect"
In the Freakonomics episode which aired in March 2015, she used the analogy of working out and watching her favorite shows. Her study for this concept was also focused on exercise patterns (clearly a lot of us struggle with motivation for gym time). A few other examples of temptation bundling - only get a pedicure while processing overdue work emails (I should try that one) or only watch your favorite shows while doing household chores.
When I heard the episode, I remember thinking it sounded like a great idea and I should try that soon. I did not get around to it until April 2017. After weeks and months of desiring to get back the gym and failing. I decided to give this concept a try. I saved up my favorite K-drama episodes and gave myself a week to put this concept to test. Here is how it went.
Instead of plopping myself on the couch after a long day at work to binge-watch the latest episodes of my favorites K-dramas. I decided that for one week, I will only watch my shows while on the treadmill. The first day, I was a half-hour into an episode before remembering the challenge. I stopped the episode and got myself to the gym to spend half hour on the treadmill whilst watching the second half of the episode. The next day, I only got through the opening credits before it clicked. I did this for a week and what I found was this.
Not only did I have more energy and felt better than I have in yonks, but I was actually enjoying the process of working out. Beyond that, spending a hour on the treadmill while watching an episode freed up an hour in my day to watch more shows or do something more tangible like finally putting up the gallery wall in my living room after almost fifteen months ; starting the decluttering process that I put on the back burner since Feb 2016 and other more significant things.
I thought it might be a fluke so I gave myself another week. This time around, like clockwork - I came home, changed into gym cloths and off to the gym. Once or twice the second week - I even forgot to take my phone with me and I made it through a workout session without my shows. I continued the challenge through the first week of May and by mid May, I found I no longer needed the shows as motivation to go to the gym. I was doing that willingly and freely. It has been about two months since I decided to give this concept a go and it has made such a difference. Now, don't get me wrong, there are some days I could not be bothered to go to the gym and on those days - I rely on the idea of temptation bundling to get myself motivated. The days when I rely on the concept have become very few. In the beginning it was every day and now maybe once a week if that. I work out five to six days a week so I think that relying on temptation bundling one of five days is a great batting average.
I bundled working out with watching my shows. Your temptation bundling might be doing chores and watching TV or working out while reading/listening to a favorite book. There is a write up about temptation bundling here including a guide to creating your temptation bundling. Full disclosure, I did not know about the guide or use it. I found it while looking into the concept more for this blog post. f you want to give this a go and are not sure where to start, the guide might come in handy.